The 20 most borrowed books from the Boston Public Library in 2020

A few titles from years past remain as popular as ever for Boston readers.

Empty desks line the Boston Public Library's Reading Room on March 15, 2020. Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe

For the second year in a row, books published in past years reigned supreme at the circulation desk for the Boston Public Library. 

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The library released a list of the 20 most borrowed books during 2020, and for the second consecutive year, not one new book was able to compete with the popular titles of previous years. At the top of the list for 2020 is Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming,” holding onto the No. 1 spot from last year with over 6,000 checkouts. 

Other returning favorites from previous years — with some reshuffling in the exact number of checkouts in 2020 — include “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (more than 3,000 borrows in 2020), “Educated” by Tara Westover (more than 2,800 borrows), and “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty (borrowed 2,400 times). The acclaimed novel by Cambridge author Celeste Ng, “Little Fires Everywhere,” dropped down the list slightly from being the second-most borrowed in 2019 to the fourth-most requested in 2020 with more than 2,500 borrows. 


While most of the titles on the list are returning favorites, nine titles from recent years emerged as new favorites for Bostonians in 2020: “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood, “Normal People” by Sally Rooney, “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, “Daisy Jones & the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Summer of ‘69” by Elin Hilderbrand, “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, and “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout.

Here’s the library’s full list of most borrowed books of 2020:

  1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama (2018)
  2. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (2018)
  3. “Educated” by Tara Westover (2018)
  4. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng (2017)
  5. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty (2018)
  6. “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood (2019)
  7. “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell (2019)
  8. “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert (2019)
  9. “Normal People” by Sally Rooney (2019)
  10. “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn (2018)
  11. “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow (2019)
  12. “Daisy Jones & the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)
  13. “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah (2018)
  14. “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2019)
  15. “Summer of ‘69” by Elin Hilderbrand (2019)
  16. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (2013)
  17. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (2014)
  18. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling (1998)
  19. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides (2019)
  20. “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout (2019)

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