Robbins Library to Open for Short-term Browsing by Appointment

Effective Monday, April 5, we are expanding services to include short-term browsing on all floors. The hours for browsing and all other library services will be Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Visit our Get a Browsing Pass page on Friday, April 2 to reserve a General Collections or Children’s Room pass for April 5 and beyond. If you need to book by phone, you can book starting April 2 via our appointment hotline: 781-316-3206. All visits are limited to 15 minutes and the maximum number of passes complies with the state’s Phase III Step 2 indoor capacity guidelines.

Passes are not required to check out reserved materials or contactless pickup materials in the lobby area.

Passes must be reserved at least one day in advance. To support socially distanced staff work stations, the library’s Reading Room will continue to be off-limits for now, and new books and speed reads have been relocated near the Reference Desk.   

Look for Mobile Checkout in “My Account”

With the new Mobile Checkout feature in the Minuteman Library Network’s free app, you can pick a book off the shelf and use the in-app barcode scanner to check the item out to yourself on the spot–a great way to skip the line and save time. Traditional self-checkout stations will be available in the Children’s Room and on the first floor near the Reference Desk. A second checkout service point is being added in the lobby for browsers who also have reserved materials to pick up. 

Safety measures include floor markers, required masks for all visitors over age 2, regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, and hand sanitizer stations on all floors. Reference Desk transactions are limited to 5 minutes, and remote help will be offered to those needing more time or in-depth assistance.  

“We’re so happy to be at this point,” says Director of Libraries Andrea Nicolay. “A public library needs its public! We can’t wait to reopen Fox too, hopefully later this summer. Fox staff are temporarily relocated at Robbins to help things run smoothly and safely.”

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Red Letter Poem #54

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The Jewish Passover; Christianity’s Easter; Islamic Ramadan; Hindu’s Holi; the Wiccan Ostara; the April festival referred to as Buddha’s Birthday; and countless others. One aspect of the holiness inherent in these holidays focuses on that most human of experiences: winter has released its grip – the earth is becoming green again. No matter where you make your home on this planet, there are the hard and fallow seasons of the year, and others where fertility and renewal are ascendant. The angel of death passes over our community – and then we rejoice at our survival.

America and the world are slowly moving through the cruelest and most unyielding of winters in recent memory; the pandemic drove us indoors to hunker down in isolation, desperate for that invisible storm to finally pass us by. We are presently going through our second Covid spring – and with vaccinations becoming more widespread, we have reason to pray (however you interpret that word, and whatever your family’s tradition) that spring will bring us reason to celebrate.

Charles Coe’s writing is filled with celebration: of family, memory, history; of the beauty surrounding us and those inner clearings we retreat to for a sense of peace. Poet, educator, singer, blogger, raconteur, he published his third collection, Memento Mori (Leapfrog Press) in 2019. Running all through the poet’s work there is praise for endurance, continuity; but the challenge is how can we endure while still keeping our hearts intact in an often-brutal world? The answer, his poems seem to suggest, involves more than stubborn determination; you have to find a way to love the world despite its failings, despite the obstacles placed in your path. It’s by no means an easy discipline, but necessary nonetheless. Sometimes the insight contained in a poem strengthens our resolve. When I first read Charles’ simple and simply beautiful poem, “Prayer”, in the recent collection, I felt he’d managed to transform the ordinary into a Red Letter day. Holy.

Red Letter Poem #54: 

Red Letter 54

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Mobile checkout is here!

It’s simple to use the Minuteman Library Network app to check out books and other library materials from your phone or other device. Download the app from the Apple App Store, from Google Play or for the Kindle fire.

Open the app, click into My Account, select Mobile Checkout, use the in-app scanner to read item barcodes, and you’re ready to go!

FAQ

Q: Do I need to return my items to the library, or can I pass them on to a friend to check out?

A: You must return your items. Mobile Checkout will not allow items to be checked out to another person if the items are already checked out to you.

Q: Is there anything I can’t check out with the Mobile Checkout app?

A: You can check out any of our borrow-able items with Mobile Checkout. If you check out a videogame, you will need to stop by a self-checkout station to unlock it, or ask our friendly staff at the checkout stations for assistance.

Q: I have items on hold that are ready. Can I use the Mobile Checkout app on those?

