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A Deeper Look at the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards

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Johann Thorsson

Staff Writer

Johann Thorsson is a native of Iceland, but spends much of his time in Bookland. He has lived in a few parts of the world but currently lives in Iceland with a pretty woman and a mischievous son who resembles Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) more each day. He has a complicated but ultimately useless degree in bioinformatics from a very pretty college in England. His favorite books are 1984, Flowers for Algernon and The English Patient. He hopes one day to call himself a writer without feeling like he's just fooling himself. Blog: Johann Thorsson - On Book and Writing Twitter: @johannthors

When we take a look at the recent Goodreads Choice Awards, we can see a few really interesting things.


The first and most obvious thing is just how amazingly popular The Girl on the Train was last year. I mean, it’s just ridiculous. Paula Hawkins’ thriller got just a little less that double the votes of the second most popular book not just in its category, but any book in the poll, in any of the categories.

Here is the breakdown of votes for the top books in each of the seven categories examined (there are 20 categories total in the Goodreads Choice Awards, I chose to look at the most general).

Goodreads Choice Awards Category Winners

Infographic (12)

The difference between The Girl on the Train and Saint Odd, the most popular book in the horror category, is just amazing (and may say something about the current state of horror fiction.)

For further proof that The Girl on the Train is just an amazing outlier in the Goodreads Choice Awards it is worth mentioning that last year, the book with the highest number of votes was Deborah Harkness’ Book of Life with just over 51,000 votes. That’s less than half of what The Girl on the Train got.

2014’s Goodreads Choice Awards had more votes total, making the popularity of 2015’s winner even more outstanding.

Goodreads Choice Awards Category Popularity

Infographic (14)

The most popular genre, judging by the numbers of votes cast for books in those genres, is Mystery & Thriller, with a total of 266,100 votes cast for the 20 most popular books. Next is Romance, followed by Fantasy and Fiction.

Only one author was on the awards list with more than one book; David Baldacci.

Oh. The Girl on the Train got more votes than all the top 20 books in the Horror category combined.

Must be some book.