National Novel Writing Month 2016: Ready, set, write

Attention, writers! November – a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo – is upon us! (We warned you this would happen. Winter is coming, and all that.)


@ Robbins Library

30 Days. 50,000 words. Ready, set, write.

Come Write In dates and times

You can learn all about NaNoWriMo (and sign up for free) at There, you can connect with other writers (WriMos), get inspiration from past participants and published authors, and join forums.

More of an in-person sort of person? The library has got you covered! We invite you to “come write in” (we just love that wordplay) throughout the month to work on your novel and meet other WriMos. Write Ins are in the Community Room on Tuesday evenings from 6-9pm and in the Conference Room on Saturdays from 10am-1pm (except for the first Saturday, which is the Arlington Book Festival, which you should totally come to also).

Bring your writing tools (brain, pencil and paper, laptop, invisible ink, Quick Quotes Quill, etc.) and use our tables and chairs, power outlets, wifi, and many many books and databases. 50,000 words in 30 days may be crazy, but we believe you can do it!

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The Books Change Lives Jar

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

First day of Banned Books Week. Note the empty jar…

Books change lives jar full of people's comment slips

By the time the display came down, the jar was stuffed to the brim with the names of authors and book titles that readers found meaningful.

Here is a list of the contents of this year’s Books Change Lives jar from the Banned Books Week display, in the order in which I unfolded the pieces of paper. Duplicates are not an accident; they mean more than one person entered that book or author. See the word cloud below for a different presentation of the jar’s contents!

These Books Changed Our Lives

Peter Rabbit, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Slaughterhouse-5, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, I Stand Here Ironing (short story), The Maze Runner, Bud Not Buddy, The Secret Life of Bees, My Side of the Mountain, Harry Potter, Exodus, The Book Thief, Tuck Everlasting, Dork Diaries, Moby-Dick, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, The Prince of Tides (“great celebration of family – crazies and all!”), The Good Dog, Year of the Bomb, If the Buddha Dated, The Fault in Our Stars, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Dork Diaries, Gone, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Tintin, Smurfs, Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, Gone With the Wind, The Fountainhead, Percy Jackson, The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, etc.) by C.S. Lewis, The Female Eunuch, Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence (edited by Pam McAllister), The Dumbest Idea Ever!, Wonderstruck, Sky Raiders, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm, Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, Catcher in the Rye, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz, Mountains Beyond Mountains, The Tall Book of Make Believe, Collected Poems by Dylan Thomas, Little Women (“fierce strong loving Jo gives inspiration to all!”), The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, Tattoos on the Heart: the Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle, Gang Leader for a Day: a Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh, The Alexandria Quartet by Laurence Durrell, Cradle to Cradle, Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Night Before Easter, 1984, The Land of Stories, Rescue Bots, Where the Wild Things Are, Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks, Percy Jackson, The Plague by Albert Camus (“it sent me to jail during Vietnam”), To Kill A Mockingbird, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bad Girls Don’t Die, Fight Club, The Bible, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The Boys in the Boat, Mutts, Freckle Juice, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Bones, Holes by Louis Sachar, Harry Potter, Hardy Boys, Pride & Prejudice, Famous Five, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Drama, Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald Jampolsky, What Is The What by Dave Eggers, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, The Holy Bible, The Catcher in the Rye, Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, Harry Potters (1-7 and The Cursed Child), To Kill A Mockingbird, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Winnie the Pooh (accompanied by a drawing of a bear and a honey jar), Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes, The Prophecies of Nostradamus, The Mysterious Benedict Society, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, Stone Butch Blues, Harry Potter, This Boy’s Life, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Test by William Sleator, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland (“I became religious from being an atheist”), Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Life on the Other Side by Sylvia Browne

These Authors Changed Our Lives

These important and prolific authors were mentioned separately from any of their particular books: Arthur C. Clarke, Pat Conroy, John Irving, Rick Riordan, Chris Colfer, Judy Blume

Word cloud of the above text

A word cloud of the titles and authors above. Where would we be without Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Judy Blume? (Created using

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Next NSYA Book Group

Thank you to everyone who came to the library last night to talk about Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson and vote on upcoming books.

symphonyThe Not-So-Young Adult Book Group’s next meeting will be on November 16 at 7pm in the 4th floor conference room and we’ll be discussing Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

“In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.”

