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Libby 9.0 makes tagging titles even better

Libby’s 9.0 release came with so many exciting new changes, including a UI revamp to the footer, and giving users the ability to switch between libraries easily during a search. The most notable change that came with this release was to Libby’s tagging feature.

Any patron that has met me out on the Digital Bookmobile or has attended a Libby Webinar knows that I tend to harp on tags. Tags are, by far, one of my favorite features; and if you haven’t used tags in the past, now is a really great time to start. Here is everything you need to know:

What are tags and why should you use them?

Tags allow you to organize and catalog books in Libby. You can tag titles from all of your libraries to create lists. From your tagged lists, you can borrow or place holds, making it quick and easy to find your next great read, or you can export your tags for printing, messaging, and more.

What’s new with tags?

With the Libby 9.0 release, tags will automatically sync across devices, allowing you to add titles to your tagged lists regardless of which device you are using. Additionally, OverDrive app and website users can sync their OverDrive wish list into a single tag in Libby.

We have also introduced smart tags. Smart tags are especially exciting for borrowers that have magazines in their digital collection, as the Notify Me smart tag will alert you when new issues of your favorite magazines are available. All users will have borrowed and sampled smart tags, which will automatically tag titles you borrow with a receipt and tag titles you sample with a slice of cake.

I don’t know about you, but I could really get used to Libby doing half of the work for me!

How do you get the most out of tags?

How tags are used will entirely depend on the reader. For some, Libby’s new smart tags combined with wish list might be all you need. For others, there is truly no end to the rabbit hole you could fall into with tags. I often tell everyone that attends our Libby webinars – the only limit to the tags you create is your imagination.

Here are a few ideas for tags you can create:

Break up your To Be Read tag into more specific tags This can be as simple as separating your To Be Read from your To Be Listened. You could also subcategorize by season (Winter – cozy mysteries and holiday fiction, Summer – beach reads and travel memoirs), by trope (Friends to Lovers, Secret Royal/Billionaire, Forced Proximity), or by subject (Historical Fiction, Thriller, Non-Fiction). Many readers choose titles based on their mood, so having multiple wish lists can make choosing your next read a breeze.

Keep track of gift listsIf you have a lot of readers in your life, you likely gift books often. Why not make it easier on yourself and use tags in Libby to keep a running list for each giftee? I cannot explain to you how many times I’ve patted myself on the back around the holidays because gift giving was as easy as choosing a few titles from a list of books I had tagged for each of my loved ones throughout the year.

Curate booklist content Long gone are the days you see a book, think of a brilliant blog or video idea for it, snap a picture of it with your phone, and then forget why you took a picture of it in the first place. Instead, you can tag that title to create a list and add a description, making it impossible to forget.

Avoid writers or narrators you don’t enjoy Is there an author whose books always sound amazing, but their writing style is too fluffy for you? Does a certain narrator think their fake southern accent sounds better than it actually does? Tag them so you don’t accidentally borrow one of their books ever again!

If I come across a narrator I don’t enjoy, I’ll sample a few other titles to make sure it’s not a fluke. If I feel the same way in the samples, I will go through that narrator’s entire catalog and tag each title with a thumbs down. By doing this, any time that narrator comes up in a search, I can just skip right over it (or borrow the ebook version).

Note who recommended certain titles to you It brings me an awful lot of joy when someone reads a book that I recommend to them, so I always make a point to let my friends and family know when I read one of their recommendations. Unfortunately, my brain uses its limited storage to remember what I ate on my 5th grade fieldtrip to my teacher’s farm, and not to recall who recommend I read Dear Child by Romy Hausmann just two weeks ago. If you have similar issues, creating individual recommendation lists might be a great option for you.

Do you have additional questions about tags?

You can DM us on Instagram (@digitalbookmobile), visit our Help Site, or Contact Support.

