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Summer Reading List 2019

It’s officially summer and you’re looking for your next read. But you don’t want to read what everyone else is reading. No, you want something more obscure. You’ll take the books that no one is reading. Better yet, how about the books no one has touched in years?

We (programmatically) sifted through over 100 million checkout records from the Seattle Public Library to find fiction books that haven’t been checked out in over a decade*. Sounds like they’re just your speed.

Heads up: We haven’t read all of these books. Some may not have aged well.

There are 000 books in this stack

Libraries are treasure troves of stories and resources that are both widely used and collecting dust. Just by showing up, getting a library card, and checking out books (or movies, or TV shows, or internet hotspots), you are supporting your local library.

If you still haven’t found your perfect summer read here, you may want to check out the more “mainstream” reading suggestions from Mental Floss, The Boston Globe, Elle, The Washington Post, NPR, The New York Times, and Goodreads. Or head to your local library and ask for suggestions. Happy reading!

Data and Method

All books discussed in this article are fiction books that have appeared in the Seattle Public Library’s physical book inventory for the entire span of time between September 2017 and May 2019 (the earliest and latest dates available for these data) and are still available, but have not been checked out any time between September 2005 and May 2019.

Since we don’t have inventory data from 2005 - 2017, there is a chance that some of these books may have entered the library’s collection during that time span. We excluded any books that were published after 2005 to minimize this likelihood. At the absolute minimum, all the books on our list have been in the inventory and have gone unchecked out since September 2017.

Both checkout and inventory data are publicly available thanks to the Seattle Public Library. You can view our processed data and the R scripts used to process the data here. All rating data available comes from Goodreads.

Many thanks to David Christensen from the SPL who answered a ton of our more detailed data quandaries and thanks to Isabel Carter and Swati Murugappan for help with manual data collection of book details.

Be advised that reading a book from this list will guarantee that you are more interesting at your next adult party where everyone else is just talking about the last podcast they listened to.