These are the books New Yorkers borrowed the most from the library in 2020

Posted On Mon, December 21, 2020 By

Posted On Mon, December 21, 2020 By In City Living

Photo credit: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

During an unusually tough year full of challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, an election, and racial justice issues, New Yorkers relied on books to not only stay informed but to find comfort. The city’s three public library systems on Monday released their top checkouts of 2020 lists. At the New York Public Library, which includes branches in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the most borrowed book of the year was Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half. In Brooklyn, the top checkout was How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and in Queens, The Guardians by John Grisham.

While the systems each had a different top checkout, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and Educated by Tara Westover appeared on every list. These three popular books also made last year’s list of top checkouts. Notably, because the physical branches of the libraries were closed from March to July to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the titles were mostly borrowed digitally.

“While the top titles are as diverse as the communities we serve, I am inspired to see that, in a year when basic facts were sometimes questioned, so many turned to libraries, trusted sources of knowledge, to enhance their understanding of current events and the social justice issues that continue to plague our nation,” Anthony W. Marx, president of the NYPL, said in a press release.

“That is so important. NYPL will continue to offer New Yorkers whatever we can to cope with our current circumstances and will work to be a key part of the City’s recovery. Together, we will turn the page.”

The New York Public Library (Bronx, Manhattan, & Staten Island):

1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
3. The Glass Hotel: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
5. The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
6. The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
7. Educated by Tara Westover
8. Becoming by Michelle Obama
9. Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney
10. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

NYPL top checkouts by genre: 

Children: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Teens: American Royals by Katharine McGee
Classics: 1984 by George Orwell
Comics and Graphic Novels: The Handmaid’s Tale (Graphic novel) by Margaret Atwood
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Horror: If It Bleeds by Stephen King
Mystery and Detective: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Romance: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Spanish Language: Tierra Americana (American Dirt) by Jeanine Cummins

Brooklyn Public Library:

1. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
3. Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama
5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
6. Educated by Tara Westover
7. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
8. The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
9. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
10. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Queens Public Library:

1. The Guardians by John Grisham
2. Moral Compass by Danielle Steel
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama
4. Lost by James Patterson and James O. Born
5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
6. A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci
7. Educated by Tara Westover
8. Criss Cross by James Patterson
9. Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel by Celeste Ng
10. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

For those with a New Year’s Resolution to read more, New Yorkers can sign up for a library card virtually at each system’s website. All libraries will also extend their suspension of late fines for books through at least June 2021.

In July, as part of their reopening, the libraries launched grab-and-go service for contactless pickups and returns. Find more information regarding locations, hours, and COVID-19 regulations for BPL here, NYPL here, and QPL here.


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