“My team decided that the only way to attempt to defend this monstrous approach [Stalin’s] to state-building was to reject everything our opponent team would hold dear: all concepts of democracy, the value of the individual, the moral responsibility of leadership.” MORE
Meg, a poet and the esteemed founder and curator of Resistance Poetry, a publication on Medium, has posted a profoundly important collection, absolutely worth your time. However, at the very least, please take a moment to read her short but sharply pointed intro to the collection HERE.
To develop the list of most checked out books, the Library evaluated a series of key factors—including historic checkout and circulation data (for all formats, including e-books), overall trends, current events, popularity, length of time in print, and presence in the Library catalog.
The Snowy Day is the hottest book in town. The beloved, innovative, award-winning children’s story, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, is the most checked out book in The New York Public Library’s 125-year history.
For the first time, a team of experts at the Library analyzed a series of factors to compile the ten books that have been borrowed most since The New York Public Library was founded in 1895. This list as well as a limited-edition library card and MetroCard featuring artwork from The Snowy Day—launch a year-long celebration of The New York Public Library’s 125th anniversary.
To develop the list of most checked out books, the Library evaluated a series of key factors—including historic checkout and circulation data (for all formats, including e-books), overall trends, current events, popularity, length of time in print, and presence in the Library catalog. The full list:
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats / 485,583 checkouts
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss / 469,650 checkouts
1984 by George Orwell / 441,770 checkouts
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak / 436,016 checkouts
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee / 422,912 checkouts
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White / 337,948 checkouts
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury / 316,404 checkouts
How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie / 284,524 checkouts
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling / 231,022 checkouts
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle / 189,550 checkouts
The list also includes an honorable mention: children’s book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, which would have been among the system’s top checkouts if not for an odd piece of history: extremely influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore apparently passionately disliked the book. Consequently, while it was published in 1947, the Library didn’t carry it until 1972.
Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910 – November 13, 1952) was an American writer of children’s books, including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, both illustrated by Clement Hurd.
The Snowy Day
The Snowy Day, in print and in the Library’s catalog continuously since 1962, is a charming, beautifully-illustrated tale of a child enjoying the simple magic that snow brings to his city. It is one of the Library’s top circulated books every year (across all neighborhoods). Andrew Medlar, director of the Library’s BookOps selection team and one of the experts who helped compile the list, attributes the book’s success to its universal appeal, its fame (being a Caldecott winner and one of the earliest examples of diversity in children’s books), its wide availability in other languages, and its many years in print.
“At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the story, and it is absolutely brilliantly told,” Medlar said. “It is such a relatable story, and pure magic for kids and adults alike. It’s on people’s radar screens, they remember when they first heard it, and they want to share that experience with their kids. And the artwork is just gorgeous.”
Brooklyn-born Ezra Jack Keats (1916 – 1983) was an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He won the 1963 Caldecott Medal for illustrating The Snowy Day, which he also wrote. Keats wrote A Letter to Amy and Hi, Cat! but he was most famous for The Snowy Day. It is considered one of the most important American books of the 20th century. Keats is best known for introducing multiculturalism into mainstream American children’s literature. He was one of the first children’s book authors to use an urban setting for his stories and he developed the use of collage as a medium for illustration.
There are several key criteria that appear to influence whether a book is a top checkout:
Length: The shorter the book, the more turnover, or circulation (this is why children’s books are often amongst the most circulated). The adult books on the list tend to be shorter, such as 1984 and To Kill A Mockingbird
Length of time in print: Clearly, the longer a story is in print, the longer the public has to check it out. The oldest book on the list is Dale Carnegie’s ultimate self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which has been in print continuously since 1936. The newest book is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which came out in the United States in 1998 and was only able to crack this list because it was an absolute phenomenon.
Languages available: In a city like New York City, the more languages offered means more checkouts.
Universal appeal: The more a story appeals to a wide variety of tastes, the more checkouts it will receive.
Current events: Particularly with adult books, what is happening in the world greatly impacts checkouts. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 see spikes in circulation depending on what’s happening in the world, and have currently seen increased popularity due to the rise of dystopian fiction, particularly in teen books.
School: If a book has been on school lists for many decades, it is more likely to be a top checkout.
Awards and acknowledgment: Awards generate awareness and excitement, which also generate checkouts. Several of the books on the list are Caldecott winners, for example.
This post is compiled courtesy of The New York Public Library, Wikipedia, my bookshelf, and YouTube.
About The New York Public Library For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.
More information on the Library’s 125th Anniversary celebrations is available at nypl.org/125.
“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” Stella Young, was an Australian comedian, journalist and disability rights activist. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and used a wheelchair for most of her life. When she was fourteen she audited the accessibility of the main street businesses of her hometown.
Throughout the month of February 2020 The BeZine blog is featuring a range of material on illness and disability in concert with Kella Hanna-Wayne’s YOPP!, a social justice blog dedicated to civil rights education, elevating voices of marginalized people and reducing oppression. Our intention in doing this is to give voice to those with illness and disabilities, to raise awareness of the issues and outcomes, and to offer workable alternatives for those who have to manage in environments that are not conducive to inclusion.
