Year End Favorites

Year-end lists are fashionable among my writerly friends. So, I thought in my free moments, I would add my own small voice to the fray. Here are my top five in two categories:

Music

1. Advent song: Amanda Palmer's version of The Angel Gabriel

I'm not a fan of Amanda Palmer. Don't get me wrong; it's not that I actively dislike her, I just don't know much of her music. From what I have listened to though, she's less of a singer and more of an artist. Her voice is shaky and deep, which works for a certain style but not usually for choral hymns. However, her version of The Angel Gabriel is haunting and hypnotic and reminiscent of the chanting of medieval monks.

I do find Palmer interesting. Her TEDtalk was inspiring and her art is weird and, like this hymn, fascinating. Plus, her husband, Neil Gaiman has written some of my favorite books. The pair of them are equally weird and wonderful.

2. Worship music: All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons and Daughters

I used to loathe most worship music played on the radio. And truthfully, I still find most of it too saccharin and unchallenging to be worth my time. But I discovered All Sons and Daughters while working on leading a worship service with a friend.

3. Alternative: Shovels and Rope: The Devil's All Around

I heard this unusual married duo on an NPR interview. It's just the two of them, pounding on drums and a guitar about as hard as they pound out their voices.

4. Throwback Country: Randy Travis' Deeper than the Holler

My husband and I were listening to a Pandora station recently and discovered our mutual love of 90s country music: Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Martina McBride, and Deana Carter. These folks sang the soundtrack of our high school days. And how can you resist listening to this classic love song, sung loud with your husband about how our love is "longer than the song of the whippoorwill?"

5. Folk rock: The Staves' Dead & Born & Grown

I love this entire album from a trio of English sisters. Their harmonies bring me back to singing hymns with my own two sisters.

Books (in no particular order)

1. Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

4. Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns Trilogy (see Karissa Know Sorrell's reflection on this YA fantasy with a strong heroine)

5. Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys Quartet (though only three are out so far)

6. Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries beginning with Still Life

7. Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl

9. Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning to Walk in the Dark

10. Tamora Pierce's Lioness Rampant

and one to grow on...

11. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell