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You Should Download Libby – Right Now (Plus 5 Audiobook Recs)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

Libby is probably one of the best apps out there, and if you love, or even just like, listening to audiobooks and/or ebooks, this is THE app for you. 

Libby is a free app that partners with public libraries (and some academic libraries, too) and provides thousands of audiobook and ebook titles for listening and reading. Did I mention it’s free? Some of the things I love about Libby is that there are no ads, no checkout or hold limits, no costs and no in-app purchases like with so many other apps. And as college students, we’re always looking for ways to save money. 

Audiobooks are a great way to practice self-care, and it’s something you can do without looking at a screen for hours, too. Audiobooks can be listened to while commuting, working out at the gym, hanging out at the park or beach, on flights, and my favorite, while doing chores or baking food. 

Libby is available to download on iOS, Android, and Fire Tablets, and you can use Libby on your computer browser, too. 

Here are some things I love about the app, besides all the books:

Just like with a public library, you can check out, renew, and place holds on titles. Even better, there aren’t any late fees like some libraries still do, and you don’t have to worry about losing a book or accidentally putting it in the return bin at…one of ASU’s libraries (oops). You can also choose to renew a title (unless it has a hold on it), and if a title is checked out, you can place a hold and Libby will tell you your place in the queue and how long the wait is.

Don’t see a title you want to read/listen to? You can easily request titles through Libby, and you’ll even get notified when they’re available! 

Cute interface and SO easy to use. Libby’s interface is cute and it’s so easy to navigate in the app, whether you’re using it on your phone or computer. Plus, it has cute icons at the bottom of the screen for your “shelf” (checkouts and holds), and you can easily narrow the results of your searches, such as by subject, author, audiobooks or ebooks only, and so on. 

Make your own TBR list! You can also create your own tags however you want. Personally, I have a TBR list of titles I add that I want to read later, and Libby conveniently pre-made tags for items I’ve sampled, titles I’ve checked out so I can see my borrow history, and a Notify Me tag for titles I’ve requested. There’s no limit to how many tags you can make, and you could even do it by subject (like romance, fantasy, magazines, etc). 

You can opt into push notifications. Okay, pretty much all apps do this. Personally, I leave mine off because I already get enough notifications on my phone and I like the treat of opening the app to see a hold come in or a requested title available. 

Love that particular narrator’s voice? You can also go into an audiobook’s details section and click on the narrator’s name to find other titles they have done. I have a few fav narrators, like Gisela Chípe, Amy Landan, Beth Easdown, and Farrah Cave. 

There are other things you can find with a few taps too: Also in a title’s details section, Libby conveniently has the title’s summary, author, narrator(s), and genres like fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+ and so on–and you can click on any of these to find more titles by that author, or books within those genres. 

You can also see what kind of formats a title is available in. If you’re searching for Britney’s The Woman in Me, Libby will display all available versions, so you can choose to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook. 

Libby has a sleep timer. This is a great feature that you can customize the time, anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours! 

The reader percentage, bookmark, and speed features are the best. When you have an audiobook open, Libby displays the hours completed and hours left as well as a percentage of how far into the book you are. Plus, you can rewind or fast forward 15 seconds at a time, or drag the time bar to go anywhere in the book. You can also do different swipes to speed up or slow down the narration, pause, and maybe best of all, you can bookmark where you are–and you can even bookmark multiple pages, and Libby leaves a date and time stamp on bookmarks so you can easily see when they’re from as well as percentage. No more guessing where you left off! 

Okay, but how can I access all this, and isn’t there a catch? The only catch–and how you’ll be granted access to the wonders of Libby–is to head over to your local public library, get a card (which is always free) and connect your library card to your Libby account. Bonus! You can add multiple library cards to one Libby account, so if you have a library card at a few public libraries, you can easily switch between those accounts in the app and access even more titles! Unfortunately, ASU Libraries do not currently use Libby, but stay tuned for an upcoming article on ways to use libraries and the benefits of #librarylife.

My top Libby audiobook recs. These have been some of my favorite listens so far, with excellent narrators too:

One Last Stop, by Casey McQuiston (2021) 

Tags: LGBTQ+, time travel, romance, comedy 

From the author who brought us Red, White, and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a witty romcom about cynical 23-year-old August, whose life revolves around solving the case of her missing uncle, and who doesn’t believe in much until she meets Jane, an edgy and gorgeous woman seemingly displaced in time from the 1970s. As August navigates her feelings for Jane amid her chaotic life in New York City, she begins to question her beliefs and embark on a journey to save the girl lost in time, while also getting some answers of her own and finding true love. 

