Loving Libby

I like audiobooks. They help me squeeze a lot more reading into my life. A few years ago, I tried checking out audio books from the library, but the workflow was difficult and the UX of the player app was terrible. So I gave up on it.

Times have changed, OverDrive–makers of the originally, crappy audiobook player–now have a new offering, Libby, with a brilliant UX and all the features necessary to make “reading” audiobooks easy. And, as the app automatically checks audiobooks back in on their due date, you never pay a late fee. The app itself is free as well. Go download it. I’ll wait.

Setup is easy. You plug in your library card number and you’re good to go. Checking out books (or, for popular titles, placing holds) is easy as well. At first, I was glancing at my library and looking up books I wished I’d already read. That turned out to be frustrating. The secret to enjoying the app, for me, at least was this: parse through the list of available audio books by genre, tagging them “Maybe” as you go. Then, when you’re ready to choose, parse your list of tagged books and pick the one you like.

This strategy has been good for me, because it gets me to read things I might not otherwise. Case in point, Bryan Cranston’s memoir, A Life in Parts (read by the author). If you asked me what sorts of books I enjoy, celebrity memoirs would not come to mind, but I found it very entertaining and occasionally moving.

If you want to get more specific, below the list of “Popular Collections” (read: genres), you can follow the Explore The Entire Catalog link and filter further. The app supports books as well as audiobooks and can sync with Kindle (as its native reader is a little weak), but I only use it for audio books, so I always filter my list by that category. Libby shows metadata for each title, so you can check the length of each work, make sure its unabridged (of course) and sample it, to make sure the narrator won’t get on your nerves.

In this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge, I pledged to read 24 books. I’ve read nine so far, which is four books ahead of schedule. And I owe quite a few of those to Libby and the the Fayetteville Public Library.

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