50 signs that you are a book nerd

  1. You never leave the house without your library card.
  2. You have read a book in one sitting, likely finishing it in the wee hours of the morning.
  3. You have ignored a loved one for a book.
  4. You have a designated reading chair, nook, corner, or nest.
  5. You organize your books a very specific way and notice when one is out of place.
  6. You have cancelled plans with a friend so you could stay home and read.
  7. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, you didn’t complain because that meant you would get to spend more. time reading.
  8. You have considered a fictional character a friend.
  9. You are on a first-name basis with your local librarians.
  10. You had a stance on Jacob vs. Edward, even if you pretend you didn’t.
  11. You take offense to the idea that graphic novels or audiobooks “aren’t reading”.
  12. You have actively sought out household chores just so you could spend more time listening to an audiobook.
  13. You have named a pet after a literary reference.
  14. You have at least one book on your shelf that looks like it has been through a war.
  15. You will turn literally anything into a bookmark.
  16. You have stressed over your reading goals more than your career goals.
  17. When you work out, you listen to audiobooks instead of music.
  18. You have annotated a book for fun.
  19. You have an Instagram account dedicated to your love of books.
  20. You keep in better contact with fellow bookstagrammers than your IRL friends.
  21. You have at least one piece of art that is a subtle reference to a book.
  22. You have at least one piece of art that is a not-so-subtle reference to a book.
  23. You have received bookplate(s) or a library stamp as a gift.
  24. You have diligently kept track of every book you have ever read.
  25. You have “wasted” an entire afternoon adding books to your TBR list.
  26. You would consider losing your TBR list a complete and total tragedy.
  27. You know what Harry Potter house the sorting hat would assign you at Hogwarts.
  28. You have walked into a bookstore to window shop, only to walk out with an arm full of books you probably couldn’t afford.
  29. Nearly a quarter of the books on your shelf are unread, but you keep buying more.
  30. When asked who your favorite celebrities are, you start listing authors.
  31. At least once in your life you have said, “The book was better” after watching a screen adaptation.
  32. You have considered paying a fee to access an out-of-state library’s digital collection of ebooks and audiobooks.
  33. You have planned your TBR list around the seasons.
  34. When planning vacations, you consider what books you will want to read.
  35. You have planned vacations based off a book that you have read.
  36. You own more than one edition of your favorite book.
  37. You have considered getting a literary tattoo at least once.
  38. You actually have a literary tattoo.
  39. You could navigate your local library with your eyes closed.
  40. You know what the genre new adult fiction is.
  41. You perk up when there is a literature-based category on Jeopardy.
  42. You cast the screen adaptation of a book in your head while you read it just in case it gets picked up by a production company.
  43. You are an avid listener of the Professional Book Nerds podcast.
  44. You will explore a new genre if a book is narrated by your favorite voice actor.
  45. You dream of chartering your very own Little Free Library.
  46. You have lingered in your parked car just to finish listening to an audiobook.
  47. You have a curated playlist of music to listen to while you read.
  48. Your family and friends know not to believe you when you say you are only going to read “one more chapter”.
  49. A book has helped you overcome a challenge in your life.
  50. You have met Libby.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with these great reads

I often get weird looks when I tell people that some of my favorite books are non-fiction. I know that some people find non-fiction boring, but I love diving deep into the sea with marine biologists and exploring the stock market with economists. I wasn’t always a fan of non-fiction. In fact, there was a time that you couldn’t get me to read anything other than YA romance (seventeen-year-old me kept a list of all of Sarah Dessen’s love interests rated by most datable. Talk about embarrassing!).

One of the ways I dipped my toes into the genre was by starting with a book that had a collection of shorter stories. When the information is bite-sized, it’s much easier to swallow (pun intended) because you can pick it up and put it back down whenever you’d like without feeling overwhelmed or bored. So, for Women’s History Month, I put together a list of titles that feature real people, and their stories, in easy to digest chunks (and no more puns, I promise) that will be sure to inspire readers of all ages.

Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World by Kazoo Magazine
Considering I bought a physical copy of this book for my niece after borrowing it through my local library, I had to include it on my list of Women’s History Month recommendations. Noisemakers details the stories of 25 incredible women throughout history, including Janko Tabei (the first woman to climb Mount Everest) and Josephine Baker (entertainer by day, Nazi-fighting spy by night).

What makes this book so special is that it encourages young readers to become noisemakers themselves. At the beginning of each story, the reader is asked to count all the things they have in common with each Noisemaker, proving that everyone has what it takes to raise their voice and change the world. Each story is also accompanied by a series of comics created by female artists. The comics make this a great book for any young reader, whether they read it themselves or read it with the help of someone else.

