Arlington Reads Together Theme is Puerto Rico

The Arlington Reads Together (ART) committee is pleased to announce the 2020 community read.  This year, the committee chose three books based around the common

theme of Puerto Rico: the memoir When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, the graphic novel anthology Puerto Rico Strong edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz, and the children’s picture book Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore with collages by Susan L. Roth.  

Since 2003, readers in Arlington have been coming together through literature to engage with ideas and issues facing the community.  This year, a thematic program with three titles to choose from invites readers of all ages and to participate in the program.  

The committee discussed a variety of topics before settling on the theme of Puerto Rico.  Stacy Kitsis, Library Media Teacher at Arlington High School says, “I’m personally fascinated by the idea of Puerto Rico as both a mirror and a window, being both a U.S. territory and much in the news in recent years, while at the same time seemingly mysterious or misunderstood by many. It will be a great opportunity to explore the experience of being Puerto Rican together as a community during this year’s community read, and especially fortuitous timing in that we are sending a group of AHS students to visit Puerto Rico later this spring.”  

Librarian Verónica Rodríguez  says of the trio of titles, “We want everyone in the community to feel like they can participate, so instead of using a ‘one size fits all approach’ we went with ‘there’s a little bit of everything for everybody.’”  Librarian Rob Lorino adds, “This move allows more people in the community to engage with our chosen topic in a way that’s accessible to them and will allow more members of our community to participate in the rich dialog we open up every year with Arlington Reads Together.”  Head of Children’s Services Pam Watts-Flavin says, “We’re so excited to have three fantastic books to choose from this year.  Each book highlights a different aspect of Puerto Rico with some art, some wildlife, some history, some folklore and some personal memoir. All this adds up to a great picture of Puerto Rico!”

Library visitors can pick up copies of the books at the Robbins or Fox branch libraries. Staff members are always happy to place holds in person or over the phone as well.  

Events, book discussions and more take place during March 2020.  A full schedule of events and programs will follow. 

Arlington Reads Together is a project of the Robbins Library in partnership with the Envision 2020 Diversity Task Group.  The program is generously funded by the Arlington Libraries Foundation, the Friends of the Robbins Library, and the Trustees of the Library.   Questions can be directed to Anna Litten at or 781-316-3202.



Posted in Arlington Reads Together | Leave a comment

Cookbook Club on February 3!

Registration is open for our February meeting of Cookbook Club, which will be held on February 3 from 6:30-8 in the Robbins Library Community Room.

We’ll be cooking from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi, a book of recipes that are all supposed to be easy or fast or use few ingredients.

Copies of the book are available at the front desk. Register by January 29 by emailing Linda at with the name of the recipe you want to make. A list of recipes that have already been chosen (plus more information about Cookbook Club) can be found here.

In addition to eating a lot of food, we’ll talk about the recipes and how we like them, if they were simple as advertised, if we did anything different from the instructions, and whether we’d make our dish again. Don’t forget to bring a container for leftovers to take home!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Arlington’s Libraries Ring in the New Year with Automatic Renewals

Do your New Year’s resolutions include “read more books”? Good news, library book

Senior Library Assistant Sheila Berry Helps a Library Visitor Renew Books

Senior Library Assistant Sheila Berry Helps a Library Visitor Renew Books

renewals just got a lot more convenient. Thanks to a Minuteman Library Network-wide change, your library checkouts will renew themselves!

Effective January 1, Arlington’s Libraries and the 40 other Minuteman Library Network member libraries implemented automatic renewals. Library borrowers no longer have to manually renew books, videos or other library items (with some exceptions, like art prints). Items will automatically renew two days before they would be due, and borrowers will receive an email with the new due date. 

The email will also note any items that could not be renewed, and in those cases will list the original due date. These would likely be items on hold for another person, items that had already been renewed the maximum number of times for that type of item, or items that do not allow for renewals (like art prints).

Minuteman Executive Director Phil McNulty notes, “Staff were very excited to allow people to start doing this. When the Circulation Heads of each library met in October they decided to fast-track the implementation, and got the recommendation to Directors in November, who overwhelmingly voted to begin auto-renewals at the start of the new year.”

Minuteman joins most of the other eight library networks in the state in using auto-renewals, with Cape Cod’s “CLAMS” system having implemented it near the end of 2019.

While auto-renewals only apply to physical materials, ebook and downloadable audiobook users of Minuteman’s digital collection and the Libby app will also get a bonus early in the new year. Later this season, users will be able to defer their holds if too many become available at once. Currently, digital holds check out automatically even if users do not have time to read them all. 

Arlington’s Director of Libraries Andrea Nicolay says, “I’m happy to see auto-renewals following so closely on the heels of Arlington’s decision last year to eliminate overdue fines. This new convenience of auto-renewals and the shift to holds deferrals for digital users, combined with forthcoming improvements to self-checkout services in Arlington, will make the library more user-friendly than ever.”

Library users can find information about these new features at or by following Minuteman Library Network on Facebook and Twitter

For more information about services at Arlington’s public libraries, visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rosa Colón Guerra: Puerto Rican Storytelling & Activism through Comics

Copy of Rosa Colón GuerraStop by and meet Puerto Rican illustrator and comics artist, Rosa Colón Guerra. Rosa writes and illustrates comics focusing on Puerto Rico’s financial crisis and life during Hurricane María and its aftermath. She’s been published in The Nib, Splinter News and Lion Forge’s Eisner winner Puerto Rico Strong Anthology.

Register here:

To learn more about Rosa Colón Guerra, visit:

Posted in Arlington Reads Together, Programs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Best Books from Robbins & Fox Library Staff

Happy New Year!!!  Here are the Robbins & Fox Library librarians’ top books of 2019!

As usual, far too many to list! But here are a few anyway:

Wordslut by Amanda Montell
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Adult fiction:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey
Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth – Philip Pullman

Indian No More – Charlene Willing McManus
This Was Our Pact – Ryan Andrews
White Bird – R. J. Palacio
Stargazing – Jen Wang

Homesick: Stories by Nino Cipri
Homesick is a short story anthology by one of my favorite authors. Cipri is a master at crafting unsettling narratives that leave you disturbed but hopeful. I highly recommend their stories “Which Little Dead Girl Are You?” and “Presque Vu” but you can’t go wrong with any of the stories in this book. My favorite story that I hadn’t read before was a story of a woman who finds a giant pollen puff after divorcing her husband. You’d have to read it to understand.

Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

I’ve been reading Westerfeld since I was a teenager. His newest series continues in the same world as his Uglies series and it just shows how much he has grown as an author. A diverse cast of teens and our protagonist Frey reckon with the events of the first book in the series. As a twin raised simply to protect her sister, Frey has some serious identity issues. Some events of her past are coming back to haunt her and so is her uncertain future. A great sci-fi book for teens.

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll
Emily Carroll is just a great horror author. Her graphic novels never fail to make me super creeped out. This is a single story and though I think there were a few pacing problems with it being longer form, I still loved it. The art is terrifying, the story is chilling and vague, the book is great.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo

Raven was always one of my favorite teen titans. Seeing her adapted as a modern day teen, with her unique origin story, was really cool. There’s a lot of angst, a lot of discovering yourself, a lot of ‘what does family mean’ and it’s pulled off really well.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu
THIS BOOK IS SO CUTE! A witch, a nonbinary werewolf, a secret cult. And lots and lots of good friendship feelings. Read this, you won’t regret it.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER and it was worth the wait. Even if you didn’t grow up queer, the feeling of being attracted to someone who you view as cooler than you should resonate with everyone. But Mariko Tamaki creates such a great young queer girl experience in this book that it’s heartbreaking. You will want to reach into the book and help out as you watch Freddy make teenage mistakes. It’s very good.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
With just two characters, this book should be boring. But if you count The Cave as a third character (and you should), it becomes a horrifying book of isolation, mistrust, and toxic family dynamics. A must read if you’re into claustrophobic horror.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Arguably the romance of the year, this story is about the son of the first female US President who falls for his arch-nemesis, the Prince of Wales. It’s sweet and hilarious and uplifting, and fantastic on audio.

