How Using Libby Changed My Reading Habits

One of the best things about having been a lifelong reader is seeing the new tools that develop and make books more accessible to a wider range of people. I’ve found myself reading more e-books than physical books lately for quite a few reasons, not the least of which is a result of library closures during the pandemic.

While we have so many wonderful e-reading options like Kindle, Nook, Scribd, Google Books, iBooks, and I’m sure the list goes on, none has been so invaluable to me as Libby.

For those who are familiar with Libby, much of this will come as no surprise, but for those who don’t know Libby very well or at all, here’s a Readers Digest version of how this works:

Libby is an app powered by your local library on which you can borrow e-books and audiobooks from their online collections for up to three weeks each. Just like a physical library, if the book you want is unavailable, you can place a hold. Also just like a library, these holds can sometimes last months! On the surface this seems a little annoying, but let’s just remember that long holds mean lots of people reading, which is a very good thing!

The way hold checkouts worked until recently, when your held title became available, it automatically checked out. That was a little stressful at times, because when other patrons are in line for the same title and your reservation is expiring, you are not able to renew the title, so you had to hope and pray that your hold became available at a time when you were just wrapping up something else and you could really sit down and read that one in the allotted time!

Now, fortunately, when your held title is ready, you get a notification alerting you that action is required! You have a few days to check the book out, or you can choose to defer this book to a later time and you re-enter the queue at the top of the list.

So how does this affect reading habits? One word: autonomy.

Those who’ve read my blog from its (humble) beginning know that reading autonomy used to be a very important consideration for me. I even went so far as declining a few book club invites simply because I wanted to be able to read exactly what I wanted to read! Life’s too short and there are too many books in the world to read anything other than that, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still value having free rein over what I pick for myself — though I have been swayed at times by the online book community’s preference toward genres I don’t really gravitate toward, sometimes being pleasantly surprised and sometimes not so much. But while book Twitter and bookstagram and Goodreads and all of these other media to track and share reading habits, nothing so delightfully spices up reading patterns like the ever-intense Place a Hold Roulette you’ll find on Libby.

Nothing so delightfully spices up reading patterns like the ever-intense Place a Hold Roulette you’ll find on Libby.

I’ve never been one to carefully curate a monthly TBR, rather I just grab exactly what I’m in the mood for at a given time. Libby’s hold release system has, in a way, challenged me to accept whatever comes to me whenever it does, and I’ve really enjoyed just ‘going with the flow’ a bit more. If you’re one who believes in signs from the universe or a higher power or anything like that, then perhaps you’ll agree that sometimes a book (or a song, or a person, or an event, etc.) can come into your life at a specific time on purpose, and allowing myself to just float along with that can cultivate experiences and connections that I may not have been able to fabricate had I insisted on fully controlling my reading choices.

Pardon my quasi-philosophical musing, there, but in fairness, isn’t that why we read? Aren’t we drawn to reading because of the worlds and emotions and experiences we can vicariously share through the pages of countless stories?

How do you choose what to read and when to read it? What shapes your decisions when you plan a list or pick up a new title? Tell me about your reading habits in the comments!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Xx.

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