Books We Borrowed

What do a lollipop-loving caterpillar, a Goldfinch, a wimpy kid, and Michelle Obama have in common?

All four of these protagonists sit atop the Vancouver Public Library’s latest ‘Most Borrowed’ lists.

It is Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar who wins the crown, with more than 10,000 checkouts over the past 16 years. Not surprising, perhaps, given that the New York-born Carle’s book has sold more than 46 million copies and been translated into 65 languages. ‘On Wednesday he ate through three plums, but he was still hungry.’



Why does Author and Illustrator Eric Carle feature so many small creatures in his books?

‘When I was a small boy,’ he explains, ‘my father would take me on walks across meadows and through woods. He would lift a stone or peel back the bark of a tree and show me the living things that scurried about. He’d tell me about the life cycles of this or that small creature and then he would carefully put the little creature back into its home. I think in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things. And in a way I recapture those happy times.’


Top 10 Most Borrowed Print Books from the VPL over the last 16 years

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling

7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

9. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney


Top 10 Most Borrowed E-Books and Audio Books from the VPL over the last 7 years

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

5. Crazy Rich Asians (Book 1) by Kevin Kwan

6. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

7. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

9. The Martian by Andy Weir

10. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty




Eric Carle’s Caterpillar also squeaks into the top ten of the New York Public Library’s recently released list of Top Checkouts of All Time – that’s over a period of 125 years!

New York Public Library’s Top 10 Checkouts of All Time

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – 485,583 checkouts
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss – 469,650 checkouts
  3. 1984 by George Orwell – 441,770 checkouts
  4. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – 436,016 checkouts
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 422,912 checkouts
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – 337,948 checkouts
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 316,404 checkouts
  8. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – 284,524 checkouts
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – 231,022 checkouts
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – 189,550 checkouts


As for the most borrowed books in Vancouver last year?

VPL’s Most Borrowed Adult Fiction Books of 2019

1. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

2. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

3. French Exit by Patrick deWitt

4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

5. Normal People by Sally Rooney

6. Transcription by Kate Atkinson

7. Women Talking by Miriam Toews

8. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

9. Milkman by Anna Burns

10. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris



VPL’s Most Borrowed Adult Non-Fiction Books of 2019

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

2. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval N. Harari

4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval N. Harari

5. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

6. Guinness World Book Of Records

7. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

8. Vogue Knitting International

9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

10. Calypso by David Sedaris


VPL’s Most Borrowed Children’s Books of 2019

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney

6. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid. Rowley Jefferson’s Journal by Jeff Kinney

7. Tales from a Not-so-happy Birthday by Rachel Renée Russell

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

9. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling


Photos by Henry Be




Chantel Neumeyer


The Golden Tree

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton