The books that New Yorkers have been reading

Illustration: Marta D’Asaro

2016 was a dramatic year in the American political landscape. Donald J. Trump won the presidential election, an event which shocked the world and scrambled people’s sense of reality. And people are still reeling. The assumption was that Trump would implode under the weight of his outsized personality and overt prejudice, yet somehow he prevailed, and is likely to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on January 20th.

Many are wondering if American democracy is in danger. Anyone who claims to have answers is a fraud: the wheel is still in spin, the ball has yet to settle. Even the New York Public Library’s most popular books checked out in 2016 do not give any clues either. The list, released in December, is eclectic, fusing elements of fantasy, escapism, comedy, autobiography and civil rights.

What is most striking about these NYPL’s most borrowed books is that they’re titles you will normally see on subway advertising signs, airport billboards or featured in the New York Times. Whether there is a correlation between a book’s marketing budget and its popularity, it is still clear that New York reading is wide-ranging. At least, 25 million items are circulated through the NYPL network of libraries each year.

NYPL top books checked out systemwide

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  6. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  8. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah