This space is reserved for OFPL staff members to share suggestions for reading, viewing, or listening. Kasey in Circulation recommends some helpful and timely reads and an album that you might decide is your next favorite listen.  

As 2020 at last bears down on us in a frigid January, I would like to offer a few recommendations to start off the brand new decade.

First, I want to talk about a book about linguistics-BUT WAIT DON’T GO. Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch is as much a book about 21st century mindsets and the adaptations we make to use current technology as it is a book about linguistics. Because Internet offers a deep dive into why we write the way we do on the internet, in emails, and in text messages, in case you ever thought you were the only one who worried about those kinds of things.

All through history, both formal and informal forms of writing have existed. Formal writing, in the forms of essays, novels, journalistic endeavors, and informal writing existing in a more limited capacity, mostly in private letters. Technology in the 21st century, however, has exploded the common usage of informal writing, as now, more than at any time in history, we use writing as a means to communicate nearly constantly. McCulloch’s book gets into the nitty-gritty of some of our most vexing habits. Why do we agonize over word choices in work emails and personal text messages? How do emojis and gifs help convey emotion? Would using three exclamation marks in a row sound too excessive? The studies may surprise you.

The next book I want to recommend is a book I relate to much more personally. As a person with a somewhat anxious mind, I am generally suspicious of self-help books, many of which claim to help calm anxious minds (How convenient!) But simply hearing the title of this book piqued my interest; First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sara Wilson. 

So many books written about anxiety frame themselves as helping to COPE WITH, to FIGHT, to TAME the wilder parts of our psyches. From the title alone, one can tell that Wilson’s book is an animal of entirely different stripes. Part personal memoir, part history of the concept of anxiety, part advice, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is about learning to accept the more high-strung parts of one’s nature as pieces of our whole and developing strategies for living with that reality.. As the book begins, we’re thrown right into it with Wilson, as she nervously gets an opportunity to speak with none other than the Dalai Lama. When she impulsively asks him the simple question of, “How do I get my mind to shut up?”, his answer sets her on the path she spends the rest of the book following.

And finally, something completely different. Back in 2013, a song called “Take Me to Church” by Hozier made a surprise splash on the Pop music charts, playing on radios from coast to coast despite its bleak tone and earthy lyrics. Quite honestly… I never cared much for that song. HOWEVER, in 2019 Hozier came back and released his second album, Wasteland, Baby!, and I wholeheartedly recommend it in its entirety. From the soaring opening track “Nina Cried Power,” to the uplifting “To Noise Making,” to the dark “Dinners and Diatribes,” Wasteland, Baby! is the perfect accompanying soundtrack to a New Year, whatever you’re reading (especially if it’s the book about linguistics, which I swear, I promise, is far less dry than a person might imagine a book about linguistics to be. I swear!).

Inspired by Kacey’s Recommendations:

“Take Me to Church” may not be Kasey’s favorite but I have a soft spot for the hit.

Hozier – This is the debut studio album from Irish musician Hozier. The album was released on 19 September 2014 through Island Records and Rubyworks Records. 

Take me to church (4:05) — Angel of small death and the codeine scene (3:40) — Jackie and Wilson (3:43) — Someone new (3:43) — To be alone (5:24) — From Eden (4:44) — In a week (featuring Karen Cowley) (5:19) — Sedated (3:28) — Work song (3:49) — Like real people do (3:20) — It will come back (album version) (4:38) — Foreigner’s God (album version) (3:45) — Cherry wine (Live) (4:00).

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