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19 of the Best Books of 2021
A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books.
“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner
In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”
“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.
In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.
“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman
At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.”
“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney
New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.”
“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.”
“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo
Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”
“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer
In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The Los Angeles Times writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more.
“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers
In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves.
“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu
Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”
“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro
What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”
“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell
Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”
“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston
In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the Red, White & Royal Blue author.
“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So
In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”
“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion
Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read.
“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura
Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”
“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters
In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”
“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk
In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”
“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi
In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.
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- Borrowing Kindle Books from your library's OverDrive website or the OverDrive app
You can borrow Kindle Books from your library's OverDrive website or the OverDrive app, then read them on Kindle devices or Kindle reading apps .
Note: Kindle Books are currently available for U.S. libraries only.
If you're using a Fire tablet , please refer to our guide on getting started with the OverDrive app .
How to borrow and deliver Kindle Books
- Open your library's digital collection (you can find it using www.overdrive.com ).
- Select Borrow . If prompted, sign into your library.
Your Kindle ereader needs a Wi-Fi connection to download library Kindle Books from Amazon. If you don't have a Wi-Fi connection, you'll need to transfer the title via USB .
Once a book is on your Kindle device or reading app, you can read it just like any other Kindle Book. For specific help reading on your device (like how to change the font or save a bookmark), visit Amazon Device Support .
If you want to read the ebook on a different Kindle device or app, you can deliver it again from Amazon's website during the lending period.
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- How to renew Kindle Books from your library
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How to Borrow Books on Your Kindle Paperwhite
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Your Kindle Paperwhite allows you to borrow books. That's right, you don't necessarily have to buy those books. It's not quite the same as it was before e-books, but remember the library?
How to borrow Kindle books from the Library
Many public libraries allow Kindle e-books to be checked out. How does this work? The e-book is made available to you for a fixed amount of time — the loan period varies by library. When the loan expires, the e-book is no longer available to you, unless you check it out again or purchase it from Amazon's Kindle Store.
You can make highlights, add notes, and include bookmarks in a borrowed library e-book. Those annotations are preserved even after the e-book loan expires, in case you later decide to purchase the e-book or borrow it again.
To borrow e-books, go to your local public library's website. If your library supports OverDrive digital e-book services, you can check out Kindle-compatible e-books. Note that you have to use your library card, just as you would when borrowing a print book.
Public library e-books for Kindle e-readers are presently available only in the United States.
From your library's website, you can have the e-book delivered wirelessly to your Kindle through Wi-Fi. (They aren't distributed over a 3G connection.) Note that some publishers allow books to be transferred to your Kindle Paperwhite only by using the USB cable. These books also cannot be read on other devices such as an iPhone or a PC (using the Kindle app).
How to borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library
If you're an Amazon Prime member, you have access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Amazon Prime is a $79-a-year subscription program that provides a number of benefits to subscribers, including free shipping on Prime-eligible products; access to the Prime video library; and for Kindle owners, the opportunity to borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
At the time of this writing, close to 440,000 books were available, covering topics from fiction, to humor, to travel. For an overview, go to the Kindle store on your device and open the drop-down menu for All Categories. The Kindle Owners' Lending Library is the last item on the list.
Books that are available for Prime lending are displayed in the Kindle store with a Prime Members price of $0.00, followed by the Prime logo. You see this information if you're browsing the Kindle store from your computer or your Kindle Paperwhite.
Browse the options and read the descriptions. If you find a book that intrigues you, simply tap the Borrow for Free icon to download the book immediately to your Kindle Paperwhite.
You can borrow one book per month. You can't borrow a new book until the previously borrowed book has been returned. If you aren't eligible to borrow a book (that is, you've reached your monthly quota), the option to Borrow for Free appears dimmed at the Kindle Store.
If you have a borrowed book on your Kindle Paperwhite, you'll be asked to return the book before you can borrow another. Although you can borrow only one book per month, you can keep a book on your device for as long as you want — but you won't be able to borrow a second book until you return the first one.
Although you can see books that are available for borrowing while browsing the Kindle store using your computer, you have to use your Kindle Paperwhite to borrow a book. You can't send a borrowed book to your Kindle Paperwhite from your computer.
