Archive | April, 2018

Films from Kanopy are now available to be borrowed by Hoboken Public Library Resident Card Holders!

18 Apr

Due to popular demand, we are now offering Kanopy for our library patrons!  Hoboken Public Library Resident Library Card Holders now have access to more than 30,000 Films from Kanopy.  Library card holders can access Kanopy and sign up to start streaming films instantly by visiting  Films can be streamed from computers, televisions, mobile devices or platforms by downloading the Kanopy app for iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast or Roku.  Sign up should be fast and easy, but if you need help setting up an account or getting an app, please let us know.

The films include award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and world cinema. With the motto of “thoughtful entertainment,” Kanopy provides films of unique social and cultural value; films that are often difficult or impossible to access elsewhere, and programming that features diversity.

You have five checkouts per month.  Below are five choices I’m planning to checkout this May that I think will appeal to my fellow book worms.


I’m looking forward to watching Neruda, directed by the award-winning filmmaker Pablo Larrain and staring Gale Garcia Bernal, who I am a huge fan of from his role on Mozart in the Jungle. Bernal stars as a policeman chasing Pablo Neruda, one of the most significant poets of the 20th century.  The film was nominated for a Golden Globe.

This Beautiful Fantastic
Beautiful Fantastic

Described as a “modern day fairy tale,” I’m curious to check out This Beautiful Fantastic. This is a story of a young aspiring children’s book author who finds unexpected friendship with a widower living next door, after she is forced to transform the garden in her apartment building’s backyard or face eviction.

Eleanor’s Secret (Kérity, la Maison des Contes)
Eleanor's Secret

Eleanor’s Secret from Academy Award-nominated director Dominique Monfery, is the animated adventure about a magical library where characters from children’s books classics are able to leave their pages and come to life. It is available in the original French or dubbed in English.

How to Publish Your Book

One thing that comes up a lot in the Hoboken Public Library’s Writer’s Groups are questions about the basics of getting a first book published.  How to Publish Your Book, part of The Great Courses provides 24 informative lectures from Jane Friedman, a publishing industry expert about everything from prepping your manuscript, reviewing contracts, and even marketing your book.

Dickinson: The Life and Work of Emily Dickinson
Photograph from

Emily Dickinson is one of the most beloved American poets; I’m curious to learn more about her life in 19th Century New England in Dickinson, a short documentary from 2014.

What films or documentaries are you planning to check out from Kanopy?  Share your recommendations in the comments!

Meet the Robots Next Door: Autonomous, The Clockwork Dynasty, Humans, and Doug Unplugged

4 Apr

More and more robots are in the news from DARPA/Boston Dynamic’s Big Dog, a futuristic pack mule, to Hiroshi Ishiguro’s AI robot, Erica, which can converse on 20 different subjects.  It makes me question what the world will be like surrounded by machines that someday may be able to not just think, but also feel.  Check out these visions of what our robotic future could hold.

by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous is the debut novel from the founder of the Science Fiction Website io9, Annalee Newitz.  Autonomous follows Jack, a Robin Hood of pharmaceutical patents who is trying to fix the catastrophic results from her latest reengineering of a productivity drug that has caused its users to stop eating, drinking and sleeping due to an all-consuming desire to work.  International Property Coalition Agent, Eliasz and his indentured robot partner Paladin are hot on Jack’s trail and unexpectedly find love in a future where robots and human uneasily coexist.  Newitz imagines a world where humans can be indentured as well as robots since the theory is if it is ethical to enslave one type of sentient being than it is justified to allow humans who cannot afford to live on their own the same “option.”  Autonomous deals with a variety of social and philosophical issues including rights to health care, gender identity, corporate responsibility, and what being autonomous means for not only robots, but humans as well.

The Clockwork Dynasty
by Daniel H. Wilson
Clockwork Dynasty

Robots are not a new concept with automatons dating back a hundred years.  In Japan’s Edo Era, the  karakuri ningyo, a type of mechanical dolls could pour tea, shoot arrows, and even paint Kanji characters.  While Newitz focuses on the robots of the future, Wilson looks back to these earlier mechanical dolls and imagines a world where robots have been secretly living with us for centuries.  The main action of The Clockwork Dynasty jumps from the current day when a brilliant grad student studies early automatons and 1725 in Russia, when the Czar Peter the Great has secretly had Peter and Elena, two avtomats, carrying out secret missions for him.  The Avtomat, as the robots, are called in The Clockwork Dynasty reminded me of the folk tales of golems since each golem was activated by a word such as truth, and each of the avtomats have a guiding principal they are programed to uphold.  The relationship between the adult bodied Peter and the child bodied Elena reminded me of the relationship of Louise and Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, where the differences in their appearance impact their experience of immortality and relationship with one another.  For those who enjoy The Clockwork Dynasty also check out Wilson’s novels Robopocalipsis and Robogenesis, as well as his humorous non-fiction, How to Survive a Robot Uprising.


I recently started catching up on episodes of Humans, which is available to stream from Hoopla.  Humans is set in the UK in the near future when robots called synths have replaced much of the workforce and act as maids, babysitters, and more.  The Hawkins family has just acquired a new synth Rita and each reacts differently to her presence with father Joe feeling it fills the void left by his wife while at work, his youngest daughter views her as a doll come to life, his wife is suspicious of her and sees her as a threat to her family safety, their older daughter is angry that her future is limited by the synths like Rita taking all her job opportunities, and their teenage son views her as an object of adolescent desire.  What none of them realize is that Rita is part of a group of synths that cannot just mimic humans, but has also gained consciousness.  The series is based on the Swedish series Real HumansHumans will appeal to fans of drama as well as science fiction.  Hoboken Resident Library Card Holders, check out the first two seasons on Hoopla before the third season debuts later this year on TV.

Doug Unplugged
by Dan Yaccarino
Doug Unplugged

The previous entries all contain violence and other adult content not appropriate for a younger audience, but of course the concept of robots is one that has long been intriguing to children.  My son is a fan of them so was delighted with another title available from Hoopla, Doug Unplugged.  Dan Yaccarino’s Doug Unplugged is a charming picture book which features bold colors and retro-futuristic illustrations.  Doug’s parents leave him plugged in to learn all about the city where he lives, but he discovers when he unplugs himself and explores on his own that nothing beats experiencing something for oneself; this is an important lesson for our screen addicted times.  You can either check out the print version available at our pop up branch or check out a Hoopla version which animates some of the drawings and features a read along to the narration to assist your emerging reader.  Also available in print and from Hoopla is Doug Unplugs on the Farm.

Want more robots?  Check out my previous posts discussing Isaac Assimov’s I, Robot and Charles Stross’s Neptune’s Brood.
Written By Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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