5 Favorite Albums and Books

These are albums and books that I came across this year. Many of them are not new, just new to me.

1. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire:

This is such a richly textured mix of instruments, musical ideas, and thoughtful lyrics.

2. High Violet by The National:

I love the combination of the deep resonant vocals and complex music. The mood of the lyrics and music fit so perfectly.

3. Lungs by Florence and the Machine:

I don’t know how to classify this. It is definitely accessible and pop, but she has such an interesting and powerful voice. The music is like White Stripes though a little more subtle and complex.

4. The Enchantment by Chick Corea and Bela Fleck:

Awesome jazz in many styles on with banjo and piano. So simple yet so multifaceted.

5. There is No Enemy by Built to Spill:

I was introduced to this band by my 19 year old son. I was immediately taken by the sound that has obvious grunge roots but with an original mature madness. I went to a live show with my son and came away even more impressed.

Books

1.The Border Trilogy, Blood Meridian, and No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy:

His masterful use of language makes reading him worthwhile even though he is heavy handed with violence and the often grim and overtly masculine light that he casts over his subject is at times oppressive. He is great at having his characters tell stories.

2. The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare:

A very dense and involving meditation and investigation of whales and whaling from both a literary and historical perspectives. Challenging, for not so intellectual me, but well worth the struggle.

3.Housekeeping and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson:

Both fascinating and dense first person character studies as if you are living in another persons life. I can’t wait to read her most recent novel “Home.”

4. Middlemarch and Silas Marner by George Eliot:

Written in the mid 1800’s, these novels, especially Middlemarch, treat their subjects with such honesty and unsentimental compassion. She left me with a feeling of hope for humanity in spite of the petty prejudices and short sightedness of people in general.

5.The Reefs of Earth and The Devil is Dead by R. A. Lafferty:

Wonderfully written non-sense and tall tales about aliens among us from the late nineteen sixties. I read the Devil is Dead when I was a teenager and enjoyed as much or more this time around. I had to go to used book stores to get these. He is a truly mad practitioner storytelling through the use of dark humor and bright lively language.

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