If you maintain a Wish List at Amazon, you can access it from your Kindle Paperwhite and see which books on your list are available for free borrowing. Tap Settings, and then swipe the list to see additional options. Your Wish List will be at the top of the list. Tap it, and then Tap Kindle Wish List. Books that are available in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library will appear with the Prime logo.
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How do I send library eBooks to my Kindle or Kindle app?
FVRL offers Kindle format eBooks through OverDrive. Here's how to send them to your Kindle or Kindle app .
Find an eBook that's available in Kindle format.
Borrow a kindle title., finish borrowing on the amazon website., renew a kindle title., return a kindle title..
Most of OverDrive's eBooks are available in Kindle format. Here's how to find them if you're using:
- The FVRL catalog : Once you've searched for something you're interested in, click the "eBooks & eAudio" tab. Then find the "eFormat" filter in the left column and select "Kindle" to see only Kindle titles.
- The FVRL catalog app : Before you search, set the "Search in" filter to "eBooks & eAudio." You can't narrow the results down to only Kindle format, but when you borrow a title, you'll see if "Borrow Now - Kindle" is an option.
- The Libby app (or libbyapp.com ): Search for something you're interested in, then select Refine > Supports > Kindle to see only Kindle titles. To always display Kindle titles only, tap Preferences > Supports > Kindle .
- The OverDrive website : Search for something you're interested in, then use the "eBooks" filter to select "Kindle" to see only Kindle titles. To browse through all the Kindle titles, select "Kindle books" in the header. And to always display Kindle titles only, go to My Account > Settings and pick Kindle .
Why aren't all titles available in Kindle format?
Because Kindle format belongs to Amazon, and it's up to them to make Kindle files available. Though this usually happens, it's not 100%.
The good news is that we can always ask OverDrive to request the Kindle file from Amazon. This often works, but not always. If you run across a title not available in Kindle format, let us know, and we'll pass the request on to OverDrive.
In the meantime, your options depend on what type of device(s) you have for reading eBooks. If you have only a Kindle eReader, there isn't much you can do besides wait. But if you have a smartphone, tablet, computer, or newer Kindle Fire, etc., see "Here's what to do if you pick the wrong format" below to find ways to read other formats.
After you pick a title, select "Borrow." Then choose the format: "Kindle" or "Read now with Kindle" or "Read with Kindle."
Here's what to do if you pick the wrong format .
After you select Kindle format, you'll be sent to the Amazon website.
- If you're signed into your Amazon account, verify which device the book will go to and select "Get library book." (You'll need internet connection to download the book.)
- If you're not signed in to your Amazon account, select "Get library book," sign in, and then pick your device.
- All your checked-out Kindle titles are listed in your Amazon account along with purchased Kindle titles. You'll find them under " Manage your content and devices ," with "Borrowed" after the title.
Once the library book is delivered to your Kindle, you read it just like any other Kindle title.
How can I send a Kindle book to another device?
- Sign in to your Amazon account under " Manage your content and devices ."
- Select the title.
- Select the "Deliver" button at the top of the list.
- Pick the device you want, and select "Deliver."
Basically, you renew the title in your app or on the OverDrive website, then remove the title from your Amazon account, then re-download it. For more detailed instructions, " How to renew Kindle books from your library " on OverDrive's help site.
Kindle titles return automatically at the end of your checkout period, like other eBooks.
Can I return a Kindle title early?
- Go to " Manage your content and devices " on Amazon and sign in if you aren't already.
- Find the book you want to return. It'll be in the list of all your Kindle titles, both purchased and library checkouts, and will say "Borrowed" after the title.
- Select the little box with three dots, to the left of the title.
- Select "Return this book."
Can I see a list of my former Kindle checkouts?
Yes! Previously checked-out titles are still in your Amazon account under " Manage your content and devices ," only they now say "Borrow expired" after the title.
But if you want, you can remove the title completely from your list by selecting the item and picking "Delete" from the top of the list.
Still having issues? You can Get Help Using FVRL's Online Resources , or try the OverDrive Help site or the Libby Help site .
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How to get library books on your Kindle for free and borrow the latest titles
- You can get library books on a Kindle device through Amazon's partnership with OverDrive, as long as you have a library membership with a participating institution.
- You can download library books on your Kindle through your library's website or using the OverDrive website.
- Not all libraries offer Kindle support, and some titles might be restricted and thus unavailable to download on your Kindle.
