Brand New Books: September Edition

New books in fall are almost as numerous as autumn leaves! Here are just a few you might be interested in this month…

Cover images of Surrender New York, Bookshop on the Corner, The Fortunes, The Wonder

Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr
Criminal psychologist Trajan Jones and his partner Mike Li, a DNA expert, are called in when a number local kids turn up dead. This “high-stakes thriller featuring…clever, determined outcasts” is a “compulsive read” (Booklist). Carr is the author of The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, among others.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
When Nina is downsized from her library, she decides to open a book shop of her own. Like Little Beach Street Bakery, Colgan’s newest novel features “a heroine who strikes out on her own, a picturesque setting, and charming small-town dalliances. Most of all, though, this cheering tale celebrates the many ways books bring people together” (Booklist).

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies
The new novel by the author of The Welsh Girl tells a sweeping story of Chinese-Americans by focusing on four characters, three of whom are based on real historical people. In four sections – Gold, Silver, Jade, and Pearl – Davies “charts the conflicted, complicated journey of being a minority American through multiple generations” (Booklist).

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Donoghue is a master of close suspense (Room) and historical fiction (Slammerkin, Frog Music), and she combines the two here. “Inspired by the true cases of nearly 50 ‘Fasting Girls’ who lived throughout the British Isles, western Europe, and North America between the 16th and 20th centuries and became renowned for living without food for long periods of time” (Publishers Weekly), The Wonder is the story of Irish eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell and English nurse Lib Wright, who is to watch over her to see if her story is true. But as Anna weakens, Lib’s task becomes more complicated.

Cover images of Leave Me, Closed Casket, Commonwealth, A Gentleman in Moscow

Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Author of popular teen novels (If I Stay, Just One Day, etc.) Gayle Forman makes her first foray into adult fiction with Leave Me. Overworked parents – especially mothers working the “second shift” – may identify uncomfortably closely with Maribeth Klein, a mother of twin four-year-olds who suffers a minor heart attack and still doesn’t get the help she needs from her family. So Maribeth does the unthinkable: she leaves, finding a place where she can rest. Physical healing segues into an emotional quest as Maribeth begins to search for her birth mother; perhaps knowing about her past will help her reconnect with her family in the present.

Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah was chosen by Agatha Christie’s estate to resurrect Christie’s beloved detective, Hercule Poirot. The Monogram Murders (2014) is now followed by Closed Casket, in which children’s author Lady Playford announces she is disinheriting her children and leaving her fortune to her secretary. She has invited Hercule Poirot and Scotland Yard detective Edward Catchpool to be present when she makes her announcement, but their presence doesn’t stop a murder that night. Now they must solve it – and everyone has motive. Satisfying suspense for fans of Christie, Hannah, and Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Patchett is beloved by her many readers, and Commonwealth does not disappoint. There are elements of Patchett’s own life in the novel, a story of two families who become linked when Beverly Keating and Bert Cousins leave their spouses for each other after meeting at the Keatings’ youngest daughter’s christening party. The story spans fifty years and is told through several different family members’ points of view as the parents grow old and the children grow up. Read an interview with the author in BookPage.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The author of the marvelous Rules of Civility returns with a new novel about an aristocrat under house arrest in the Metropol in 1922. Two of our librarians have already read it and loved it; see what they have to say in this episode of Ms.shelved.

See what librarians across the country recommend this month with September LibraryReads. What will you read this month?


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Get Out & Vote!

Election day is rapidly approaching!  Are you registered to vote?  If not, check out this great video that breaks down how to get registered in Massachusetts (there are videos for all 50 states, so you can share the YouTube channel with anyone you know in another state that needs help getting registered!) or check out this flowchart we created to walk you through the process!  (All of the links on the flowchart are clickable!)


Many of your registration related questions can also be answered on the Massachusetts Election Division’s website and at the Arlington Elections & Voting website.

Some important dates to remember:
The last day to register for the 2016 election is Wednesday October  19th.
Arlington Early voting starts on Monday October 24th.
The last day to submit an absentee ballot application is Monday November 7th at noon.
Election day is Tuesday November 8th.

