Happy new year! This post has nothing to do with the new year, but I hope these album recommendations will help start your year off on the right foot!
These albums are either sending shivers down my spine every time I listen to them (because when you go indoors to escape the cold outside, what else would you rather do than shiver there too?) or otherwise being put on my playlist on repeat:
Ólafur Arnalds. Just. Ólafur Arnalds. More specifically, these two are my faves from our collection:
Island Songs by Ólafur Arnalds (streaming on hoopladigital only)
Re:member by Ólafur Arnalds is also amazing, but Island Songs is what originally got me into Arnalds and really listening. Literally sent shivers down my spine as I listened, as well as making me very emotional at times throughout the album. (Also, what a beautiful story behind the album!)
How to describe Arnalds’ music? I think he describes it this way himself in the insert to Re:member (though I don’t have the CD in front of me and can’t verify this, so take with a grain of salt), but it feels as though I’m listening to the soundtrack of a film, except there’s no film that it follows. Ambient music? Soundtrack? Instrumental, I guess. However you categorize it (if we must), it is beautiful.
See more below the cut.
The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is absolutely delightful, featuring a love triangle between a “sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a dot”, who was of course hanging out with “a wild and unkempt squiggle”. Accompany your reading with the short animated film on YouTube (and apparently also as a special feature in The Glass Bottom Boat DVD, of which we own 3 copies, so feel free to check that out).
The overall structure of the plot arc is quite predictable, but that’s not where the charm of this wonderful romance lies. Part of it, I’m sure, is just in the fact that it was written in the 60s, so some of the phrasing is a touch quaint reading it now, but I want to say that the charm of it is simply in the fact that this is a mathematical romance. It’s dedicated to Euclid! There are math puns & references everywhere (though some of them smarter than others), and the entire novel(la) is overall a delightful romp. And as some of you know, despite math not being anywhere near my forte, I have a love of it all the same. You don’t really learn anything about shapes or math in any way apart from how to creatively apply lines and shapes, but that’s why it’s a romance in lower mathematics, right?*
Does it ever feel like there’s a constant pressure on to be happy and to only ever experience positive emotions? (Nevermind the fact that we divide up the emotions between positive & negative, thereby already biasing them to be thought of as either good or bad for you.)
Well here are some picture books that talk about (negative) emotions and acknowledge them as being part and parcel of being human (… strictly speaking, animal, since when they feature, the humans involved are not the ones experiencing the negative emotions). Some of them discuss how it’s perfectly OK to be experiencing these ups and downs, whereas others highlight what emotions such as fear and jealousy (or in this particular case, the selfish personality of the giraffe) hold you back from the possibility of experiencing things you could never have previously imagined.
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang, is great at portraying how sometimes our grumpiness can seem completely illogical: there’s nothing to be grumpy about, but you know what? We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed some days, and that’s alright! Having your friends there to be there for you, even if what they’re doing isn’t cheering you up per se, can be a boon to your emotional state. Grumpy Monkey yells at his friends, denying his grumpiness, but it’s when he actually accepts that yes, he just might be grumpy, and yes, his friends do still love & care for him, that he starts to feel a bit better.