This column, part of the monthly Heavy Metal Librarian series, originally ran in the Get Out! section of the Green Valley News on November 14, 2023. The series is authored by Charlie Touseull, Tween/Teen Librarian at Sahuarita Library.
Christmas is just around the corner and the end of the year is neigh. Time for last-minute gift buying, creating New Year’s resolutions, and reflecting upon the past year. It’s a comforting tradition steeped in nostalgia, and ever more enjoyable when time can be spent with family and friends, indulging in good memories while making new ones.
The end of the year also marks a time when I like to make best-of lists when it comes to books and music. This year was an exceptional one for both. I read a lot of thought-provoking books and, while it was a hard decision to come to, my pick for best non-fiction title of the year must be The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History by Ned Blackhawk. When it comes to picking the best album of the year, well, I just could not pick one album that was my favorite. Being that hardcore and doom are my two favorite genres in heavy music, I picked one from each of those prolific scenes for my best picks this year. It was a difficult decision to make, but I have to say that my favorite hardcore album of the year was Living Proof by Drain, and my top pick for doom was Beyond Vision by Acid King. Indulging in the constant evolution of art and scholarship are things that drive my passion for librarianship, a love for the world of music, and fueling an understanding and love for my community.
The holidays are also a time to indulge in the comforts of traditions. In doing this we wear silly sweaters, decorate Christmas trees, eat delicious traditional treats. and sing songs that remind us of good times, of family both here and gone, and celebrate the passage of time. It’s a fun way to end the year, celebrate our accomplishments, and prepare for the challenges of the New Year to come.
Every holiday season I listen to albums in my collection that remind me of my grandparents. My grandma Marjorie always played the Charlie Brown Christmas album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and my tata Danny always enjoyed Frank Sinatra singing all the holiday classics. When I play these records, it’s a reminder of the good times that we all shared and magically connects us through time.
The nostalgia of times past mixed with the sentimentality of objects is the perfect combination for those who like to collect things. I can look through my bookcase and reminisce about where I obtained almost all of my stuff, what bookstore items were procured from, and where they were read. However, this type of obsession is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing when revisiting a beloved novel that was read a few times years ago, and a curse when space gets limited, and I am forced to purge things. Those choices are never easy to make. Maybe that is the time to re-gift books? Is that acceptable? Personally, I wouldn’t mind, I am not sure what columnists like Ask Amy would have to say about it though.
Annually, I always seem to do all of my gift-buying late, seemingly forgetting the self-imposed stress of shopping at the last minute, but simultaneously finding joy in that hurried chaos. In my opinion buying or receiving the gift of books and music is always a good thing for special occasions. It is nice way to reciprocate joy through art and learn something new about the culture that surrounds us.
If you are still in need of gifts be sure to buy from local small businesses as often as you can. All of the sales made from the Friends of the Pima County Public Library bookstore go to directly help out the library system. They have multiple shops in the Green Valley area and one big facility in Tucson. They always have lots of fantastic items for sale. For those things that you need to buy new, personally, I love to get my new books from Antigone Books, and my music from Wooden Tooth Records. Shopping locally is always a benefit to your community and a way to support those people who are passionate about the things you care for.
So as 2023 comes to an end, make a list of what makes you happy, what you intend to be better at in the year to come, and make sure to share the joy of books and music with family and friends. Life changes fast, as do the times and trends that fuel those evolutions in our tastes and desires. And, not to worry, books and access to information at your local library will always be free. I’ll see you at the library.
Seasons greetings everyone!