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped our History…and our Future! by Kate Schatz
Rad American Women A-Z has a nice mix of stories about well-known icons like punk-rocker Patti Smith (famous for her song “Because the Night”) and lesser-known ladies like activist Dolores Huerta (who cofounded the United Farm Workers Association).

I was pleasantly surprised to find an artist by the name of Maya Lin included as one of the visionaries featured. Maya Lin grew up in the very same small town in Southeastern Ohio that I did, and her parents both taught at the university where I eventually went on to study. In the early 1980s, Maya Lin designed the Washington D.C. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. By the time I went to university in the 2010s, she had an art installation on my campus that I walked by on my way to class daily. It really put into perspective how attainable being a rad woman truly is.

Rad American Women A-Z is recommended for readers in grades 3 and up.

Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs
Okay, I have to be honest here, this book had my eyes watering like you wouldn’t believe. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t seen my own squad in over a year, or maybe it’s because the Pisces in me is brought to tears by nearly everything (there isn’t a Subaru commercial in existence that hasn’t made me cry), but something about Girl Squads pulled my heartstrings just right.

Girl Squads takes women’s history up a notch by showcasing how a female duo, and in some cases, entire groups of women, can impact the world. Two of my favorite stories featured Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens (tennis prodigies that showed the world that even rivals have the ability to support each other) and The Edinburgh Seven (the first female medical students in Great Britain, whom later went on to open the London School of Medicine for Women).

This pick is a great read for anyone, but I think it’s a particularly good choice for older teens and young adults that feel like they can do just about anything as long as their BFF is by their side.

Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History by Blair Imani
Of all the titles I am recommending for Women’s History Month, Modern HERstory features the most women that are still making an impact today. Their names, and all that they have accomplished, have not been told time and time again throughout history. Rather, most of their stories have continued to unfold in the present. Some of my favorite women featured were Linda Sarsour (Palestinian American Muslim activist and co-chair of the Women’s March) and Aditi Juneja (YouTuber and social justice advocate).

Readers should note that Modern HERstory does contain some mature content and touches on sensitive subjects like violence against the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. However, its beautiful illustrations and true stories of perseverance will inspire any budding civil rights activist.

Bygone Bad*ss Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee
I first borrowed Bygone Bad*ass Broads because the cover was absolutely beautiful. Little did I know how much Mackenzi Lee’s casual writing style and sense of humor would draw me in.

What I loved most about Bygone Bad*ass Broads was that many, if not all, of the stories were entirely new to me. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Dorothy Arzner (a stenographer that started her career typing scripts, and later went on to become the first woman to join the Directors Guild of America) and Agnodice (a third century CE midwife that disguised herself as a man to practice medicine). Who else is imagining Amanda Bynes playing the lead in a quirky Agnodice biopic?

If there is any book that will convince you that reading non-fiction can be fun too, it’s this one! I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout.

Libby app myths and misconceptions debunked

Between chatting with patrons on the Digital Bookmobile, assisting our technical support team while off the road, and being active in many online book communities, I spend a lot of time clarifying some common misconceptions about the Libby app. Although Libby is designed to have an easy-to-use interface, some of the intricacies of digital lending can be confusing.

Here are three of the most common myths and misconceptions about the Libby app debunked:

Books in Libby are digital, so you can read and listen to the same checkout.
Trust me, I’ll be the first person in line if this feature were to ever become available. I would love to read the same book before bed that I listen to while I do chores without having to backtrack to figure out what is going on! Unfortunately, because the cost of audiobook production is so high compared to ebooks, their price points are very different. So libraries purchase the two formats individually and circulate those titles separately.

What I recommend when a user wishes to both read and listen to a title is to borrow the title in both formats at once. Keep in mind that because they are two separate books, you will need to manually keep track of where you left off in each format when you make the switch from one to the other. It takes a bit of patience (Deliver Later will become a feature you rely on heavily), but I have known a few people that find it totally worth it. If you are really into workarounds, you could borrow the title in both formats and use two separate devices (or open the app and libbyapp.com in a web browser on the same device) to read and listen at the same time.

You can tell the difference between an ebook and an audiobook by their jacket cover. Audiobooks will have a pair of headphones on at the bottom of the jacket cover, while ebooks will not. You can also tap a title’s jacket cover to view its format on the title details page.