A: There’s no avoiding the checkout lines to pick up reserve items, sorry. When we fully reopen and you have access to the holds area again, it will be possible to check out items that are on hold for you.

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Poetic


In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some of our librarians’ favorite poetry collections!



The Romantic Dogs – Roberto Bolanos
Bone – Ysra Daley-Ward
Crush – Richard Siken
Splay Anthem – Nathaniel Mackey
Madness – Sam Sax



A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost


Poetry Favorites from the Children’s Room:
Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons written and illustrated by Jon Muth
Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, photographs by Joel Sartore and words by Kwame Alexander
Digger Dozer Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse
A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Novels in Verse from the Children’s Room:
Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli

Poetry Favorite from the Adult Collection:
Strange Borderlands: Poems by Ben Berman



I don’t read very much poetry, but I still have The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath which I’ve had since I was probably just a teenager. Over the years the poems that are my favorites have changed, but I still enjoy that collection quite a bit.

More recently, I bought a copy of Dolefully, a Rampart Stands by Paige Ackerson-Kiely because I had checked it out of the library and enjoyed it so much I wanted to have my own copy.



Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
In Full Velvet by Jenny Johnson
There Should Be Flowers by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters by by Sam Sax
Daughter by Janice Lee


Share you favorite poetry books in the comments below!

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Red Letter Poem #53

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.” And right now, if you’re like me, you’re recalling the smell of movie popcorn and reciting the lines along with the Terrence Mann character from A Field of Dreams. “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” Here, just in time for Opening Day at Fenway Park and stadiums across the country, is a poem to celebrate baseball’s return, marking the true beginning of spring. Even in this age of sports magnification and acceleration – designed to appeal to generations raised on video-game-extravaganza – baseball, that most American of pastimes, somehow endures in its quietude.

And Gail Mazur’s piece – which appears in her recent collection Land’s End: New and Selected Poems (The University of Chicago Press) – isn’t just about baseball; it moves with the same deliberate pace, carefully considers each signal call and infield shift as the scene evolves. Both possess a tremendous depth of thought hidden beneath the surface – all before the ball even leaves the pitcher’s hand. In baseball – and unlike most other sports today – emotion too tends to be subdued, only occasionally bursting into view with breathtaking surprise. Gail’s poem keeps its heart veiled, but we receive brief and tantalizing glimpses: there’s the “Easter egg” allusion to the cherished John Updike essay, “Hub Fans Bid the Kid Adieu”, about Ted Williams’ final game. And though it’s surely a Red Sox home game, the Boston team is never mentioned – even as the name of the dreaded opponent appears twice. I wasn’t surprised by the bitter outburst from the old woman in the stands, wishing utter destruction upon the Yankee player. But contrast that with the tenderly-observed boy in the Yankees cap sleeping against his father. Baseball – and poetry – become occasions where our long-standing traditions provide us with the means for checking the score and examining how our lives have changed.

Poet and educator, Gail Mazur is the author of seven poetry collections, finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of numerous fellowships and honors. But in my mind, at the top of that list must be her role as the creator of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, still going strong since 1973; for half a century, it’s been the spiritual hub of our poetry community. Any long practice that’s built upon deep attention, by its nature, reflects the heart – both that of the maker and spectator. That famous movie speech concludes: baseball “reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” True for both baseball and poetry. Play ball!

Red Letter Poem #53: 

Red Letter 53 FINAL

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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OverDrive’s COVID Response Collections

OverDrive’s COVID Response Collections are helping libraries meet the unprecedented demand for digital books in their communities. This growing collection supplements our library’s catalog with unlimited simultaneous use ebooks and audiobooks.

What does this mean for you?
The adult fiction & nonfiction collection features more than 150* no-cost, simultaneous access ebooks and audiobook titles. You’ll have access to this titles through December 31, 2021. View titles here!

The Kids & Teens bundle features more than 100 ebooks, audiobooks, and Read-Alongs. The bundle has been added to our collection with availability through August 2021.

For audiobooks available NOW, click here!
For ebooks available NOW, click here!

The selected books are available for you at anytime, no holds or waiting periods needed!

Want to learn how to use Libby? We’ve got eGuides just for you!
You can also visit Libby’s Help page!