The London Séance Society, Sarah Penner (2023)

Tags: LGBTQ+, historical fantasy, spiritualism, murder mystery 

A historical fantasy fiction LGBTQ+ crossover (yass), it’s the 1870s and renowned spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire conducts dark séances, sought after worldwide for her ability to summon murder victims’ spirits to bring closure to their families. Lenna, a complete skeptic but seeking answers about her sister’s murder, joins Vaudeline to study under her and follows her to London to investigate a high-profile murder of the leader of The London Séance Society. As they collaborate with the Society, they discover unsettling secrets that make them question their own involvement in the mystery, while navigating complex passions for each other. 

The Society for Soulless Girls, Laura Steven (2023)

Tags: LGBTQ+, dark academia, magic, murder mystery, gothic

A perfect dark academia fantasy murder mystery, this one is definitely on my top 10 books list, and perfect for fans of gothic literature. Ten years ago, four students at the prestigious Carvell Academy of the Arts lost their lives in mysterious tragedies tied to the North Tower, leading the school to close. Steeped in a long and secretive history, Carvell has reopened and fearless freshman Lottie is determined to uncover the truth of the student’s death. Then, her gorgeous but brooding roommate Alice discovers a sinister soul-splitting ritual in a book in the school’s library, and the North Tower claims another student, while both Lottie and Alice undergo transformations of their own. They begin to suspect each other, and then the other girls around them–even the staff– figuring out if the killer is amongst them, or within them. 

Silver Nitrate, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2023)

Tags: Horror, Mexican literature, magic and occult 

From bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of Mexican Gothic and many other fantastic horror and fantasy novels. Montserrat has always been overlooked in the male-dominated film industry in 1990s Mexico City. She feels almost invisible to her charming but tragic best friend Tristán, whom she’s loved since forever. Tristán discovers that his neighbor is the legendary cult horror film director Abel Urueta, who claims he can change Tristán and Montserrat’s lives–and Montserrat is a huge horror fan. But, things turn strange when Urueta tells them stories of Nazi occultists putting magic into silver nitrate film stocks–a film that was never finished. Urueta claims he is cursed because of working on it and wants their help lifting the curse by filming the final scene. But all is not as it turns out: Montserrat and Tristán notice dark shadows and strange things following them, and they soon find themselves battling real occult magic and old sorcerers for their lives–and the safety of the world. 

A Spindle Splintered, Alix E. Harrow (2021)

Tags: LGBTQ+, fantasy, magic, interdimensional travel, fairy tales 

This is one in a series of much-needed, feminist retellings of classic fairy tales by bestseller Alix E. Harrow. A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, the title starts with Zinnia Gray’s 21st birthday, supposedly her last birthday ever. Zinnia was born with a rare genetic condition brought on by industrial malpractice, with no known cure. Zinnia has always been a huge fairy tale fan, especially of Sleeping Beauty, and her best friend Charm tries to make Zinnia’s last-ever birthday special by throwing a Sleeping Beauty party in a tower, complete with a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, she ends up falling through other dimensions and lands in a fairy tale castle, with a real princess just as desperate to escape her fate, and a whole lot of questions to solve.

Jade is a nonbinary and queer writer, artist, and academic. Residing in sunny California, they are finishing up their double major in Anthropology and English and greatly enjoy reading and researching a variety of literature, critical theory, and evolutionary and medical anthropology topics. A first generation student and community college graduate, their educational goals are to next pursue a doctoral degree, and continue their career in higher education teaching, research, and advocacy. They have worked in higher education for five years a variety of roles, especially academic writing support and LGBTQIA2S+ advocacy. Jade has been published multiple times in academic research journals including the Johns Hopkins Macksey Journal, as well as creative writing journals, and have presented at over a dozen research conferences. In their free time, they enjoy reading fiction (especially fantasy fiction, South Asian and Arab poetry, YA literature, graphic novels, and have just started getting into magical realism). They also enjoy writing poetry, especially as a way to connect to their South Asian diaspora; and poring over research papers for fun. Jade likes to spend time at their local library, both as a patron and as staff. They also enjoy baking desserts, watching or listening to true crime, spending time with friends, and making art. They have two cats and their favourite time of year is Fall and Halloween (yay for spooky szn!)