Libby is the library.
I’ve run into this situation both in person and virtually many times, where a Libby user thinks that when they are attending a webinar or contacting support via the Libby app, that they are talking to the staff that work at their library. The confusion is understandable because the books that you read in Libby are owned by your library, and the collection that you borrow from is specific to the library that you belong to.

However, Libby is an app used by many libraries across the globe. Libby is to libraries like DoorDash is to restaurants: a service (the app) that the library uses to get their products (books) into the hands of their customers (library patrons). It is most useful to know this distinction when you have questions so that you know who to contact to get the answers you’re looking for as quickly as possible.

In general, if you are inquiring about something that is specific to your library (i.e. What is my library card number or PIN?), contacting the library directly by phone or through their website will be your best bet. Despite many libraries being closed physically, many are still responding to their communications.

On the other hand, if you have a question regarding the app (i.e. How do I cancel a hold in Libby?) or you are in need of troubleshooting assistance, then our technical support team at OverDrive are the Libby experts you need. They can be contacted directly through the Libby App.

You can donate ebooks to Libby.
One thing I love about libraries is that they attract some of the most giving people, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when library patrons would write to our technical support team trying to donate their ebooks or audiobooks to their library’s digital collection. Here’s the thing: only titles purchased through OverDrive can be added to a library’s OverDrive collection; this is in large part due to publisher restrictions on digital content.

That doesn’t mean you are totally out of luck, though. Libraries often accept monetary donations, which are used to supplement their government funding. Depending on the library, you might even be able to specify if you would like your donation to be used toward their digital collection. In some cases, you can even donate the cost of a specific ebook or audiobook that you want the library to add to their collection.

Do you have a question about Libby that isn’t covered on Libby’s Help Site? Message us on Instagram (@DigitalBookmobile) or contact our support team through the app!

Gift Guide: Bookish Valentine

My family holds the world’s most unpopular opinion – Valentine’s Day is the best holiday of the year. My mother, self-proclaimed lover of all things cute, would go to the ends of the earth to make our Valentine’s Days as awesome as she possibly could for my siblings and me. What started as my mother’s excuse to spoil us with heart-shaped baked goods, dress us in fuzzy pink pajamas, and challenge us to craft the most intricate Valentine’s Day card boxes our classmates had ever seen, eventually grew into a genuine desire to spoil our friends and family with love.

If you are one of the many people that see Valentine’s Day as nothing more than a greeting card holiday but have to play along anyway for your loved one’s sake, don’t worry. I’ve put together a collection of great gift ideas that will be sure to spark joy for your book-loving valentine.

Bibliophiles can never have too many bookmarks, and what makes a bookmark such a great gift for Valentine’s Day is that every time your valentine opens their current read, they will be reminded of you. These Pressed Floral Bookmarks (Kayliereads Etsy Shop, $8) are absolutely beautiful, and the flowers last forever, unlike the dozen roses you could pick up at your local grocery store.

If you want to really impress, you could also spice up their bookshelf with a set of book jacket covers like these A Court of Thorns and Roses Jackets Only Set (Juniper Books, $45). Book Jacket sets can be pricey for what really just amounts to a few sheets of paper, but a lot of book lovers couldn’t put a price on a beautifully displayed book collection.

For the valentine that loves the convenience of ebooks and audiobooks, consider gifting them something to protect their device. This Walt Whitman Quote Phone Case (Society6, $33) is both practical and heartfelt, but just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean your gift has to be romantic or sappy. An ereader sleeve like this Magical Characters Device Sleeve (aHumForHope Etsy Shop, $24+) is a practical gift that also shows you pay attention to the things they enjoy most.

Keep your Libby loving valentine cozy with this Libby Hoodie (The OverDrive Shop, $30), which is just one of many items you can purchase from our shop that support the ALA Literacy Clearinghouse. Other fun apparel you can gift include this Book Lover Shirt (QualityAppearance Etsy Shop, $14+) or these Library Card Pride Socks (Out of Print, $12).

