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

NYPL Most Borrowed Books of All Time

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Libraries are one of the best parts of any community. They are a haven for book lovers of all ages and have been for many, many years. The New York Public Library (NYPL), in fact, is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020. To honor this monumental birthday, the library system calculated its 10 most borrowed books of all time.

The NYPL is huge. It has one of the largest collections of books in the U.S. that's second only to the Library of Congress. And given the diversity of New York—particularly New York City—it’s safe to say that any book on its list has near-universal appeal.

So, what texts saw the most checkouts? Six of the 10 books on this list are children’s literature, which makes sense given that libraries are an amazing resource for parents with young kids. The number one spot is held by Caldecott-winner Ezra Jack Keat’s The Snowy Day which was released in the middle of the 20th century; it has a staggering 485,583 checkouts. “In print and in the Library’s catalog continuously since 1962, this charming, beautifully illustrated tale of a child enjoying the simple magic that snow brings to his city is one of the Library’s top circulated books every year,” NYPL writes, “across all neighborhoods we serve.”

Scroll down for the complete list of the 10 most borrowed books from the NYPL.

In honor of the New York Public Library's 125 anniversary, the institution calculated the 10 most borrowed books of all time:


1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keat

Top Checkouts at the NYPL

The Snowy Day tops the list with 485,583 checkouts.


2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat

The Dr. Seuss classic has 469,650 checkouts and counting.


3. 1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

1984 comes in third with 441,770 checkouts.


4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are

The beloved children's story (which was made into a motion picture) has 436,016 checkouts.


5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's literary sensation took fifth on the list with 422,912 checkouts.


6. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web

The classic story of Wilbur and Charlotte has 337,948 checkouts and counting.


7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451

A regular on high school reading lists, Fahrenheit 451 is seventh on the list with 316,404 checkouts.


8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People came out in 1936 and is still in constant circulation boasting 284,524 checkouts.


9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The youngest book on the list, J.K. Rowling's contemporary classic made the top ten with 231,022 checkouts.


10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

A favorite of librarians, this beautifully illustrated book by Eric Carle has 189,550 checkouts.


New York Public Library: Website | Instagram | Facebook 
h/t: [Open Culture]

All images via Amazon.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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