January 24, 2022

New York City’s Three Public Library Systems Unveil The Most Borrowed Books of 2021

From a Joint Media Release:

Of the millions of print and digital books that New Yorkers borrowed from the city’s libraries in 2021, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, A Promised Land by Barack Obama, and The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah are among the most popular.

Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library have unveiled the most popular books of the year, sharing the top 10 checkouts of 2021 in each system for adults, teens, and children.

The top checkout for both Brooklyn Public Library–which marked its one billionth loan this year–and The New York Public Library systems was the powerful novel The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which focuses on two twin sisters and issues of racial identity and bigotry in the segregated south. The most borrowed book in Queens Public Library system was The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, a piece of historical fiction set during the Great Depression. Popular selections that appear on all three lists also include A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson and The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley.

Several of the most popular books—including The Vanishing Half—were featured as part of the WNYC “Get Lit!” virtual bookclub, a partnership with The New York Public Library started at the height of the pandemic that has led to thousands of checkouts.

The top titles include all formats: e-books, audio books, and physical books. While print circulation was impacted by the pandemic—near full service was only restored to the branches in July of 2021 following temporary closures and limited service—the systems saw increases late in the year, especially following the October announcement of the elimination of late fines. The New York Public Library system, for example, saw a 10 percent increase in circulation in the weeks following that announcement.

“It’s interesting that so many of the top titles were featured as part of book clubs—the WNYC book club and  others—showing that New Yorkers are certainly craving a sense of togetherness through reading following a period of unprecedented isolation,” said Lynn Lobash, NYPL’s Assistant Director of Readers Services. “Other popular books received praise and accolades over the past year and readers want to join the conversation. But, at their very core, the top checkouts were a universal joy to read, demonstrating that while New York’s bibliophiles are a diverse group, they share a deep love and appreciation of reading.”

“As we close yet another unprecedented and difficult year, NYC Libraries share a deep pride that as always, readers turn to us for unparalleled access to books, knowledge, and entertainment to feed their souls and brighten their spirits,” said Amy Mikel, BPL’s Director of Customer Experience. “These top titles show that our communities crave the kinds of stories that uplift and connect us. NYC Libraries will always be here for our readers.”

The full lists of 2021 top checkouts can be found at nypl.org/topcheckouts2021, https://bklynlib.org/topcheckouts21; or queenslibrary.org.

Adult Titles

Brooklyn Public Library

  1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  3. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  4. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  5. Caste: the Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hing
  7. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  8. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  10. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

The New York Public Library (which includes the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island) Systemwide:

  1. The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
  2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  3. Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  5. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  9. The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  10. Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Bronx:

  1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  2. The Vanishing Half  by Brit Bennett
  3. 21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  4. A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
  5. Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. The Russian by James Patterson and James O. Born
  7. The Affair: A Novel by Danielle Steel
  8. The Red Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
  9. Win by Harlan Coben
  10. Neighbors: A Novel by Danielle Steel

Manhattan:

  1. The Vanishing Half  by Brit Bennett
  2. Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  3. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  4. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  7. Such A Fun Age: A Novel by Kiley Reid
  8. Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman translated by Neil Smith
  9. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  10. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Staten Island:

  1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  2. 21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. Neighbors: A Novel by Danielle Steel
  4. Legacy by Nora Roberts
  5. A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
  6. Deadly Cross by James Patterson
  7. Eternal by Lisa Scottoline
  8. The Red Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
  9. The Russian by James Patterson and James O. Born
  10. The Affair: A Novel by Danielle Steel

Queens Public Library 

  1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  3. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  5. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  6. The Silent Patient by by Alex Michaelides
  7. Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  9. Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman translated by Neil Smith
  10. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

“This year’s top checkouts document what NYPL patrons were reading as they began turning the page on a difficult, historic chapter, ” said Anthony W. Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “These are the books that they chose when they returned to their local libraries, to read on their first trip in months, to keep them company as they got back to commuting. 2021 was a significant year, and the books that New Yorkers chose to read to accompany them on their journey through that year are equally significant.”“

The people of Queens were so hard hit by the pandemic and Hurricane Ida, and much like the protagonists and figures  featured in many of the books on our list, they persevered,” said Dennis M. Walcott, president and CEO of Queens Public Library. “These books provided hope, humor, and joy at a time of tremendous uncertainty and challenge, and show how much people love great writing, and love a great story.”