Finally, if you want to stay more traditional with your Valentine’s Day gifts, literary-inspired accessories can be an excellent choice. For your valentine that considers her bag her best friend, browse Etsy for a unique book inspired bag like this Pride and Prejudice Book Purse (WellReadCompany Etsy Shop, $50+). If jewelry is more there thing, Canadian maker Cara Ginter creates one-of-a-kind Custom Bracelet (Book’d Creations, $18) out of books. You can choose from a list of pre-selected titles or you can make an off-list request for a personal touch. If you are looking for a gender-neutral accessory, check out this Leather Apple Watch Band (miragewatchband Etsy Shop, $33+) which you can personalize with a favorite literary quote or reference.

Whether you go all out on the perfect gift or simply just write your valentine a card, the only thing that really matters is that your loved ones know how much you care about them. So, don’t stress too hard and simply give from the heart.

*Pricing reflects the listing on 02/05/2021 and does not include shipping or tax.

Bookstagram: Fun hashtags for every reader

Few digital spaces rival the quality of the bookstagram community. Of course, hashtags aid in the discovery of all that delicious lit content. There are hundreds out there, and many of them have the same or similar content within, like #igreads and #bookish. So, what hashtags should you follow to make your feed as fresh and diverse as it can be? Here are a few of my favorites:
#libbyapp & #soraapp
Open your To Be Read list! Not only will these hashtags keep you up to date on OverDrive’s latest app features and bookclubs like Big Library Read, #libbyapp and #soraapp are also filled with book recommendations and reviews from Libby or Sora users, librarians, and media specialists just like you!

#diybookshelf & #recycledbooks
If you fancy yourself a creative type, these hashtags won’t let you down. Struggling with the age-old problem of too many books, not enough shelf space? Perhaps you are holding on to a book that has had pages falling out of it since the ‘90s (it can’t only be me, right?). If you fancy yourself a creative type, these hashtags won’t let you down. Check out what other DIYers have created for or out of books in #diybookshelf and #recycledbooks!

#literaryink & #booktattoo
Not everyone is lucky enough to work at a company where book inspired tattoos are the norm, so you might have to rely on Instagram to see some of the amazing story-inspired body ink that is out there. Though similar in name, there are a few distinctions between the two hashtags. #booktattoo is more popular, with over 33k posts to date, but many of the tattoos are geared toward the general book lover. #literaryink is quite a bit smaller, with less than 10k posts, and the tattoos tend to reference a particular title or author.

#bookswag & #bookmerch
What booknerd doesn’t love filling their house with literary treasures? Both of these hashtags offer the same content: book-themed items that will have you drooling for days, but #bookmerch is a little more active. These hashtags are packed with everything from lit candles to bookish home décor. Be warned that you will have to practice a lot of self-restraint as you scroll through all of the amazing goodies, but these hashtags are particularly handy around the holidays, whether you are searching for the perfect gift for someone else or putting together your own wish list.

What book related hashtags do you swear by? Let us know over on our Instagram @DigitalBookmobile!

30 books that will make their way to the screen in 2021

Although it’s hard to come up with many 2020 silver linings, last year’s book to screen adaptations did provide a welcome escape in an otherwise crummy year. While, like me, you may be a firm believer that books are always better than their visual media counterparts, you must admit that occasionally the movie (or television series) adaptation can be pretty darn good in its own right. In fact, some of the best television I’ve ever seen was the raw, and often downright depressing, portrayal of chess prodigy Beth Harmon in Scott Frank’s adaptation of The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis that was released to Netflix in October.

With the new year comes new opportunities for directors to transform our favorite literary titles into visual masterpieces. To prepare, download the Libby or Sora apps and borrow these 30 books from your library’s digital collection before their screen adaptation is set to release in 2021:

Memoirs & Biographies

Scifi/Fantasy

Historical Fiction

Thriller

Contemporary Fiction

Children’s

YA

*Release dates are subject to change

End of year wrap-up: Our favorite Libby features and updates

What a year it has been for our little librarian. In addition to a whole new look, the Libby app has had a year full of fun and useful updates. The Libby team is always hard at work improving Libby’s accessibility, fulfilling user requests, and coming up with new ways to delight readers. Here are some of our favorite Libby updates that happened this year:

Users can export their notes, highlights, and bookmarks for a title

That’s right, bookworms! Book clubs just got a whole lot easier! This feature was one of the most common requests that we received when we were out on the road talking to library patrons about Libby. We are super excited that the next time we are visiting a library, we can give those users good news! To export notes, highlights, and bookmarks:

  1. Go to the title’s details screen in your library’s catalog.
  2. Tap Reading Journey.
  3. Tap Actions > Export Reading Data.
  4. Choose an export format for your notes, highlights, and bookmarks:
    • To export them to a web page, select Table. From there, you can bookmark the page for future use or share it with others.
      Note: The exported page also includes your circulation activity for the title.