I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
The book we all need right now, and have probably needed for a while. The two women who host the Pantsuit Politics podcast have published a helpful guide to talking about politics without getting mired in partisanship.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Cinderella’s stepsister Isabelle, who cut her own toes off to fit her foot in the glass slipper, is a compelling protagonist in this retelling/sequel to Cinderella. Isabelle didn’t even want to marry the prince and now she and her sister and stepmother have been ostracized. This is an empowering story filled with adventure, magic, and love.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
In 1940, a young woman is kicked out of Vassar, then sent to live with her aunt in New York, where she makes a stupid mistake with big repercussions. This story of growth and redemption is made all the better by Elizabeth Gilbert’s beautiful way with words and imagery.

The Way Home: Tales From a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle
Mary Boyle moved to a smallholding in Ireland to make a life that is not damaging to himself or the planet, doing everything by hand or going without. He didn’t even have plumbing or electricity. More a collection of vignettes than a straight-up memoir, I found this book thoughtful and inspiring.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Snap Flash Hustle Vol. 1 by Pat Shand, Illus. Emily Pearson
The Dollmaker by Nina Allan
Shades of Magic graphic novels by V.E. Schwab, illus. Andrea Olimpieri
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Goddess Mode Vol. 1 by Zoe Quinn, Illus. Robbi Rodriguez

Some of my favorite series either continued or concluded this year too, so here’s a list of those:
Monstress, Vol. 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu, illus. Sana Takeda
The Ascent to Godhood by J.Y. Yang
Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes by local favorite Joanne Chang for any baking enthusiast.
The Need by Helen Phillips for the new parent
The Testaments by the Queen Maragaret Atwood
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid a perfect book to take on a trip and guess the casting of the inevitable movie adaptation

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Best Video Games of 2019

Here’s a roundup of our librarians’ favorite video games in 2019!

Control (PS4, XBox One, PC)
A wildly entertaining 3rd person shooter game that puts you in the shoes of Jessie Faden, a woman who is seeking out an X-Files-esque government organization known as the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC). When she enters the building she serendipitously assumes the mantle of Director of the whole operation in the middle of a huge crisis – an entity known as the Hiss have infiltrated the building and the building is put on lockdown to prevent the Hiss from spreading to the rest of the world. Jessie explores the building, battling the Hiss along the way and discovering more about the Hiss and the paranatural mysteries that the FBC investigates and contains. Gameplay is engaging and difficult, but not to a punishing degree. There’s plenty of compelling story throughout the main narrative, but I especially loved picking up the little bits and pieces of lore scattered around the building in the form of notes, videos, and audio recordings. I’m eagerly waiting for the forthcoming DLC stories!

Saga: Scarlet Grace – Ambitions (Switch, PS4, PC)
As a huge Saga series fan, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for this game to get a localization ever since it came out in Japan in 2016.  It got a Japanese expanded port in 2018 and I thought we might finally see it stateside then, but it was not to be.  Then suddenly this year we got news that it was FINALLY getting a US release date and I was ecstatic.  The game did not disappoint.  In typical Saga fashion you pick between one of 4 protagonists to act as your main character with different stories.  You traverse the world completing the character’s story missions as well as a slew of shared story mission that help flesh out the world, recruiting characters along the way.  The gameplay was a lot more strategic than in past Saga titles, which I really enjoyed.  The series staple of “glimmering” new techniques mid-battle was present as always, as was the series penchant for having open-ended and sometimes obtuse requirements for quests.  I found this to actually be really enjoyable once I found a few guides online to help me with some of the weirder things.  I found the artwork and the world to be thoroughly entrancing and my main character’s narrative was more than entertaining enough to keep me engaged throughout.  The series never gets enough interest in the US, but if you’re a fan of RPGs this is one you should not miss!