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Red Letter Poem #52

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

“Americans had put on blindfolds when they should have put on masks.” The bitter quip comes from Nicholas A. Christakis’ recent book Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live. We are one year into a new reality, brought about by the collision between the power of the micro-world of viruses and the macro-dangers presented by our poor understanding of global interdependence.

A little over fifty-two weeks ago, the Covid lockdown had been declared and – confined to our houses, unsure how to keep our families safe while still acquiring things like milk, bread, and toilet paper – we were all confused, and terribly fearful. It only took a week of isolation to convince me that individuals needed to actively seek out ways of supporting each other in those dark times if we were to survive together. Knowing how poems have always offered me a life preserver in stormy seas, I decided this might be a small way for Arlington’s Laureate to offer comfort to my community. So the Red Letter Project was born – a virtual version of what was originally intended to be a one-off mailing of actual red envelopes containing poems from local writers. Drawing on the wealth of poetic talent in Arlington, I began sending out a new poem each Friday – offering a brief oasis amid the week’s troubled news, echoing Frost’s notion that poetry represents “a momentary stay against confusion.” Partnering with seven arts and community organizations, each week’s installment had a potential readership in the thousands. Of course, at the time I only expected that the crisis – and thus the need for Red Letters – would last a month, two at the most. Perhaps we all shared a failure of the imagination.

Then George Floyd was killed; and protests erupted across the nation; and the economy went into meltdown; and the already-rancorous political discourse became even more toxic. So I began inviting the participation of poets from all across the Commonwealth, while broadening the subjects being addressed, moving from themes of consolation and community to include ones that would challenge, surprise, inspire. And since the poems were being re-shared and re-posted, we soon found we had readers spanning the country; I recently heard from one reader in Turkey and another in South Korea. I should never be surprised that poems manage to travel wherever they are needed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about all I’ve learned from this project in the past year: how precious to us are those everyday places and moments we previously took for granted (as in Fred Marchant’s visit to Pinckney Street, RLP #1; Susan Donnelly coming upon music in a Red Line station, #3; Polly Brown’s return to her familial Maine farmhouse in #12.) And how our worlds can be thoroughly shaken in a single instant (as Ellen Steinbaum’s was by a ‘Covid dream’, RLP #10; or Martín Espada’s after an accident suffered by his wife, #23; or Teresa Cader’s meditation on contagion while sitting in the little garden beside Arlington’s Town Hall, #29.) I marveled at the many unexpected resources that sustain us during crisis (as Adnan Adam Onart demonstrated, recalling his great-grandmother’s prayers, RLP #31; or Lloyd Schwartz, remembering the sound of rain at Moosehead Lake, #37; or Enzo Silon reflecting on the protective umbrella of community he found during his childhood, #51.) Some elegiac poems shared personal grief (Jo Pitkin remembering her father, RLP #19; Jenny Xie’s loss of homeland, #45; or Martha Collins’ loss of her spouse, #50) – but then there were poems detailing the myriad ways in which we find the strength to go on (as John Pijewski did, waking to hear bird song at dawn in RLP #17; or Christopher Jane Corkery found, sipping the waters of memory, #48; or Alice Kociemba practiced in #28, making a list of her reasons to be thankful.)

Perhaps I’m making my own list here, a roll call of gratitudes – which, I believe, is the chief lesson we can learn from this pandemic: we must not wait to lose what we love in order to know its value. I’m mindful that, for well over 500,000 families in our country, the word Covid will forever signify the loss of some beloved presence in their lives; my own extended family is included in that least exclusive of societies. And yet again and again, even they find ways to be thankful for the love that endures, often extending it with a renewed generosity. And so I am grateful for all the poets and readers who’ve become a part of this ‘community of voices’, and all the individuals and groups whose continued energies help to widen its borders. I’ve made the following two sentences a part of every RLP installment since the very first: In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters. To my mind, all poetry and art serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day. This year has only reaffirmed the truth of that declaration. May we, each day, remove our blindfolds and seek to promote a lasting healing; may we always come across the very poems we are in need of, or else go ahead and write them ourselves; and may tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow continue to bring us Red Letter days.