We’ve already had some question with regard to terminology: disabled v. differently abled. We respect each contributor’s chosen terminology, which will be reflected in their posts.
Kella and I are disabled and we both prefer that term over differently-abled. Here are my reasons:
There are things I – like many others – am absolutely unable to do. Period. End of story.
“Differently abled” is inherently meaningless in this context. All human beings are differently abled. Some are better at music, for example, and others are better at accounting.
Almost everyone has a degree of disability, especially as aging progresses. If you wear glasses, you are disabled and, depending on your occupation or interests, you might be unable to function without glasses.
A reference to anyone as a “differently-abled” individual, is a cruel euphemism. In my own case, for example, it diminishes the reality of my 24/7 life, which involves being on high-flow oxygen, being unable to lift anything heavy, being restricted to home, often being restricted to bed, dealing with chronic bleeding due to a rare blood cancer, and living with extreme fatigue.
“Differently abled” implies a norm that does not exist. There is no one way to feel, to communicate, to educate oneself, or to ponder and create art. The implication is that anything that deviates from the fantasy norm is less than ideal, possibly even somehow wrong.
“Disabled” is not a disparagement. It’s truth. It’s accurate. Implicit is an acknowledgement that there are productivity and quality-of-life challenges that have everything to do with social, political, and cultural assumptions and structures and nothing to do with any one person’s atypical body or mind.
Finally, “differently-abled” is a stigmata that ignores the kinds of accommodations (including some life-changing technologies) that could be made available to help those many with atypical bodies and minds to lead fuller, richer lives and to contribute their energy and talent to help others and their communities.
This is the short story, the down and dirty of it. Input is welcome from readers and we hope that you will enjoy and benefit from contributors’ posts throughout the month. We are still open for submissions to the February blog-post series on illness and disability and for submissions to the March 15 issue of the Zine, themed “Waging Peace.” Submissions should be emailed to email@example.com.
In the spirit of love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines, Jamie Dedes
The BeZine, Managing Editor
“The fact that we [Flatiron Publishing] were surprised is indicative of a problem, which is that in positioning this novel, we failed to acknowledge our own limits. The discussion around this book has exposed deep inadequacies in how we at Flatiron Books address issues of representation, both in the books we publish and in the teams that work on them. We are committed to finding new ways to address these issues and the specific publishing choices underlying this publication, and feel an obligation to our colleagues, readers, and authors alike. On a more specific scale we made serious mistakes in the way we rolled out this book. We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the migrant experience; we should not have said that Jeanine’s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland; we should not have had a centerpiece at our bookseller dinner last May that replicated the book jacket so tastelessly. We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them.” Statement from Bob Miller (MORE), President & Publisher, Flatiron Books
I have not read American Dirt and given the constraints on my time right now, it’s not on my to-read list. I have, however, been following the controversy around the book’s publication. It is certainly inflamed – including the counterproductive threat of violence to author and booksellers – but if the discussion fosters awareness, diversity and equity in publishing, that would be very good indeed. I think the criticisms are legitimate but I’m not sure we can lay them entirely at the feet of the author, although clearly she was complicit in the publisher’s deceptions. Having said that, like Jeanine Cummins, all any of us can do is to write what we feel compelled to write. As readers we vote with our dollars and our library borrows.
Following news that Flatiron Publishers cancelled the remainder of the American Dirt book tour, PEN America issued the following reasoned statement:
“We have been closely following the debate concerning American Dirt, which implicates concerns at the heart of PEN America’s mission. Our organization has long been committed to the vital work of amplifying lesser-heard voices, and we are staunch advocates of increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in publishing. In our public programming, we strive to present the broadest array of writers from across the country and around the world. We have dedicated programs focused on fostering writing among individuals who are incarcerated, undocumented immigrant youth, and others who might be locked out of the literary community due to resources, background, or other factors. And we have engaged deeply over the last two years in combating online harassment, and recognize its particular silencing impact on women writers and writers of color.
“As writers, we believe in the necessity of reasoned discourse across differences. The breadth of passionate perspectives unleashed by this controversy has sparked an overdue public conversation. We urge that this dialogue unfold in the realm of ideas and opinions, and avoid descending into either ad hominem attacks or caricature. As defenders of freedom of expression, we categorically reject rigid rules about who has the right to tell which stories. We see no contradiction between that position and the need for the publishing industry to urgently address its own chronic shortcomings. If the fury over this book can catalyze concrete change in how books are sourced, edited, and promoted, it will have achieved something important. It is past time to equip, resource, and elevate a wider group of voices to speak for themselves and about their experiences. As a nearly 100-year-old organization, we have our own historic legacies, blind spots, and challenges to reckon with. We look at this debate through the lens of how we can continue to evolve to better fulfill our mission.
“Finally, we reject all threats of violence, as well as vitriol aimed to shut down discussion and enforce silence. In our digital discourse, harsh invective too easily gives way to threats and intimidation that have a chilling effect not only on their targets, but on entire topics or points of view. We believe such approaches impair, rather than advance, what is an urgent and essential debate.”
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.