Greedfall (PS4, XBox One, PC)
I’ve been a fan of Spider’s games ever since I picked up Technomancer a few years back.  It was a good game with lots of promise, but wasn’t completely polished.  The prequel, Mars: War Logs, was even less polished but even in that there was something there.  Greedfall is leaps and bounds beyond both of those games and makes me even more excited for the future of the studio.  The game is set up like other familiar western RPGs like Dragon Age, semi-open world with towns that act as hubs where you can meet characters, accept and complete quests, and more.  The world of Greedfall is one where a mysterious illness has befallen the city of Serene and the lands beyond it on the mainland.  An island has been discovered with unique flora and fauna that scientists hope may lead to a cure for the fatal malady.  The island is already populated, however, and there are those that come from the mainland for many purposes including researching a cure, converting the natives to the mainland’s religion, and trade to name a few.  The game explores themes of colonialism throughout, though not to the extent I wish they had.  It’s an ambitious topic to tackle in any format, but because you play as a diplomat in this game you’re rewarded for appeasing all sides on the island even when what they’re doing is monstrous.  That aside, the game was a lot of fun and the narrative takes a lot of surprising twists and turns throughout that will keep you on your toes.  If you play the game sticking to your morals instead of trying to appease everyone, then you’ll get a really powerful story out of it.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
I’ve always enjoyed the Fire Emblem series but most of the games haven’t felt like they really had a ton of heft to them narratively.  That changed with Three Houses, where you play a professor at a military academy and lead one of, you guessed it, three houses that each represent a faction in the world of Fódlan.  The first half of the game lets you get to know all the students and world while you teach and engage in mock battles.  In the second half of the game, war breaks out and you put the skills you and your students learned to the test.  The narrative you get completely changes based on which house you choose and your player character seems to have a calming effect on whichever house leader you ally with, bringing out the best in them and quelling their more negative traits.  I was confused about all the negative things being said about the house leader I chose to ally with until I watched some videos where she was the antagonist.  She was almost a completely different person in the other leaders’ routes.  The gameplay is largely what you’d expect from a tactical roleplaying game like Fire Emblem, but there are a few additions that help keep things interesting.  What’s new for this game as well is that you have built in downtime to get to know your students and train with them, which was reminiscent of the Persona series.  This game was hands down the best game in the series, and I recommend it to newcomers to the series and series veterans alike!

Pokemon Sword/Shield (Switch)
I was so hyped for this game and it did not disappoint! I loved the British inspired setting and there were so many new Pokemon designs I loved, I had a really hard time picking just 6 to use on my final team. The narrative & gameplay follow the tried and true Pokemon formula with a few interesting twists. One of these twists is Max Raid Battles, where you fight Dynamaxed or Gigantamax versions of Pokemon, which are huge and sometimes change the Pokemon’s form. These battles are tackled by 4 trainers at a time – either local friends, other players online, or randomly generated NPCs. The story was among the best in the series and the stadium-style battles were an entertaining & novel approach to gym battles. I especially enjoyed that the post-game had its own narrative that tied things up in a satisfying way.


Oh and I guess Magic: Arena and Pokemon were pretty good.

VeroI loved The Outer Worlds. I just wish it had been longer.
Posted in Video Games | Leave a comment

Not-So Young Adult Book Group Reads To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (January 27)

The next NSYA group meeting will take place on Monday, January 27 at 7pm in the 4th floor’s conference room. We’ll be discussing To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

Goodreads description:
15749186To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Copies of the book are available at the front desk.