While Amazon's Kindle allows owners to purchase or rent ebooks from the company itself, some people may not know that access to your latest favorites on your e-reader is only a library card away. Those with a membership at their local library can access electronic books for free, thanks to Amazon's partnership with OverDrive.
It should be noted that not all libraries support the OverDrive lending system, so you'll need to verify that yours does before proceeding. Additionally, some Kindle Books such as picture books, read-alongs, and graphic novels will not be supported by the Kindle app or some devices.
When checking out a book, whether through your library or the OverDrive site, you'll want to find a "Device restrictions" link, or something similar, under the "Available formats" section to confirm compatibility. You can also read the book, once borrowed, within the OverDrive app if you don't have your Kindle handy.
Once all of that is in place, you're ready to get started. Here's how to read library books on your Kindle.
What you need to read library ebooks on your Kindle
Checking out ebooks through OverDrive is a relatively straightforward process, but you will need a few things in addition to your library membership before proceeding.
- A Kindle device, the Kindle Cloud Reader, or the Kindle app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.
- An access pin to the OverDrive catalog, which can be obtained from your library.
- A Wi-Fi connection or a computer and USB cord through which to load your borrowed books onto your Kindle device
How to check out library books on a Kindle through your library's website
1. Visit the website of your local library and log into your account.
2. Use the library website's search tool to find eBooks or Kindle books.
3. Follow the website's instructions for checking them out. This will usually involve going to a title's details page and hitting the "Borrow" link.
4. During checkout, there should be an option to sign in to your Amazon account with your username and password. Follow the process, including selecting the Kindle device you would like your book(s) to be sent to.
5. Check that your Kindle is connected to WiFi.
6. Finally, download the library book via the device's Archived Items or Cloud section, both of which can be accessed through your Kindle's settings.
How to check out library books for your Kindle through the OverDrive website
1. Go to www.overdrive.com and sign in.
2. Open your library's digital collection.
3. Search for and find the book you want to borrow using the site's advanced search, format filter, or by visiting an ebook's details page and verifying that Kindle is an available format.
4. Titles will appear in two different formats. One will feature only an image of the book cover with the title and author. The other will feature the book cover, title, and author, with a designation that it's an "Ebook" and a link to "Borrow" it.
5. If the format you see has the "Borrow" link , click it.
6. If prompted, sign in to your library account.
7. If a lending period is available, select it now.
8. Choose "Borrow" again.
9. If the format only features the cover, author and title , click or tap the "More" option to be redirected to the ebook's details page.
10. Select "Borrow" before signing in to your library account, if prompted.
11. Go to your Account dashboard and access the Checkouts page.
12. The process for both formats should now be the same , and you should see the option to "Read now with Kindle." Click that link.
13. You'll be redirected to Amazon's site. If you aren't signed in, do so.
14. Choose "Get Library Book" and verify that the "Deliver to:" device is your Kindle if prompted.
Related coverage from Tech Reference :
5 ways to get free books on your kindle, from classics to new releases, how to share your kindle books in 2 different ways, how to buy and read kindle e-books on a mac computer, how to read kindle books on a pc in 2 different ways, how to delete books from your kindle device when you no longer need them, in 3 different ways, now watch: this bookstore has a very special collection of rare and expensive books.
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Which eReader Works Best with Library Books?
The short answer is....
None of them works well enough to be considered the "best."
We receive many queries on how to use eReaders, like a Kindle Paperwhite or a Kobo, with library eBooks.
Our advice has been that if you really want to enjoy the complete library eBook collection, please consider using a modern Android tablet or an iPad instead. If you do not mind the small screen, an Android phone or an iPhone will do the job as well.
Why eReaders do not work well with library resources?
eReader screens are best for your eyes, but their ecosystem does not work well with library eBook apps.
I call them library apps, but these are not developed or maintained by the Library. Some of you may not be aware of this, but libraries operate online-resource collections quite differently from our print collection.
As defined in our Collection Development Policy , “an electronic-resource collection is a collection of items in the form of online databases, e-books, streaming music, video and audiobooks, and various other services made available online.”
Public libraries do not usually purchase and own online resources like eBooks one by one as we do with printed books due to licensing restrictions and costs. Instead, libraries subscribe to online resource products from third party providers. All of these make up most of the items in our A-Z resources list.