Copies are available now at the front desk.

We also voted on a whole bunch of upcoming books. Future meeting dates and book titles will be posted on the book group page soon!

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October is AIFF Month! Join us for a screening on October 20th of LOST IN THE BEWILDERNESS. This film will be screen in the Community Room at Robbins Library.  The following week the festival kicks off at the Capital Theater. Check out the schedule and more

Alexandra Anthony, Director | Watertown, MA | 2014 | Doc

A feature-length documentary about the filmmaker’s cousin Lucas, who was kidnapped at age five from his native Greece, and found on the eve of his sixteenth birthday in the U.S. This story of international parental abduction, filmed over the course of twenty-five years, chronicles Lucas’s journey of growth and self-discovery, and culminates with Lucas becoming a father himself. It is not only a detective story but also a lyrical meditation on childhood, lost and found, and an exploration of how the themes of ancient Greek myth and tragedy, with the family at their center, are still very much alive in the modern world. Director Alexandra Anthony will be in attendance.

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Things That Go Bump In The Night

This month we talk all about books & other media that truly frighten us!

laurenIn general, I am not one who enjoys being scared; however, these two books came with such phenomenal recommendations that I had no choice but to get thoroughly freaked out.  My first pick is Libba Bray’s The Diviners.  This story involves a series of murders and a supernatural presence in New York City during the roaring twenties.  If you really want to push yourself over the edge, definitely listen to the audio book.  You will hear the eerie call of “Naughty John” for days…

My second pick is The Nest by Kenneth Oppel.  Oppel is a masterful storyteller and this shorter tale packs a serious punch as dreams and reality overlap into one psychological thriller.  If you are afraid of wasps, this book is not for you.

JennyTwo books that kept me up late reading in high school were The Shining by Stephen King and The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.  I remember very little about The Shining (though I was disappointed in the movie – I didn’t think it was nearly as scary as the book, Jack Nicholson notwithstanding), but the Ebola virus as described in The Hot Zone, and the speed with which it spread, turned out to be somewhat prescient. The most frightening fiction is often based in truth…

RobIt by Stephen King is the book that stands out for me as the most scary.  I had vivid nightmares every single night for the week it took me to read it.  I remember staying up extra late that last night because I wanted to be done with both the book & the bad dreams that accompanied it.  I also remember being incredibly scared of the movie when I accidentally saw a part of it on TV as a child.  Thanks for scaring my pants off Mr. King!

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a Gamecube game that also sticks in my mind for being incredibly scary.  (We don’t own a copy in the Minuteman Network, but you can try requesting a copy through interlibrary loan!)  You play the game as Alexandra Roivas, a woman investigating the recent murder of her grandfather.  While exploring his creepy Rhode Island mansion, she finds a book bound in skin & bone that allows her to relive the lives of the book’s former owners.  As the game progresses it’s unclear whether she is losing her mind or being drawn into a Lovecraftian power struggle between ancient entities.  If that’s not scary enough, the game attempts to mimic the experience of Alexandra’s dwindling connection to reality for the player with a sanity meter that, if not kept full, unleashes mind-warping events that randomly trigger throughout the game.  When you enter a room, you may find your character walking on the ceiling.  The screen sometimes skews and voices whisper in the background.  Statues’ heads turn to follow your character as they walk through the hallways.  The game creates what appear to be technical malfunctions or makes it look like your TV is turning the volume down, all to make the player question their own sanity.  This game is best played at night, in the dark, with few or no other people around.

AimeeUnwind by Neal Shusterman has the scariest moment in a book EVER. I read it years ago and it still haunts me. The book itself isn’t conventionally scary, there is just one part that is truly disturbing.

For movies, Rosemary’s Baby is what sticks in my mind the most. The ending of that movie is horrifying. A more recent film I thought was terrifying was The Babadook. It is a great horror movie for fans of books because a picture book plays a major roll.

LindaThe most terrifying movie I’ve seen is The Ring and the original Japanese version, Ringu, is equally as scary. I grew up reading Stephen King and I remember finding Pet Sematary especially creepy. My favorite recent scary book is Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, which is like a nightmare version of Little House on the Prairie. She has a new book out this fall called The Women in the Walls, which I’m really looking forward to reading!

willowGoing with a classic here, but I am still frightened by some of the stories in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.  They are slightly less scary in the new edition, with different illustrations, but I like the old ones better, even if I won’t read them in the dark.

