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New York Public Library Releases List of 125 Favorite Books to Honor 125th Anniversary


The beloved historic New York Public Library (NYPL) celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, and has undertaken a host of celebratory activities for patrons to enjoy this momentous milestone throughout 2020. The library system, which has ninety-two separate locations and receives approximately 16 million annual visitors from around the world, hopes to host writing workshops, book discussions, community partnerships, film screenings, and many other events in a yearlong celebration of the institution’s achievements (though the dates and times of these events are uncertain at the moment, given the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic).

In true solidarity, Patience and Fortitude (the two stone lions guarding the library’s entryway) were seen reading copies of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby which patrons found nestled between their paws. Alongside this tongue-in-cheek display, the NYPL debuted a list of 125 Adult Books We Love which they say are meant to “inspire a lifelong love of reading.”

A multitude of librarians toiled over which books would make the cut, following an interesting series of guidelines meant to ease the selection process. Works had to be published after May 23, 1895 in honor of the system’s birthday. Additionally, works had to “remind people why reading is fun, exciting, and enlightening” and “survive the test of time” so that non-readers could enjoy them too. This diverse collection of fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, memoirs, and poetry gives readers a launching point to find their next pleasure-read. If you’re wanting to delve deeper into these options before conquering any of them, the hosts of NYPL’s own podcast The Librarian Is In discusses some of their favorite choices from the group once a month.

The list, which was appropriately published on Valentine’s Day, accompanies other upcoming lists like 125 Kids Books We Love and 125 Teen Books We Love. If you’d like to share in NYPL’s celebrations, you can post on social media using their hashtag #LoveReading, or donate $12.50 to support their continued efforts and receive a limited edition Love Reading sticker.

The New York Public Library has announced its 125 favorite books (from the past 125 years) in honor of its 125th anniversary. Among the selected books is the biography that inspired Hamilton: The Musical

Cover of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

“Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

…and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling

Related Links:

New York Public Library Reveals 10 Most Borrowed Books of All Time

A New York Library Card Will Now Let You Go To These 33 Museums for Free

Take a Virtual Tour of Every Inch of the New York Public Library’s Incredible Interior

New York Public Library Staff Reveal Their Meaningful Literary Tattoos

Megan Cooper

Megan Cooper is a Contributing Writer for My Modern Met and a mid-century historian living in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has received a BSA in Public History from Appalachian State University in 2017 and is currently working towards finishing a Masters in Film and Media Studies through Arizona State University. She is extremely passionate about gender and women's studies and the democratization of cultural knowledge.

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