Online resources for eBooks and eAudiobooks are best accessed via their own native Apps if they have one. This means you need to download those Apps onto your own devices in order to access and enjoy the content. A few examples here are Axis 360 , Hoopla , and Libby (Overdrive) .
Mostly, these apps do not work well with eReader platforms since they are usually made only for the iOS or Android. Moreover, they are only available via the Apple store or the Google Play Store . Only a few are available via the Amazon Appstore . If an eReader does not support installing apps from these app stores, it won't work.
Can I get library eBooks with an eReader?
Yes, you can borrow a small portion of the library's books, mainly some eBooks from Libby (OverDrive).
Depending on the device, the experience can be very different.
With Kindle eReaders like Kindle Paperwhite, You can read Libby (OverDrive) eBooks that have Kindle versions available. But only some do. Follow the steps in this Libby Help page to send a Libby book to Kindle eReaders. You can also watch a short video about reading Libby books with Kindle .
There is a built-in Libby (OverDrive) feature available for the following Kobo eReaders:
- Kobo Libra 2
- Kobo Elipsa
- Kobo Libra H2O
- Kobo Aura ONE
- Kobo Aura Edition 2
- Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2
- Kobo Clara HD
This makes it a bit easy to borrow and read OverDrive books right from your Kobo. Follow the steps on Kobo's help site to get started.
If you're using an older Kobo eReader, like an earlier Kobo Aura, Touch 2.0, or Glo, the procedure is more complicated. You'll need to transfer library ebooks from a computer using Adobe Digital Editions .
Android based eReaders
Onyx Boox and Boyue are the most popular Android based eReaders.
With Onyx Boox, try to get a modern device with recent Android versions and you can install all the library Apps available in Google Play Store. Library apps do get updated frequently, and the Apps can be incompatible with older versions of Android.
With Boyue, the Android version for their devices is very old. The company has upgraded the Likebook Mars from Android 6 to 8 in October 2021. Considering the newest Android version is now Android 12, please avoid using Boyue devices with library eBooks.
How about recently produced tablets?
The story with tablets produced in recent years is much simpler and they allow you to enjoy more library books.
Amazon Fire Tablets
If you have an Amazon Fire tablet, you can install the library apps available in the Amazon Appstore . Please keep in mind that the number of library apps in the Amazon Appstore is limited. You will get better coverage with an Android tablet or an iPad.
If you have a modern iPad, You can install all the library Apps available in the Apple store .
Modern Android Tablets
If you have a modern Android tablet, like a recent Samsung Galaxy Tab, you can install all the library Apps available in Google Play Store.
If you still have questions, feel free to check out our FAQs on Supported Devices for Online Resources . Also, you are welcome to reach out to eLibrary for help .
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Nearly every kind of book that corresponds to any section in a brick and mortar bookstore is available for Kindle. Most literature and fiction titles are available for Kindle, with titles exceeding 1 billion, as of 2015.
You can find your Kindle library’s contents by visiting Amazon.com on any Internet-enabled device. From the home page, click Your Account, and sign in. This leads to the account profile where you can find a link to your Kindle library.
A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk.
How to borrow and deliver Kindle Books · Open your library's digital collection (you can find it using www.overdrive.com). · Find a Kindle Book to
Yes. · If your library uses Overdrive or Libby, yes, *most* of their ebooks can be read in any Kindle app including on the Paperwhite. · Can a kindle handle
Get a library card and a PIN from your local library. · Go to the website of your local public library and search for "Kindle books" or "eBooks." · At checkout
From your library's website, you can have the e-book delivered wirelessly to your Kindle through Wi-Fi. (They aren't distributed over a 3G
This video will explain how to borrow e-books from Overdrive using a Kindle Paperwhite. If you need help, you can call the Wareham Free
The Kindle Paperwhite (and Oasis) requires a few extra steps to borrow library books, as opposed to the Kindle Fire.
Today, we go through the process of borrowing library books on Kindle using Libby and Overdrive.OverDrive: https://www.overdrive.com/Libby:
A very quick video to help you locate your books on your Kindle Paperwhite. I was reading by first book on my Kindle but couldn't work out
Once the library book is delivered to your Kindle, you read it just like any other
You can download library books on your Kindle through your library's website or using the OverDrive website. Not all libraries offer Kindle
With Kindle eReaders like Kindle Paperwhite, You can read Libby (OverDrive) eBooks that have Kindle versions available. But only some do.