HKDSE - Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

Borrowing habits reveal Hongkongers’ top obsessions: travel, exams and martial arts

Library loan statistics show most highly circulated publications include DSE past papers, books on Japan and novels by Jin Yong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 10:23am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 10:23am

Check-out records at public libraries have revealed Hong Kong holidaymakers’ passion for Japan, with nine out of the top 10 highly circulated adult non-fiction Chinese books last year being travel books, including seven on the East Asian island country.

But first place in the same category went to a series of past papers in the Chinese language subject for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam, with 12,933 loans last year according to statistics from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which operates some 80 public static and mobile libraries in the city.

The past paper series for the English language subject drew even more loans – 14,342 in total – topping the charts in the adult English non-fiction category. The series was also the most popular loan item overall.

Taking second place in adult English non-fiction were past papers for the Hong Kong Advanced Supplementary Level Examination for Use of English subject.

Travel books were also popular among English readers, with Lonely Planet Japan and Lonely Planet Scandinavia making the list.

Not surprisingly, eight out of the top 10 popular items on the adult Chinese fiction chart were classic martial art novels by Louis Cha Leung-yung, better known by his pen name Jin Yong.

The top three items in adult English fiction were The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Time Keeper and For One More Day, all by US author Mitch Albom.

Dr Ng Shun-wing, adjunct professor at the Education University’s Department of Education Policy and Leadership, said it was somewhat surprising to see the English language subject past papers topping the charts.

The reason could be that the subject was a core one and it was not always easy to find past papers from earlier years at bookstores while the libraries usually had better collections, he said.

“I myself go to the library to borrow travel books too, as you can find more types and editions … sometimes you don’t want to buy one when you just need it once for a trip,” Ng added.