Posted in Book group | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


This month we’ve asked our librarians to share their favorite media with experimental/non-traditional narrative structures. Check out their responses below:

House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
Hotel World – Ali Smith
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the world – Haruki Murakami
Cult of the Ibis – Daria Tessler
The Mezzanine – Nicholson Baker
Atrocity Exhibition – J.G. Ballard
Electric Arches – Eve Ewing
The Palm Wine Drunkard and my Life in the Bush of Ghosts – Amos Tutuola
Trout Fishing in America – Richard Braudigan
The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

Picture books that break the “fourth wall” – when the narrator or characters talk directly to the reader(s) and encourage them to do or say certain things – can be really fun. Here are a few of my favorites for sharing with kids (or leafing through yourself!):
There’s A Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott
Mix It Up and Press Here by Herve Tullet
Tap the Magic Tree and Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson
Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter
Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda
Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau
I Will Chomp You! by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea

Films: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Arrival, Twin Peaks
Books: Homegoing by Yaa Ghyasi, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by
Stephen Chbosky, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Experimental is so hard for me to define! Here’s a few I can think of that fit the bill for me:

Stet – By Sarah Gailey: Gailey always writes something that really gets to the heart of me. They’re an amazing writer. I love what they did with this story, telling it in edits to an academic abstract. As the reader goes through and starts to understand what the story is truly about, it’s chilling.

I think I’ve consumed the most experimental fiction narratives through video games though. Games like Journey, The Stanley Parable, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I remember the first time I played Journey and the slow discovery of the world and exploring it with this other person I couldn’t talk to except in a single tonal chime. It’s a really beautiful game.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Loving Vincent

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
The physical copy is designed to look like a nightmarish Ikea catalog. The story alone would be about a stereotypical haunted place, but by adding a more graphic and visual element, readers can picture their worst nightmare in a furniture warehouse setting.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore finds a young woman in a mysterious house with strange goings-on. She comes to a juncture in which she needs to decide which path to follow, and at this point it splits off into five different storylines. It’s kind of like a choose-your-own adventure, but so much better.

My Real Children by Jo Walton is about an old woman in a nursing home who suffers from dementia. She remembers two entirely different versions of her life and we get them both in alternating chapters. Her early life is all one story until the point at which her boyfriend tells her that if they want to get married, it’s now or never. It’s especially interesting because it’s not just the past that’s confusing, but also the present – she has different children in each version of her life, but remembers all of them visiting her here at the nursing home recently.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn is possibly the most unusual on my list. Set on the fictional island of Nollop, a statue with the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” which is located in the town center begins losing its letters. As each letter falls, the islanders must stop using them in their speech, and they also disappear from the novel. The author gets pretty creative as the novel progresses.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott
Death Threat by Vivek Shraya, illus. Ness Lee
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Handmaiden

ControlPS4, Xbox One, PC
Gris – Switch, PS4, PC
Detroit: Become HumanPS4, PC
Hellblade: Senua’s SacrificePS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Bound – PS4
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines – PS Vita
Pyre – PS4, PC
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – Game Cube
GrimGrimoire – PS2
Record of Agarest War series – PS3, Xbox 360, PC

What are some of your favorite titles that have experimental/non traditional narrative structures?  Let us know in the comments below!

Posted in Books, Movies, Video Games | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(Reminder) Game Chat: Horror Edition

Don’t Forget!

stefanoevilwithin2Join us for our SECOND meeting of Game Chat! It’s like a book club, but for video games!

Game Chat: Horror Edition
Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 7pm

Robbins Library Conference Room
Continue reading

Posted in Video Games | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Not-So Young Adult Book Group Reads A Thousand Sisters by Elizabeth E. Wein (December 16)

The next NSYA group meeting will take place on Monday, December 16 at 7pm in the 4th floor’s conference room. We’ll be discussing Thousand Sisters: the heroic airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War I by Elizabeth E. Wein


Goodreads description:

The gripping true story of the only women to fly in combat in World War II—from Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name Verity

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.

Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war.

Copies of the book are available at the front desk.

Posted in Book group | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment