My Friend Libby

Libby has always been a good friend of mine, such a good friend that I enjoy introducing her to other people all of the time, at the library (when we’re open!), to people in my family or to any friend who would benefit from getting to know her. I think it’s the double attraction of how helpful she is and that super cheerful bookmark/ponytail that she has poking out at the the left-hand side of her head. Libby is always there for me and I just love her for the constant support.

libby logoNow, I know that Libby is Overdrive’s app for borrowing and reading eBooks and audiobooks from the library and I try to resist personification. I do. But it is so hard. Look at her, winking from behind the book cover. She and I are 100% kindred spirits. I haven’t formed the same connection with the online tools that I use for listening to podcasts or keeping lists – only Libby and I have become true friends.

Perhaps it is the way that Libby is so linked to the library’s collections? She has become very helpful to me through the years. I have become accustomed to using Libby for audiobooks when I have a migraine and can click through to change the preferences as I search for soothing items that meet my needs with just a few clicks. Downloading a comforting voice can happen in an instant. Right now a relaxing voice can come in handy 24 hours a day and audiobooks are narrated by so many familiar voices that you should consider giving yourself the gift of one of these performances.

Broadway and West End -trained theatre actors are featured in some of the most beautiful stories and you can carry them around with you while you do your chores or just sit in a comfy chair. American favourite Tom Hanks reads his own short stories as well as Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House. And, if you want to read something perfectly frothy I just can’t say enough about Kerry Winfrey’s outstanding romance Waiting for Tom Hanks as her character is waiting for her own Nora Ephron story to begin. Sometimes you can find authors like Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood reading their own work and comedians like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Ali Wong and Jim Gaffigan all chose to narrate their own book so you are guaranteed a good time.

I am also a big fan of the way that Libby keeps track of what I have read and how she sends me friendly updates. It’s obvious that she is just as excited as I am to get started on the next book. What a good friend. Of course, these notifications are entirely optional. Anyone could change this by clicking on the cheerful Libby icon and updating their user preferences although why you would want to hear from your friend less often is entirely beyond me. I like that Libby is letting me know what’s what and when I receive notification that a hold is ready to borrow I also learn the number of other library customers waiting for the same title so I can either cancel my hold or request that it be
“delivered later.”

Sometimes I end up with far too many holds arriving at once and this feature allows me to set the “earliest date that the hold will be delivered” taking into consideration that the customer who is currently reading it has to return it before my hold will be ready. This is pure magic! From Libby, of course, and I love it. It’s also possible to suspend all holds, although I really can’t imagine when I wouldn’t be able to use my eBooks and audiobooks. They are useful at home, in the car while I wait for someone (constantly), in line at the store unexpectedly, while I am washing the dishes (also constantly) so I do like to have Libby with me as much as I can. Should I ever need to suspend all of my holds she has already thought of it. So considerate.

Lately it can be hard to decide what to read. I find that my mind can’t settle on a genre and I look at book covers and am not sure exactly which book is the right book for my volatile mood. I have found that our past Featured Titles picks are a great inspiration – it’s one of my favourite ways to take a trip down memory lane – and it reminded me of an author I loved so I re-read Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare and realized that she has another book coming out in June called The Switch. Hooray for all of us, hold placed for early summer reading. In the meantime you can read her book or listen to it being read by British actor Carrie Hope Fletcher, who was recently cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest musical – Cinderella. Loved reading this unusual book again.

Another absolutely splendid choice right now, from our most recent Featured Titles sheet, is Clare Pooley’s The Authenticity Project. I’ll admit that when I first read the summary of this book and saw that it featured a notebook being passed around among adults it made me think it was an updated Harriet the Spy but this is a notebook that brings happiness to the characters in the novel. Well, mostly?

In a London filled with smartphones and social media influencers an extremely organized, late 30’s woman named Monica runs an independent coffee shop that is moderately successful (but very tidy). Right there we have the bones of a story that I would have read, especially if there was a cat or a murder involved, but Monica finds a green school notebook with the words “Authenticity Project” written on the cover and this leads her to track down the owner, Julian Jessop, an eccentric artist in his 70’s. We learn that he wrote his ‘true story’ in the book with the hope that strangers would do the same and pass it on. As patrons of the shop and others discover the Authenticity Project this novel gives the reader a look into the real lives of people, not the glossy ones they post on social media or politely share at work – some stories are a little darker than you might expect – who overlap with Monica and Julian. I knew, from about page 107 or so, that I would have to read it a second time and I did, just to enjoy that sense of community again. Libby brought that wonderful feeling to me, and I enjoyed it with a hot drink, almost like I was right there sitting at a sunshine-filled window at Monica’s. Well, Libby didn’t make me the cup of tea but she provided the entertainment.

Really, other than her inability to bring me a hot drink, I feel like Libby is a great friend to have right now. If she is someone you have been neglecting lately then I suggest you check in with her and see what she has to offer. There are titles you will enjoy across all genres and now that you have a little more time to read/listen you could explore the backlists or check out a door stopper like The Goldfinch (read by David Pittu – oh, he does the best voices). And, if Libby is a new friend for you then we have instructions for how to use the app on the WPL website. Give it a whirl – we all need good friends right now.

— Penny M.