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These were the NYPL’s most popular books of 2020

Three titles were widely read across NYC.

By
Shaye Weaver
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In what has been a traumatic year, books reflecting historic challenges seemed to be at the top of readers' lists this year, according to the New York Public Library.

On Monday, New York City's libraries (NYPL, The Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library) released their top 10 checkouts for 2020, which included stories and writings that tap into what we've all been dealing with this year—a global pandemic, unprecedented isolation, issues of social justice, and a country divided, the NYPL says. 

The top checkout in Brooklyn was How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi; the top title in The New York Public Library system was The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett; and the most borrowed book in Queens was The Guardians by John Grisham. Titles like Becoming by Michelle Obama, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and Educated by Tara Westover were popular across the boroughs and appeared on all three lists, however.

“This year, with their city in crisis, it’s clear based on the top checkouts that they leaned on books in a variety of ways to get them through our City’s most difficult chapter in recent memory,” said Lynn Lobash, NYPL’s Assistant Director of Read Services. “Some longed for an escape through great literature or inspiring memoirs. Others wanted to become more informed about current events, particularly issues around social justice that sparked global protests and heated discussion. Still, others wanted to read alongside thousands of fellow New Yorkers to feel a connection, a sense of togetherness while we were apart. Books and stories are so powerful, and this year, we hope the most borrowed titles made a positive impact on a City coping with so much.”

These were the top checkouts in 2020 for each system:

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

The New York Public Library:

1. The Vanishing Half by Britt 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

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
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 by Celeste Ng
10. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Over the last nine months, the NYPL saw over 100,000 first-time users of its e-reader SimplyE, where you can check out any of the 300,000 books in its system. Since June, the libraries have decided to extend fine-free borrowing of books through at least June 2021. 

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