You might also be wondering where you can find information about the candidates & questions that will be showing up on your ballots.

For local questions, you can find the official Massachusetts Information for Voters that details the ballot questions here.  (You can also find it in large print, Spanish, Chinese, and audio formats!)

You can visit Vote411 to get voting information on all the candidates that you’re able to vote for.  There’s also PolitiFact, a Pullitzer Prize winning fact checking site, where you can see how truthful the candidates’ statements are.

Additionally, there are a plethora of local & national news sources available for you to read up on the candidates & questions on your ballot.  It’s important to remember to evaluate your sources of information, especially when it’s something you’ve found online. Nobody wants to be one of those people that takes what’s written by a satirical website seriously.   Here are some tips and tricks for evaluating websites, created by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for academic purposes, that you can apply when looking for election information online.

School Library Journal has also put together a list of resources to help parents talk to their kids about the election & our country’s political system.

Go forth, be informed, & exercise your right to vote!

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NSYA Book Group Meets Wed. Oct 5

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group will meet next Wednesday October 5 at 7pm in the 4th floor conference room. We’ll be discussing Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Copies of our next book, Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson should be here by then for you to pick up. We don’t have any books chosen beyond that, so at Wednesday’s meeting we’ll also be voting on our next few books. This is a meeting you won’t want to miss!

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Banned Books Week infographic

ALA Banned Books Week logo

Banned Books Week is September 25-October 1

Sometimes why books are banned or challenged is just as interesting as which books are banned or challenged. Check out this infographic of the “24 Most Controversial Books of All Time,” compiled from data from the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom and other sources.

Top Reasons Books Are Challenged and Other ObjectionsClick on the image to see the whole infographic from Electric Literature

Have you read any of these books? Do any of these reasons surprise you? Share in the comments, and remember to visit the Banned Books Week display at the Robbins Library and add to the “Books Change Lives/Books Save Lives” jar.

Banned Books Week display table with poster, fake flames, ALA statement, and Books Change Lives jar

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Banned Books Week 2016: International issues

Read Banned Books Week posts from previous years

As we celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, we should recognize that censorship is an ongoing international issue. Whether it’s outright censorship, “soft” censorship, or the “chilling effects” as a result of fear of censorship, there are many obstacles to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom to read around the world. Here are a few stories:

  • A British Muslim woman was detained by airline staff when they saw her reading the book Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. Story from The Guardian, August 4, 2016.
  • The Turkish government shut down 29 publishers in reaction to a failed coup in the country. Leaders of publishing houses around the world condemned the action. Story from The Bookseller, August 18, 2016
  • Chinese censorship: “While new technology is making it easier than ever to connect with others around the world, it’s also making governments more effective in keeping sensitive information within their borders.” Story from The Daily Dot, August 20, 2016

Here in the U.S. there is no state-sponsored censorship, but books are often “challenged,” especially in school libraries or in the children’s or teen sections of public libraries. A book might be moved from the children’s or teen area of the library to the adult section, removed from a school library, or removed from a school’s required reading list.

Cover of This One Summer with Caldecott and POne example comes from the Henning School District in Minnesota, which removed the graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki in May of this year. This One Summer earned a Caldecott Honor for illustration in 2015, but was deemed “vulgar” by the school’s superintendent and removed from the K-12 library shelves. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports that a month after the book was removed, it returned to library shelves in a section for older readers, but even students in grades 10-12 need signed parental permission to read it.

This type of case is more common than you may think, and, according to a PEN America report, “a persistent pattern of attempts to remove certain books from public schools and libraries, combined with a lack of diversity in Children’s and Young Adult (CYA) book publishing, narrows the range of stories and perspectives available to U.S. students.”

All readers should have the opportunity to read widely. As one graduate of a Texas public school put it in The New Yorker, (“What Kind of Town Bans Books?” October 1, 2014), “I read whatever I wanted. Books were there, and they had taught me to value difference.” No matter your age or what country you live in, the freedom to read is paramount.


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QBG/Social does TED Talks

qbgtedQueer TED Talks are coming your way!  Join us this Wednesay 9/28 at 7PM in the Robbins Library 4th floor Conference Room for thought provoking talks, good conversation, & great company!   New members always welcome!