For movies, anything with well-done ghosts.  If they get that flicker effect, and popping in at the edge of sight, I can’t sleep that night.

annaSeveral movies have scared me, including Requiem for a Dream (I very much wish I had never seen this), two movies by Lars von Trier: Dancer in the Dark, which features Bjork and is deeply, deeply upsetting, and The Idiots, which was just beyond disturbing (a group of people pretending to have intellectual disabilities?!) – speaking of Lars Von Trier, if you want to really scare yourself, watch his TV series The Kingdom – bizarre things happening in a hospital ward.  Just the cover image is terrifying.
The Hiding Place – My dad took me to see this in the theater and I was way too young for it! It tells the true story of a Dutch family hiding a Jewish family during the Nazi invasion of Holland. All I remember is being horrified, and my dad whispering in my ear “it’s just ketchup! It’s just a movie, they use ketchup!” during a scene when someone’s hand is cut off by a Nazi soldier. Because of our Dutch ancestry, it was important to my parents that we learned about the Dutch Resistance during World War II. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know about the Nazis or the holocaust before I walked into the theater. On the other hand, the role of the Dutch during the war is seared into my memory, so that worked out well. The movie is based on the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
The Serpent and the Rainbow – This is a scary movie about Haitian vodou!  I was too young when I saw this! Why did my parents let us take it home from the movie store? (Sorry millennials: a “movie store” was a small store with empty VHS boxes displayed along the walls. You walked around looking at the boxes, eventually talked your brothers out of getting Airwolf AGAIN, chose something better, and brought it up to a counter to rent it.)  Anyway, this movie terrified me! Turns out it was directed by Wes Craven, and based on a non-fiction book by a Harvard ethnobotanist‘s experiences in Haiti. Although it scared me, I was fascinated; it was probably my first exposure to a non-Eurocentric culture with its own rituals and belief systems. It was definitely my first encounter with the shamans, dark magic, hallucinogens, and zombies. I bet the book is great!

What the scariest thing you’ve read or watched?  Let us know in the comments!

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Girls Who Code

gwcopenhouseinstaDo you know a girl in grades 6-12 who is interested in coding? Then we have a club for her! The Robbins Library will be hosting a Girls Who Code Club that will run Wednesdays, except for vacation weeks, from October 19 throughJune 14 from 3:30-5:30 p.m in the Community Room.

What is a Girls Who Code Club?
A GWC Club is a group where girls learn coding skills, meet girls with similar interests, and discover how these skills can get them a job in the tech industry.

The curriculum is provided free of charge by the organization Girls Who Code. Each session the girls will work at their own pace on projects based on each of their individual levels of knowledge and experience. There will be three instructors to help answer questions, and a support system of 23 other girls to encourage each other along the way. Some sessions may include guest speakers of women in the tech industry sharing their experiences.

Click here for more information about the Girls Who Code organization and to find other clubs in the area.

How many spaces are available?
We have purchased enough Chromebooks for 12 girls to use during this program, but we will open the club up to 12 more girls who are able to provide their own laptop.

Can I use my tablet?
I know many people have tablets, but the program you will be using to learn coding will not work on them.

How do I join?
After our Open House, we still have spaces available. Fill out our online form here to sign up for the lottery. We will contact girls who have gotten into the club between Wednesday, October 12 and Thursday, October 13. Forms will be accepted before 9 am on Wednesday, October 12. Please read the entire form and fill it out accurately.

What if I have more questions about the club?
Call us at 781-316-3233 and we will be happy to answer them!

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October 2016 is Fine Free Month!

Do you have a stack of library books at home or october-is-1in the car? Have you been worrying about the fines on those items?

Worry no more! October 2016 is Fine Free Month at Robbins and Fox Libraries. Please bring those overdue materials back, and as a thank you any overdue fines will be waived. This applies to materials that may be a week overdue to a two months or more.  This includes any items item checked out from the library: books, audio books, music CDs, magazines, DVDs, large print, anything! 

If you account has fines on it, simply present your library card or ID and any old fines will be deleted.

There are some exceptions. Fees for lost books or DVD rental charges will not be waived.

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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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