These are the 10 library books New Yorkers checked out most during the shutdown

July 28, 2020

Photo credit: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

New York Public Library patrons kept busy during the citywide shutdown by reading lots of books. According to the library, since the temporary closure of all of its branches in Manhattan, the Bronx, and on Staten Island on March 16, there were over two million checkouts of e-books. Plus, 65,000 new users signed up for the SimplyE, the library’s free e-reader app. Now with some of the city’s public libraries reopened, the NYPL released on Monday a list of the most checked out e-books during the lockdown, with Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism taking the top spot.

Three books on the list, The Glass Hotel, My Dark Vanessa, and The Nickel Boys, were featured as part of the library’s book club with WNYC. The latter book and How to be an Antiracist were also featured on the NYPL’s Black Liberation Reading List.

The e-books New Yorkers checked out the most during the shutdown include: 

  1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  2. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  3. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  4. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  5. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  6. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  7. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  8. How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  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

The city’s public libraries reopened 22 branches for limited grab-and-go service earlier this month as part of a phased process. Patrons are able to access lobbies for contactless pickups of holds and book returns. Patrons and staff members at all opened libraries must wear face coverings and maintain distance from others. All branches have been thoroughly cleaned prior to reopening.

Since reopening two weeks ago, New Yorkers have requested about 25,000 items. The most requested books include: 

  1. Too Much and Never Enough: How my family created the world’s most dangerous man by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D
  2. The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett
  3. The Order: A Novel by Daniel Silva
  4. Blindside by James Patterson and James O. Born
  5. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  8. Normal People: A Novel by Sally Rooney
  9. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  10. Such a Fun Age: A Novel by Kiley Reid.

NYPL announced the reopening of 22 additional branches on August 3, with the Brooklyn and Queens Public Library systems planning additional locations starting August 10. NYPL hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The following NYPL branches will reopen on August 3, adding to the already opened locations:

The Bronx

  • Allerton
  • Baychester
  • Bronx Library Center
  • Castle Hill
  • City Island
  • High Bridge
  • Kingsbridge
  • Pelham Bay
  • Sedgwick
  • West Farms
  • Woodstock


  • 53rd Street
  • 67th Street
  • Countee Cullen
  • Harry Belafonte-115th Street
  • Hudson Park
  • Riverside
  • Seward Park
  • Tompkins Square
  • Washington Heights

Staten Island

  • New Dorp
  • Stapleton


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