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The 2023 Rakuten Kobo Book Report: Digital Reading in the year of Barbenheimer, Canadians Read More than 9000 Hours

November 21, 2023

Celebrity memoirs, epic fantasies, and page-to-screen adaptations: 2023 saw Canadians escaping into worlds far beyond their own

TORONTO November 21, 2023 – Rakuten Kobo proudly shares the 2023 Kobo Book Report, exploring the most notable trends and reading habits of Canadian readers this year.

Canadians hit digital reading hard in 2023 and increased their 2022 reading by 13 per cent, reading the equivalent of over 9000 years. So, what kept Canadians turning pages? This year, Kobo readers were drawn to page-to-screen adaptations including American Prometheus and A Man Called Ove. Additionally, Canadian interest in the Biography and Memoir genre spiked by 20 per cent, with blockbusters like Spare, as well as Matthew Perry’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing among the top best-sellers for the year.

This year, the most popular reading day in Canada was January 8, 2023, while the most popular reading months were July and August. The most-read days of the week were Sunday and Monday. Overall, Canadians spent the most time reading in the late evening, with users across the country opting to enjoy their books between 10:00 and 11:00 PM. When it comes to page-turning productivity, results varied:

  • Toronto and Vancouver read the most pages in the late afternoon
  • Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Regina are most productive after dinner
  • Edmonton and Ottawa turn the most pages before bed

“In troubled times, when people are feeling uncertain, they turn enthusiastically to reading. We’ve seen groundbreaking new releases and outstanding page-to-screen adaptations take the world by storm,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo. “We are delighted to note that our Canadian readers are reading more and more often - everything from memoirs, romance, self-help to fantasy.”

Barbenheimer lights up movie screens and reading trends:

The dual release of The Barbie Movie and Oppenheimer created one of the most notable media moments of 2023. The juxtaposition of the films’ comically opposite themes created a social media frenzy that caught everyone’s attention, and thus Barbenheimer was born. Sales of books featuring J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb increased by almost 500 per cent in 2023. Additionally, in very Barbie-coded fashion, 71 per cent of Kobo bestsellers were written by female authors or featured strong female leads.

Celebrity memoirs dominate Canada’s top audiobooks:

This year, the inspiring anecdotes and juicy revelations of celebrity memoirs had Canadians digging out their headphones and listening intently. Prince Harry’s Spare, Britney Spears’s The Woman in Me, and Matthew Perry’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing emerged as the three most popular audiobooks of 2023. Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights and Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry were also among the most popular audiobooks of the year.

Canadians are feeling the Fantasy:

Between new releases, viral TikTok sensations, and beloved classics, Canadian Kobo users read more Fantasy this year than last, opting to transport themselves into new worlds full of fantastical adventures. Whether turning pages or listening intently, the Fantasy tales Canadians read most included:

Page-to-screen adaptations continue to attract new readers:

Older books continue to see a second surge in popularity thanks to page-to-screen adaptations capturing new readers. The standout success of the year is the biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Marin J. Sherwin, which inspired the box office hit Oppenheimer. Following the release of the much-anticipated flick, sales of the biography grew over 2,800 per cent year-over-year. American Prometheus isn’t the only phenomenon – here are some other adapted books that saw a mass of new readers this year:

Canada’s bestselling books of 2023:

Canadian reading interests were vast and varied this year. While genres may vary, one thing was certain, Canadians were craving more female voices. Much like 2022, TikTok sensations Colleen Hoover and Taylor Jenkins Reid continue to enrapt Kobo readers, while powerhouse debuts from Bonnie Garmus and Rebecca Yarros shot to the top of everyone’s reading list. In a very Barbieland end to 2023, 16 of the 20 top selling titles were written by women. Here are the top eBooks and audiobooks in Canada this year:

Canada’s top 10 bestselling eBooks of 2023:

  1. Spare, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
  2. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus
  3. It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
  4. Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros
  5. It Starts With Us, Colleen Hoover
  6. Happy Place, Emily Henry
  7. Verity, Colleen Hoover
  8. Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver
  9. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  10. Meet Me at the Lake, Carley Fortune

Canada’s top 10 bestselling audiobooks of 2023:

  1. Spare, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
  2. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Matthew Perry
  3. The Woman in Me, Britney Spears
  4. Atomic Habits, James Clear
  5. Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros
  6. 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think, Brianna Wiest
  7. Identity, Nora Roberts
  8. The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien (narrated by Andy Serkis)
  9. Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
  10. Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus

Canadian Kobo booklovers certainly had an impressive reading year. What’s in store for 2024? You can find all of the best-selling and most-read titles, plus much more, at


About Rakuten Kobo Inc.

Rakuten Kobo Inc. is the world’s digital bookseller created by and for book lovers. Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group, Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo’s millions of worldwide users can read anytime, anywhere, and on any device. With a mission to make reading lives better for all, Rakuten Kobo connects readers to stories using thoughtful and personalized curation of eBooks and audiobooks, and the best dedicated eReaders and apps for reading. With the singular focus of making reading lives the best they can be, Kobo’s open platform allows people to fit reading into more moments in their busy lives.  

  To learn more about Rakuten Kobo, visit 

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