Call me sappy, excessively-sentimental, or whatever, but this year has gone by in a flash. I've been busy in a mostly good kind of way the whole year it seems like, but I've been able to enjoy some things that I really loved in the meantime. I like making these types of lists and remembering things I enjoyed during the hustle that almost act as signposts when looking back. In the next week or so, I hope to share my personal goals for the coming year as well as consider my reading in 2016, so keep an eye out for that. For now, though, I want to share the books, films, podcasts, and music that stood out to me this year.
This should come as a surprise to no one with how much I raved about this book both here and in my real life, but my favorite book I read this year, without a doubt, is Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. This book struck a chord with me and everything about it was my favorite. I honestly could not think of a book premise more up my street. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. In one of my few posts of substance in 2016, I reviewed/went on about Surprised by Oxford here.
I put two other books down as favorites, and not incidentally, they are rather representative of the majority of the nonfiction I read this year. The first is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, one of the largest books I read this year, er, listened to, as I spent the summer listening to this one on audiobook while mowing the yard (#goals, obviously). It was fantastic, and the inspiration for another favorite thing this year, Hamilton: The Musical, by the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda. While I read the book first, the music quickly followed. While biographies about the Founding Fathers are rarely described as riveting reading material, this one was fantastic and utterly readable.
Finally, in the book department, I also read and loved Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre, maven of all secret agent-y, sabotage-related WWII to Cold War history. I loved this book for all of its colorful characters and the author's unmistakable voice. As these two suggest, most of what I read and loved this year was historical nonfiction set around the Revolutionary War and WWII. Not mad about it.
I'm going to speed this whole thing up, or we'll be here awhile. If you couldn't tell from my last post/rave, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was my favorite movie of the year (counting only movies released in 2016). In reality, I didn't go and see too many movies, or even watch many new movies – at least not movies meant for audiences above the age of 10. Lots of re-watching Lord of the Rings, mostly. I detailed all my ramble-y thoughts on the new Star Wars film in a previous post, so I won't go into it again. I won't admit it didn't have flaws, but I loved it despite them.
This year has truly been the year of podcasts for me, and I have discovered a few that have become firm favorites. I've spoken about Overdue here before, but that remains one of my most-listened-to podcasts, as well as the one I laugh the hardest at. Their backlog of episodes is a gold mine, people. Also, a firm favorite, The New York Times Book Review podcast has been something I look forward to every Friday afternoon for a couple years now, and I thoroughly enjoy it. There's something about it that makes me feel sophisticated, and I appreciate the variety of books they discuss on there. And finally, my favorite podcast discovery of the year has to be Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. This podcast is literally a guy sitting down and talking about history for HOURS. Like, every episode is 3-4 hours long. I freaked out when I discovered it. My favorite series so far is called Blueprint for Armageddon, and it is all about World War I. It is absolutely fantastic, and deeply moving/inspiring/awesome. I don't care if you don't like history. It's the bomb.
Finally, the music album/artist that defined my year the most has to be All Sons & Daughters and their newest album, Poets & Saints. As a music artist, their music has touched me in all kinds of ways and so many songs, both on this record and earlier ones have put words to feelings and events this year. They are incredible. If there is one song that has moved me or left the biggest impression this year, it would be Even Unto Death by Audrey Assad. It is just the greatest, and I want it to be my anthem forever.
And that wraps up this year and the books, films, podcasts, and music I loved the most. Hopefully you found some new favorites, and I'll hopefully be churning out a few more posts before school starts up again (hold me!).