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The New York Public Library announces its favorite 125 books of its lifetime

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

New York Public Library has given its regal lions, Patience and Fortitude, some massive books to read.

For its 125th anniversary and to announce its new list of its 125 favorite titles of the last 125 years, the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building has placed large versions of The Great Gatsby and Beloved on top of the lions' paws—and it's super cute.

The list of 125 books takes into account titles (12 forms and genre) the library has had in its stacks from the very beginning (since May 23, 1895). The librarians' picks were chosen because they "generate excitement around books and a love of reading," are culturally significant and have been popular/frequently checked out.

RECOMMENDED: The New York Public Library unveils its top 10 most checked-out books ever

"For 125 years, The New York Public Library has worked to encourage and foster a lifelong, true love of reading in people of all ages, to help them find the books that get them excited, that help them escape, that keep them turning pages, that help them learn, grow, or have fun," said NYPL's president Anthony W. Marx.

Photograph: Courtesy of Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

American Gods author Neil Gaiman helped announce the list on Friday by saying, "You may not love them, but [the librarians] do. And that's exciting. The thing that gets people reading is love. The thing that makes people pick up books they might not otherwise try, is love. It's personal recommendations, the kind that are truly meant. So here are 125 books that they love. And somewhere on this list you will find books you've never read, but have always meant to, or have never even heard of. There are 125 chances here to change your own life, or to change someone else's, curated by the people from one of the finest libraries in the world. Read with joy. Read with love. Read!"

While the full list can be found at, it includes: Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001), Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997), Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003), Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955) and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938).

The oldest book on the list is Henry James' The Turn of the Screw from 1898, while the newest is An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (2017).

The NYPL is encouraging readers to tag them (@nypl) in a post about what book made you #LoveReading and to attend its branches' programs related to books on the list, which you can find here.

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