Monday, August 27, 2018

Girls Who Code!

That's right! Girls Who Code is BACK for it's third year running! There will be an Open House on October 4th for interested girls. Girls Who Code and the Robbins Library define 'girl' as anyone who would take that identity for themselves so if you call yourself a girl, you are welcome here! The Open House includes a lottery drawing for club participation so attendance is mandatory for those who want to join the club. Please contact Katy if you have circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from attending.

Can't wait to see you there!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Back to School? More like Back to the Robbins for FUN TIMES!

At the Fox
Sept 6 @ 3pm: Vine Watching Party
Sept 21 @ 3pm: Middle School Movie

Teen Space!
Sept 28 @ 3pm: Food Friday

And don't forget to sign up for the Writing Workshop for Teens!

See the Event Calendar for more details!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Needle is Disappointed by At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun Hutchinson

At the Edge of the Universe
by Shaun Hutchinson

“Don't get so focused on where you're going that you forget the people you're traveling with. There's no point reaching a destination if you arrive alone.”

WARNING: This book is often pretty dark and discusses sensitive topics including rape, self-harm, drug use, child abuse, homophobia, racism, and violence.

After having read and fallen in love with one of Hutchinson’s other books, At the Edge of the Universe was one of the titles that I was most eagerly looking forward to reading. Unfortunately, while I certainly enjoyed the book, it didn’t quite live up to my (admittedly perhaps unfairly high) expectations.
Ozzie and Tommy had been elementary school friends then boyfriends since middle school and relied on each other for everything. Then one day, it’s as if Tommy had never existed. None of Ozzie’s classmates remember Tommy having ever gone to their school and even Tommy’s own mother’s history has been altered so that Tommy was never born. As the days go by, Ozzie realizes that Tommy’s erasure was just the first step in an ongoing shrinkage of the universe and that only he remembers the way things used to be.
The book is about Ozzie’s search for Tommy, and even more so about his relationships with the others around him. It’s dark and gritty, and readers should definitely not expect an easy, adventure-filled sci-fi experience. While the premise seems really cool, here’s where I start to have a few complaints. As a non-white member of the LGBT community, I wholeheartedly agree that it is important to have diverse representation in books. However, it sometimes rubs me the wrong way if it seems the author is trying too hard. Ozzie himself is a white, gay male, Tommy is half black, Ozzie’s best friend Lua is genderfluid and alternates between she/her and he/him pronouns, a character is presumably bisexual, and late in the book a Chinese-American character is revealed to be asexual. Maybe it’s just me, but while I appreciate Hutchinson’s attempt to include diverse and less mainstream identities, it felt a little forced.
My biggest complaint, however, is the similarity between this book and We Are the Ants, Hutchinson’s other augmented-reality/sci-fi novel. When reading At the Edge, I was at times reminded of the beautiful, existentialist poetry that I loved so much in Ants, but the similarity of the plot and feel dulled the vibrancy of these moments for me. The messages in At the Edge also seemed just a little more heavy-handed than in Ants, leaving me with an overall feeling that I had just read a slightly worse, slightly clumsier, less original version of We are the Ants.
So, if you like sci-fi or realistic fiction or a little of both, and if you can only read one of the two books, I would definitely recommend We Are the Ants over At the Edge of the Universe, but I overall recommend both. Also, if you liked E. Lockhart's We Were Liars, I think you’d probably enjoy At the Edge for reasons that I cannot say without spoiling both books.

Are you interested in reviewing for the Robbins Library? Check out our How to Volunteer Page!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Steven Universe! Meet the New Teen Librarian!!

The new teen librarian, Katy (who uses they/them pronouns), will be at the Steven Universe program coming up on Tuesday! Come meet them and sing along to the best show ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Needle Recommends 'The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons' by Sam Keane

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery by Sam Keane

“Above all, we know that there’s a physical basis for every psychological attribute we have: if just the right spot gets damaged, we can lose just about anything in our mental repertoire, no matter how sacred.”

In my last review of a nonfiction book, I wrote that I rarely read nonfiction. Recently, however, books like this one have helped reduce the internal stigma I held toward nonfiction reading. I started this book for school, but only needed to read the 3 chapters for the assignment. Originally, I read the three required chapters then cast the book aside and moved on to other assignments, but I found myself wanting to finish it on my own time.
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons is an examination of the human brain and the connections between the physical aspects of our bodies (lobes, neurons, muscles, etc.) and the less tangible aspects of our existence like our thoughts, personalities, and our free will (if it exists at all...). Keane uses many different historical cases and patients to explore the various ways that the brain can be damaged and/or changed, be it through disease or injury. Some of the cases he talks about are pretty well known, like Phineas Gage, who is often called the father of modern neuroscience ever since a massive pointy rod went through his head and he exhibited no obvious symptoms -- he didn’t even lose consciousness -- except mysterious changes in personality visible only to those closest to him. Many of the people he talks about, though, are fascinating examples of how intricate and mysterious the brain really is.

Keane’s writing is compelling and colorful, which really helped me stay engaged. His voice shines through in almost every page, and there is an extensive appendix offering extra information and funny additions to the text at the end. Although there is a lot of sciencey speech, he makes most of it familiar enough that normal people can follow along and have at least a pretty good idea of what he’s talking about. I really liked how the book was based around historical anecdotes and personal stories, because it helped me get into the book in the same way I would with a work of fiction. I recommend The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons to anyone interested in learning or thinking about how we, as humans, think and behave, as well as fans of more niche characters in history. This book is probably best for fans of science since there is quite a bit of scientific language and concepts, but even if you don’t like science this book will probably still interest you with its quirky and mysterious stories.

Are you interested in reviewing for the Robbins Library? Check out our How to Volunteer Page!