Arts and Culture

These are New York Library's top 10 most borrowed books

New york public library books book reading pages children story stories novel novella read america city capital

One title has been borrowed almost half a million times. Image: Unsplash/iamSe7en

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
Share:
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Arts and Culture is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Arts and Culture

  • The New York Public Library has revealed its most-borrowed books.
  • More than half are for children.
  • One title has been borrowed almost half a million times.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar might be the greatest 'bookworm' of all - he or she chewed actual holes in the book - part of the story's enduring appeal to generations of very young readers.

Eric Carle's book makes it into the newly published top-10 of the New York Public Library's most borrowed titles of all time, more than half which are aimed at young readers.

At number 1 is The Snowy Day. Published in 1962, it’s considered one of the first US children’s books to tell a story in a multicultural setting.

Have you read?

"At first celebrated for its bold depiction of an African American boy, then widely criticized for not being culturally specific, [The Snowy Day is now] finally regarded as a classic,” writes children's literary review The Horn Book.

The Snowy Day
New York's number 1 read. Image: Puffin Picture Books

The New York Public Library Top 10

1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (borrowed 485,583 times)

2. The Cat in the Hat, by Dr Seuss (469,650)

3. 1984, by George Orwell (441,770)

4. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (436,016)

5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (422,912)

6. Charlotte’s Web, by EB White (337,948)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (316,404)

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (284,524)

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling (231,022)

10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (189,550)

According to a Gallup survey, more Americans visited a library than went to the movies last year. US adults reported making on average 10.5 trips to a library in 2019 – far more than to the movies: 5.3 visits.

The same poll found women visit libraries almost twice as often as men, making an average of 13.4 visits, compared with 7.5 made by men.

Discover

What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?

In New York, the public library system does more than just lend books. It also operates a scheme for anyone who needs to borrow something smart to wear to a formal occasion, like a wedding or a job interview. It even offers tips on how to succeed in job interviews.

Across the world, book borrowing through libraries is still immensely popular, with Tokyo leading the way – more than 100 million books are loaned out in the city every year.

books literature libraries cities
The cities where libraries are thriving. Image: Statista

Among the books aimed at an older readership, the New York Public Library’s top 10 includes: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; and 1984, by George Orwell – seventh, fifth, and third in the rankings, respectively. They are all cautionary tales of authoritarian control, prejudice and tyranny.

Each of these titles has been around for six decades or more and, if the New York list is anything to go by, they’ll continue to resonate with readers for many years to come.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

See how Gaudí's Casa Batlló takes our heritage into the digital age

Joseph Fowler and Amilcar Vargas

April 18, 2024

4:31

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum