Books and Music for Winter Blues

It’s really raining an awful lot here in Sussex at the moment, so much so that the simple pleasures is starting to wane, you know like watching the rain splash on the pavement and wearing wellies and jumping in puddles, holding your nose in case that puddle turns out to be a secret lake. Or is that just me?

Anyway, I don’t know about your but I get tired of all these magazine articles about “escape the Winter Blues” full of tips to re-energeise your life like eating broccoli for breakfast, joining a gym, tedious positive thinking like staring at your tired face every morning and saying “you’re looking great, you’re a winner”, oh and jetting off to some luxurious Island for the weekend. Or wait, that last one doesn’t sound too bad but it was in the Sunday Times so is out of my price range.

So, rather than offer ways to beat the winter blues I thought it would be fun to offer a couple of new books and records that indulge in the melancholy a little bit, not too much though, but just enough for days when you unplug your phone, draw the curtains and curl up under the blankets with a couple of packs of your favourite biscuits to watch the Homeland box set with. You got the hot cocoa? Then let’s go…

Jenny Offdosill Dept. of Speculation A novel about “love, parenthood, infidelity, and a crumbling marriage “ already sounds great, right? This one tackles all that in an experimental way, so you’ve got a little novel crammed of poems, notes, reflections, scribbles. There’s a nice little interview with Jenny-O over at NPR, and this one is out in a few weeks and I’ll be checking it out. My second tip is the effortlessly cool Gwendoline Riley Opposed Positions, I already mentioned this last year, but now it’s just out this month in paperback. Nobody writes opbetter about modern love gone sour better, her crisp urgent sentences will get into your heart, and you can read this one in one setting, she’s the best writer under 40 around today, dark and broody but beautiful writing.

Onto the music, my first tip for embracing the winter blues is Benji, the latest by Mark Kozelek under his sun kil moon name. This will probably end up being my record of the year, as these days all I ever do is listen to Mark Kozelek records, but anymusicway here’s a nice piece he wrote for the New York Times last week where he talks about this record, and his crazy life. The guy’s the best musician and songwriter we’ve got right now, so support him and buy this record! Finally, someone I know very little about – I think I even skipped the page about her in NME last week – is Angel Olsen who has a new album out in February, she did this haunting acoustic set over at NPR (again!) which you can watch or download. I don’t even know if I like this music, I don’t know if it’s really for me, but it did transfix me when I heard this session. She sure sings about sad things though, so be prepared!

When that’s all over and you’ve had enough of moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself, you can go and check out this cool blog by a summer camp member. It’s bright, breezy, fun, clever, much like summer camp themselves, who remain one of my favourite bands and I’m excited to hear their new record later this year. Like Promise Ring sang happiness is all the rage.


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