 

Red Letter Poem #52: 

Red Letter 52

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Red Letter Poem #51

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

It’s a paradox: every poem is an otherness.  It represents a point-of-view, personal history, approach to language, rhythmic sensibility, dance with despair and embrace of beauty – all of which are wholly distinct from that of the person reading the poem.  And yet, again and again, we find poets whose unique voices somehow resonate with our own, enlarge our boundaries, shine light into parts of our lives we may not have even realized were there.  Walt Whitman, in that revolutionary book Leaves of Grass, begins his poetic accounting of the American experience: “I celebrate myself,/ And what I assume you shall assume,/ For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”  Centuries later, that declaration, that belief in a radical commonality, still strikes me as being central in determining America’s survival, and humanity’s.

Enzo Silon Surin is certainly a son of Whitman – and the American panorama he surveys is in some respects remarkably different from that of the good gray poet, and in other ways devastatingly unchanged.  Haitian-born, he grew up in Queens, New York City and that experience is a visceral presence in his first full-length collection, When My Body Was A Clinched Fist (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), as well as a brand-new manuscript from which today’s poem is taken, making its debut as a Red Letter.  Enzo is a poet, educator, speaker, and social advocate; as the founding editor and publisher of Central Square Press here in the Boston-area, he’s created a small, independent literary press that publishes thought-provoking and high-quality poetry reflecting a commitment to social justice.  Even when race is not the explicit subject of one of Enzo’s poems, it is a context that illuminates every situation.  I too grew up in Queens; that I did not have to be so acutely aware of such things during my formative years is an essential element of the privilege I’d been afforded.  Reading a poem like “The Block…”, I can’t help thinking of all the wild, stupid, utterly normal moments of my adolescence – and how different they’d have been if suddenly the police – or even the threat of such scrutiny – had been involved.  That Enzo survived that circumstance – in large part due to the way his community embraced its members – and developed from it a creative force that would not be suppressed or co-opted, is something every lover of language can celebrate.

Red Letter Poem #51: 

Red Letter 51

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Red Letter Poem #50

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The elegy presents us with a curious amalgam: the ascendant eye anchored to the leaden heart; the privacy of grief enacted upon a public stage; an attempt to grasp the evanescent nature of memory using the matter-of-fact instruments of nouns and verbs.  And when the loss is sudden and devastating – like that suffered by the acclaimed poet Martha Collins with the death of her husband – often the easier path is a retreat into silence.  Unless, of course, that voice cannot be silenced.

It did not come as a surprise to hear Martha explain that, when she wrote this sequence of poems – eventually published as Because What Else Could I Do (Pittsburgh, 2019) – they were intended solely for herself.  After all (as the title declares), what other hope for comfort does a poet have but the ability to speak.  When friends encouraged her to share these pieces, she eventually took that risk.  Anyone who has experienced loss – anyone who believes in the regenerative force that poetry represents – will be grateful that she did.  Some of the poems in this book present the mind’s complex struggle to even confront the incomprehensible; others are so painful because they are so utterly mundane: “what will I do with my one// spoon and my wide bed”.  Martha’s book is part of a long poetic tradition of such elaborate elegiac creations; Eugenio Montale’s Xenia and Donald Hall’s Without are among the titles I most value.  Hers was eventually awarded the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.  The poem I selected (#39 – all the poems are simply designated by their number) has a simple interlocking rhythmical structure that reminds me of children’s verse, as the poet leads us into a familiar scene.  Step by step, image by image, we enter the waters of this remembered everydayness, possessing now the knowledge that everything is precious and nothing guaranteed.

I would be doing her a disservice if I left the impression that grief is the only territory that Martha has explored.  A prolific poet, translator, and editor, she has authored nine collections that tackle issues like history, race, memory, and the elliptical nature of thought.  She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, and was also the founder of the creative writing program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston

Red Letter Poem #50: 

Red Letter 50

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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I Can’t Remember The Title, But The Cover Was Blue…

Our librarians share their favorite books, movies, & TV shows with blue cover!


Books:
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Thunderstruck and Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (maybe it’s black but I’m calling it a very dark blue)
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Movies/TV:
Finding Nemo
Lost (a couple seasons have blue covers)
Ghostbusters (2016 version)
Black Panther


The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld
The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang
The City & the City by China Miéville
Submerged by Vita Ayala
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith



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