This article argues that we must attend to the way books were used if we want to understand popularity in contemporary terms, as appreciated by early modern readers. It argues for an understanding of ‘local popularity’, defined by individuals’ knowledge of a book’s status within an early modern community – who owned it and how they used it – and therefore in many ways separable from measures of ‘national popularity’ calculated by, for instance, print runs. The argument for judging what is popular at a local level is made in relation to household manuals – substantial didactic texts that purport to offer their readers domestic bliss by outlining the mutual responsibilities of those who lived under the same roof, because, as William Perkins put it, ‘Among al the Societies & States, wherof the whole world of mankind from the first calling of Adam in Paradise, vnto this day, hath consisted, the first and most ancient is the Familie’.1