To save them to your device, select Spreadsheet, then Bookmarks or Highlights. Exporting your highlights includes any notes.

Libby is now available in 10 languages

When traveling with the Digital Bookmobile, we meet so many people that speak a wide variety of languages, so we are thrilled that the Libby team added support for 9 additional languages. In addition to English, Libby is now available in Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French (Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish (Latin America), and Swedish.

Libby automatically uses the language your device or web browser is set to, as long as the language is supported in the app.
If you’d like to use Libby in a different language than your device:

  1. Go to (libby icon is acting up in quip).
  2. Tap Get Some Help.
  3. Choose your language (under “Common Solutions”).
Keyboard shortcuts make navigating ebooks and audiobooks easier

Speaking of accessibility, Libby’s reader and audiobook player are now completely navigable with a keyboard. Find out more about keyboard shortcuts with our help article here: Keyboard shortcuts for the ebook reader and audiobook player.

Libby is now compatible with Sonos

With other smart home systems (Google and Alexa), Libby can play audiobooks via Bluetooth, but this year we announced our newest smart home integration with Sonos. Households with Sonos wireless home sound systems can enjoy audiobooks from their Sonos speakers without the need to connect via Bluetooth. To connect Libby with a Sonos speaker:

  1. Add the Libby service in your Sonos Controller app.
  2. Sign into the Libby service:
    1. When prompted, enter your setup code from the Libby app.
    2. To get a setup code: Open Libby, then tap and hold (libby icon is acting up in quip) until a setup code appears.
  3. Once signed in, go back to the Sonos Conroller app and enter a name for your account.
  4. Tap on an audiobook on your shelf to start listening.
Users can now share their Libby tags and activity on Goodreads

Few communities are as passionate about cataloging as the book community, so Christmas came early with our September update. With the ability to export tags and activity, users can import these lists into their Goodread’s account, making it easier than ever to catalog both physical and digital reading materials. To import tags or activity into Goodreads:

  1. Export a tag or your activity as a Spreadsheet from Libby.
  2. Send or transfer the spreadsheet to a computer.
  3. On your computer, follow Goodreads’s steps to import books into your account.

New Orleans: A book lover’s travel plans

With its rich history, decadent food scene, and title as the most haunted city in the United States, the city I was most excited to travel to this year was without a doubt New Orleans. The second I found out that the Digital Bookmobile was heading to The Crescent City, I started forming an itinerary. The initial research took a few hours. I then spent several days begrudgingly crossing activities off of my list until I could squeeze my must-dos into the four days we would spend in New Orleans. I would be lying if I said that I did not resort to flipping coins and asking my Magic 8 Ball.

You can imagine my disappointment when just nine days before my plane was to land in Louisiana, word came that we would be postponing our 2020 tour, and with it the possibility of eating gumbo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner would have to wait as well. If and when I get my chance to explore The Big Easy, here are three things I can’t wait to do:
Have a drink at The Carousel Bar
Designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association, Hotel Monteleone is at the very top of my list of places to visit in New Orleans. Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Anne Rice, and William Faulkner are just some of the literary icons that frequented the hotel. While the fact that the hotel is haunted is one of the reasons I’d like to visit, I’m also very aware that I’m too much of a wimp to ever stay overnight, so I’m settling for a drink at the Carousel Bar inside the hotel.

I know that it sounds a little lame that I am only planning on getting a drink at the bar of an iconic haunted hotel, but the Carousel Bar is famous in its own right. As guests enjoy Pimm’s Cups and are lulled by the enticing sounds of live jazz, they are slowly rotated around the bartenders as if they were on a carousel. I truly hope that the experience lives up to the extra hype this year has allowed me to collect while I wait.

Stop by Faulkner House Books
There is something so comforting about being surrounded by books that I just can’t resist, so you can often find me scouting out bookstores on most of the stops we make on the tour. My time in New Orleans will be no different, especially when the city is home to a bookstore located in the very building William Faulkner lived while writing his very first (published) novel Soldier’s Pay.

