This Free App Makes It Possible For Me To Read Way More For Way Less Money

by Kerri Jarema
Lindsay Crandall/Stocksy

It wasn't until I made a list of everything I've read so far this year that I was able to admit it: I've been in a reading rut for a while. At the beginning of 2018 especially, I had been feeling the effects of my limited "reading identity" and it had led to a sad lack of enjoyment in my once favorite pastime. Realizing that I just wasn't enjoying my usual slate of reads as much as I used to gave me the sudden desperate desire to shake things up. For some people, the solution might have been to run out to the bookstore and pick up as many new reads as they could, but for me that just wasn't going to cut it. Buying books is actually a rare treat for me for a few reasons — I like to keep my home library carefully curated so that I can actually read books instead of just collecting them. And so my next step in this mission of reading revitalization? Heading to my local library.

I rediscovered the library in my mid-twenties after many years of exclusively buying books. And it was an exciting time. I had forgotten how well-stocked many libraries were, and how easy it could be to request new books from the librarian. But after a few months of diligently checking out and returning my stack of books to the library, life took over and I didn't have quite as much time to make the trip back and forth — so my reading slump began again. But then, I learned about the Libby app — and downloading it onto my phone has totally changed how I read.

The Libby app is downloadable on both the Apple store and Google Play Store and it puts millions of books literally at your fingertips. All you have to do is get the app, sign into it using your library card and connect it to one or more of your local library branches.

Once you do you'll be able to search through the entire catalogue of your local library, and find whatever books and audiobooks your heart desires. The app has ready-made lists like "new and popular books" and categories that collect everything from fiction to romance to mystery, so you can search through all of your favorite genres with ease.

Once you've found a book you want, you can borrow it with the click of a button, and either send the book directly to your e-reader, stream it directly from the app or download it for offline enjoyment. There is also a streamlined "holds" page that keeps track of all the books and audiobooks you're on the waiting list for — and you'll never forget about them, because Libby will email you when they're ready to be borrowed. The best part, of course, is that it's all totally free to use.

Downloading Libby has made my library experience the easiest and most enjoyable it's ever been. With one tap I can download any book or audiobook (which using Libby has actually inspired me to give a try for the first time) that catches my eye. For someone who has made it their mission to shake off the reading cobwebs, this has been totally invaluable to me, especially with the $0 price tag attached. And for the books that have been on my TBR forever, but I just haven't been able to justify spending upwards of $20 on? I can now borrow each and every one of them — with no guilt if I end up DNF'ing them. If you're a person who justifies wasting precious time finishing bad books just because you've spend money on them? Libby will help you kiss that habit goodbye. As a consequence I've been reading more than I have in months.

And sure, I have plenty of books on my holds list that I won't be getting for another six weeks or so — the waiting game is a frequently cited reason for not using the library. But I think that part of what was missing from my bookish life for a while was that sheer childlike anticipation of a day at the library; of knowing that a book I could love, that could become of my all-time favorites, or even change my life, is waiting for me on the next shelf. With Libby, I've got some of that no-holds-barred bookish love back, and I don't have to worry about fitting it into my busy schedule or my tight budget. All I have to do is sit back and discover it.