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Grammar guide is most borrowed library book in Westminster

10:00 15 January 2012

Librarian Susie Derby with the top three most borrowed books at St John

Librarian Susie Derby with the top three most borrowed books at St John's Wood Library

Richard Twilton

His books have sold millions of copies and been turned into Hollywood films – but Stieg Larsson could not beat a little-known grammar reference text into top spot as Westminster’s most borrowed book.

Figures charting the top 100 books borrowed from the borough’s libraries show The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo topped the fiction chart last year, while the third book in Larsson’s trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, took third place.

Standing the test of time, a number of classic authors have enjoyed profitable years with six of the seven Harry Potter books inside the top 100 for JK Rowling, while children’s author Jacqueline Wilson had a whopping 17 novels in the chart.

Roald Dahl’s eternally popular novels appear eight times in the top 100 list.

But while the great and the good of the literary world celebrate their success, it is the lesser-known Martin Hewings who takes the ultimate crown as the author who sits atop Westminster libraries’ lending pile.

An honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham, Mr Hewings has seen his English study and reference book, Advanced Grammar In Use, checked out and renewed 783 times over the past year.

With chapters ranging from “tenses” and “semi-modals” to “pronouns” and “adverbial clauses”, Advanced Grammar In Use may seem complex to many readers.

But the book is, in fact, part of a series to help people learning English as a foreign language.

“I’m surprised and delighted that Advanced Grammar In Use is proving so popular in the borough and it’s great to be heading a list that includes so many well-known writers,” said Mr Hewings.

“Studying grammar will never be as entertaining as reading books by Stieg Larsson and JK Rowling. But it’s a good feeling to think that I’ve written something that might help learners of English understand them better.”

In fact, Westminster’s borrowing list is peppered with titles aimed at non-Brits.

Life In The United Kingdom: A Journey To Citizenship is the second most borrowed book in Westminster, while two other books aimed at those taking the “Life In The UK Test” to qualify for citizenship are also high up on the list.

Director of libraries David Ruse said: “The popularity of English grammar books and the citizenship guide illustrates the diverse and transient nature of Westminster’s population and also the significant role that our libraries play in supporting their integration into the UK – both in terms of language and also culturally.”

The figures paint a promising picture for the borough’s libraries.

There was an overall increase in the number of visits last year to 2.7 million and a 10 per cent rise in the number of children’s books borrowed.

Book title and number of times borrowed:

1 – Advanced Grammar In Use by Martin Hewings, 783

2 – Life In The United Kingdom: A Journey To Citizenship, 780

3 – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, 746

4 – Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, 742

5 – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, 729

6 – Cambridge IELTS 7 Examination Papers, 728

7 – English Grammar In Use: A Self-study Reference A by Raymond Murphy, 713

8 – English Grammar In Use: A Self-study Reference B by Brigit Viney, 694

8 – Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson, 694

10 – Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, 682

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