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Girls Who Code – Open House 9/28

Girls-Who-Code-Facebook-LogoRobbins Library is launching a Girls Who Code club this fall and will be hosting a Girls Who Code Open House and lottery on Wednesday, September 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Robbins Library Community Room. The program will run on Wednesdays, except for vacation weeks, from October 19 through June 14 from 3:30-5:30 p.m in the Community Room.

Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Area girls in grades 6-12 and their guardians are invited to attend this open house to learn more about the club and to be entered into a lottery to receive one of the 24 available spaces. Attendance at the open house is mandatory for lottery participation. The first part of the evening will go over club specifics and introduce the volunteer instructors. The second part of the evening will be a lottery for the 24 available spaces in the club.

Girls Who Code is a group for girls who want to learn coding skills, meet others with similar interests, and discover how these skills can lead to a job in the tech industry. The program is run by three instructors who will help answer questions students may have and help guide them through the curriculum, which is provided free of charge by the organization Girls Who Code. Students will work at their own pace on a project, and prior experience is not required.

Click here to register for the Open House. Registering for the Open House does not enter you into the lottery. We just want an estimate of how many people might show up for the Open House.

To learn more about the Girls Who Code organization, please visit their website.

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Next NSYA Book Group

We had a great discussion about Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes last week. Thank you to everyone who came!

feverOur next meeting is actually pretty soon, on October 5 at 7pm. This time of year our meeting schedule gets a little wonky because of holidays, so be sure to check the book group page. We’ll be discussing Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, a historical novel set in Philadelphia during an epidemic of yellow fever. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious and adventurous and has grand plans for her life. But when everyone around her begins falling gravely ill, she must put her plans aside and simply survive.

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group has read this author before, but it was a very different kind of book. Back in the spring of 2013 we read Wintergirls, a contemporary novel about eating disorders. It will be interesting to see how this historical novel compares!

As always, copies are available at the front desk at Robbins, and newcomers are encouraged to come.

At this meeting we’ll also be voting on upcoming books, as we only have one more chosen after this one. If you have suggestions, please share them in the comments!

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Last day for Arlington Book Festival applications!

arlington book fest_final_color_croppedmoreWriters, it’s deadline time! Applications are due today, Sept 19 for the the 2016 Arlington Book Festival. Arlington Book Festival will be held on Saturday November 5, 2016 at Robbins Library.

Local authors can apply online or in the library.

The number of applications we receive and the areas of interest and expertise among our applicants will help determine the festival format, and preference will be given to Arlington-based authors.

Last day to submit an application is Monday September 19, 2016. Late applications will not be accepted. Applicants will be notified by Friday September 30.

Questions? Please contact Maura Deedy at 781-316-3202 or


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Banned Books Week 2016: Spotlight on Diversity

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read

Defend the First Amendment Read A Banned Book

This year, the focus of Banned Books Week is on diversity.


“It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities, according to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. This year’s Banned Books Week will celebrate literature written by diverse writers that has been banned or challenged, as well as explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out in the first place.”

What does “diverse” mean in this context? Author Malinda Lo defines it as:

“non-white main and/or secondary characters; LGBT main and/or secondary characters; disabled main and/or secondary characters; issues about race or racism; LGBT issues; issues about religion, which encompass in this situation the Holocaust and terrorism; issues about disability and/or mental illness; non-Western settings, in which the West is North America and Europe.”

Indeed, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015 reflect many kinds of diversity. Click on any of the links below to read more about each book in the library catalog, and request any you’re interested in.

I READ BANNED BOOKS white text inside red circle

Have you read one of these, or another frequently challenged title? Come tell us about it at the reference desk and get an “I READ BANNED BOOKS” button (while supplies last).

Banned Books Week posts from previous years

Next: “Banned Books” is a bit of a misnomer, since books aren’t banned in this country as often as they are “challenged” (for example, moved from the children’s or teen area of the library to the adult section, or removed from a school’s required reading list). Internationally, however, censorship remains an issue. We’ll collect a few related stories from around the world – a reminder of the importance of the freedom to read.

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