“Brooklyn’s most-read books of 2021 reflect a city seeking to better understand its past and write a different future,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “From Brit Bennet and Isabel Wilkerson to Cathy Park Hong and Kiley Reid, readers across the borough are still reckoning with racism’s long legacy. Along with Matt Haig, Barack Obama, and V. E. Schwab, they’re also reflecting on how we want to be remembered. Thankfully, literature continues to ask complex questions and evade simple answers.”

The top checkouts for books for children and young adults are below.

Top 10 Lists for Children

Brooklyn Public Library Top 10 Checkouts for Children

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  3. Guts: Smile Series, Book 3 by Reina Telgemeier
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  5. Fetch-22: Dog Man Series, Book 8 by Dav Pilkey
  6. Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14) by Jeff Kinney
  7. The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5) by Jeff Kinney
  8. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
  9. The Getaway (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 12) by Jeff Kinney
  10. Hard Luck (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #8) by Jeff Kinney

NYPL Top 10 Checkouts for Children

  1. Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14) by Jeff Kinney
  2. Guts: Smile Series, Book 3 by Reina Telgemeier
  3. For Whom the Ball Rolls: Dog Man Series, Book 7 by Dav Pilkey
  4. The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 15) by Jeff Kinney
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  7. Fetch-22: Dog Man Series, Book 8 by Dav Pilkey
  8. Sisters: Smile Series, Book 2 by Reina Telgemeier
  9. The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series, Book 5) by Jeff Kinney
  10. Brawl of the Wild: Dog Man Series, Book 6 by Dav Pilkey

Queens Public Library Top 10 Checkouts for Children

  1. Grime and Punishment, Dog Man Series, Book 9 by Dav Pilkey
  2. Fetch-22: Dog Man Series, Book 8 by Dav Pilkey
  3. Mothering Heights, Dog Man Series, Book 10 by Dav Pilkey
  4. For Whom the Ball Rolls, Dog Man Series, Book 7 by Dav Pilkey
  5. Guts: Smile Series, Book 3 by Raina Telgemeier
  6. The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 15) by Jeff Kinney
  7. Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey
  8. Lord of the Fleas, Dog Man Series, Book 5 by Dav Pilkey
  9. Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14) by Jeff Kinney
  10. Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey

Top 10 Lists For Young Adults

Brooklyn Public Library Top 10 Checkouts for Young Adults

  1. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus
  2. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, Book 1 by Sarah J Maas
  4. Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo
  5. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The Hunger Games Series, Book 0 by Suzanne Collins
  6. Midnight Sun: Twilight Series, Book 5 by Stephanie Meyer
  7. We Were Liars by E Lockhart
  8. Bleach by Tite Kubo
  9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

NYPL Top 10 Checkouts for Young Adults

  1. Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Midnight Sun: Twilight Series, Book 5 by Stephanie Meyer
  3. We Were Liars by E Lockhart
  4. One of Us Is Lying: One of Us Is Lying Series, Book 1 by Karen M. McManus
  5. Siege and Storm: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 2 by Leigh Bardugo
  6. Crooked Kingdom: Dregs Series, Book 2 by Leigh Bardugo
  7. The Cruel Prince: Folk of the Air Series, Book 1 by Holly Black
  8. Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards
  9. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The Hunger Games Series, Book 0 by by Suzanne Collins
  10. One of Us Is Next: The Sequel to One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Queens Public Library Top 10 Checkouts for Young Adults

  1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The Hunger Games Series, Book 0 by by Suzanne Collins
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. The Cruel Prince: Folk of the Air Series, Book 1 by Holly Black
  4. Shadow and Bone: The Grisha Trilogy, Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo
  5. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  7. Midnight Sun: Twilight Series, Book 5 by Stephanie Meyer
  8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  9. A Court of Thorns and Roses: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, Book 1 by Sarah J Maas
  10. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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