Despite my addiction to exploring books stores, I typically avoid purchasing much of anything while out on the road for lack of space in my suitcase, but I am definitely going to make an exception during my visit to Faulkner House Books. I would live to regret it if I passed on the opportunity to purchase a copy of his work sold out of his very own former home.

Explore Beauregard-Keyes Historic House & Garden
I’m not even a little ashamed to admit that I frequently spend my free time looking at houses for sale without the slightest intention to ever purchase one. I love to search for the perfect house in cities I will likely never live in. It’s my version of online window shopping, except I am unable to put things into a cart while pretending I can afford it all.

For the same reasons I love window shopping for spacious 1 bedrooms in places like Vancouver, British Columbia, I love visiting old historic houses across the United States. Once home to many of New Orleans’ well-known residents like world famous chess player Paul Morphy, and then years later The Old Gray Homestead author Frances Parkinson Keyes, Beauregard-Keyes Historic House & Garden is steeped in New Orleans history that I can’t wait to discover.

While there are many other literary sights the city has to offer and even more opportunities outside the world of books that make New Orleans such an exciting city to visit, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can at least check these three off of my list twelve-page Google Doc in 2021.

5 travel memoirs that will take you across the United States while staying safe at home

November 1st usually signifies that the end of the Digital Bookmobile tour is near. After ten months out on the road, I begin counting down the days until I can sleep in my own bed and snuggle my cats during the holiday season. After cancelling our tour in March, I have spent the last ten months feeling road sick instead, and now, at a time I’m usually happy to be returning home, my desire to travel with the Digital Bookmobile is at an all-time high.

To quench my thirst for travel (or perhaps make it worse), I’m spending November living vicariously through these authors that wrote memoirs about their experiences traveling across America. If the travel bug is also buzzing annoyingly in your ear, check out these five books from your library’s digital collection:


The Road Headed West by Leon McCarron
Terrified of the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or excitement, Leon takes off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense.

Over five months and 6000 miles, he cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornados, swollen river crossings, wild roaming buffalo and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.

Citizen U.S.A by Alexandra Pelosi
In the HBO(r) documentary tentatively titled Citizen U.S.A., acclaimed filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi sets out on a road trip across America to attend naturalization ceremonies in all fifty states to meet brand-new citizens and find out why they chose America as their home. What she discovers is that America welcomes them all – the disabled, the cancer patients, LGBTQIA+, Obama- haters, Christian missionaries, Muslim imams, Jewish rabbis, Buddhist monks, scientists with Ph.D.s (trying to find the cure for all the diseases that are plaguing us), tech giants in Silicon Valley, movie directors, race car drivers, and even a wrestler with his own action figure!

Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel
A memoir of one young man’s coming of age on a journey across America—told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the way.

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide.

Strays by Britt Collins
Homeless, alcoholic, and depressed, Michael King lives in a UPS loading bay on the wrong side of Portland, Oregon. One rainy night, he stumbles upon a hurt, starving, scruffy cat and takes her in. Nursing her back to health, he names her Tabor. When winter comes, they travel from Oregon to the beaches of California to the high plains of Montana, surviving blizzards and bears, angry steers and rainstorms. Along the way, people are drawn to the spirited, beautiful cat and moved to help Michael.

Tabor comforts Michael when he’s down, giving him someone to love and care for, inspiring him to get sober and come to terms with his past family traumas and grief over the death of his partner. But when Michael takes Tabor to a vet in Montana, he discovers that she has an identification chip and an owner who has never given up hope of finding her. Michael makes the difficult choice to return to Portland to reunite Tabor with her owner and learn to create a new purpose in his life after Tabor.

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
In September 1960, John Steinbeck embarked on a journey across America. He felt that he might have lost touch with the country, with its speech, the smell of its grass and trees, its color and quality of light, the pulse of its people. To reassure himself, he set out on a voyage of rediscovery of the American identity, accompanied by a distinguished French poodle named Charley and riding in a three-quarter-ton pickup truck named Rocinante.

Travels with Charley in Search of America is an intimate look at one of America’s most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. Written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—Travels with Charley in Search of America is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade.