I subscribe to the New York Public Library blog posts. Their blogs are a wealth of knowledge for bibliophiles like me. The other day the post that caught my eye was this one on which books have the most checkouts. I thought that the list might provide me with something new to read.
I was surprised to learn that most of the titles were children’s books. Of those that were not children’s books, there were three that I had read in high school, and I suspect that you did too. For the last half century at least, in English-speaking North America, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 have been in almost every high school English curriculum. In fact, this library article tells readers that, if a book has been high on school reading lists for a long time, it has likely been popular at the library also. The most recent book on the list was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. There was magic in this book in more ways than one, it seems.
The one book that stands out for not being a story is perhaps the most popular nonfiction book ever: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is self-help at its finest and is worth reading. Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People has helped thousands of people – it would also demonstrate what keeps a self-help book current for a long time.
I love that most of the books on this list are children’s books – children’s books that I know well and love. I like to think that they circulate widely, that so many children have read them. I like to think that so many people have read about winter in Ezra Keats’ A Snowy Day or think about a Maurice Sendak monster when they remember Where the Wild Things Are. Didn’t you cry when Charlotte died? Didn’t you long for the day when The Cat in the Hat would visit your house with a box containing Thing One and Thing Two? Don’t you still?
So many of us know these stories.
It makes me feel hopeful about the future.