Happy 125th birthday, New York public library

To celebrate the 125th birthday of New York public library they released their 10 most checked out books of all time and it makes for a very interesting read not just because of the books on the list but the reasons that they think these books were picked. 

The number one most checked out book is The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats with 485,583 checkouts. The book was published in 1962 and the library received their copy the same year. The fact that the book comes in multiple languages and that it has universal appeal is a huge part in why it’s so popular, but above all else it’s because it’s a beautifully written and illustrated story. A worthy winner! 

After that the list goes as such 

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 485,583 checkouts
  1. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss: 469,650 checkouts
  1. 1984 by George Orwell: 441,770 checkouts
  1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: 436,016 checkouts
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: 422,912 checkouts
  1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: 337,948 checkout
  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: 316,404 checkouts
  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: 284,524 checkouts
  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone  by J.K. Rowling: 231,022 checkouts
  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: 189,550 checkouts

Now there’s a few things worth mentioning about this list. The number one thing is the fact that 6 out of the 10 books are children’s books. The official post on the NYC public library mentions this too. ‘Length: The shorter the book, the more turnover or circulation. This is why children’s books are often among the most circulated.’ This may also be why books such as To Kill A Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451 are featured on the books. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the most modern book from all 10, having only been in print in the US since 1998. The fact it’s managed to reach 231,022 checkouts is proof for how well loved these books are. The library also sees a spike in checkouts when a new movie comes out or an edition of the books. They think this book will raise on the list in the comings years and the other books in the series will make an appearance. 

Another thing to consider is the number of languages that the book is published in and is available in the library. With a multicultural city like New York this is really important. 

On top of this people’s taste in books comes into play. If a book appeals to a large audience then it’ll of course be more popular. 

Current events can affect the list too. The top checked out book of 2019 was Becoming by Michelle Obama, this may be because it’s an amazing book that everyone should read but it may also be because it reflects on the American climate at that point. 

Finally it can be something as simple as it being on a school reading list. To Kill a Mockingbird is an obvious example of this, something that a school/college would ask you to read and so it would be checked out by students year after year. 

An honorable mention for this lift is Goodnight Moon By Margaret Wise Brown. This book was published in 1947 but wasn’t introduced into the library till 1972. This was because the children’s librarian at the time, Anne Carroll Moore, hated this book and so refused to have it stocked. With how the book is doing in the library there’s a huge chance it would have been number 1 on this list. It’ll be good to see how it goes in the future. 

Find your local independent bookshop here

Or on Abebooks here

Or even in your local library that can be found here

Check out my last blog post here where I talk about The Secret Teacher and maybe consider subscribing to my newsletter on the right.




Image from https://125.nypl.org/125/topcheckouts

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