Another year is almost over, but not before recounting some of the best things I listened to and read this year.
Favorite Albums of 2016
Why albums and not songs? I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been more into albums than singles. I enjoy a full collection of songs from artists. Some things need not be questioned. Here are five of my favorites from this year in no particular order of importance.
Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
Chance’s album is sure to be featured in many “best-of” lists this year. For me it was both a celebration of the magic of life and a lament for a world that is so obviously less than it should be. But David Dark sums this all up much better than I could, so just read him.
Blanco – David Bazan
David Bazan is a national treasure. We’re lucky to be alive while he’s here.
Real Emotion – Paper Route
This album is personal. Not just the writing, but because I’ve known 2/3 of this band for nearly half my life and shared some formative years trying to figure out how to make music that mattered together. For me, this album was an artistic triumph.
Choose Your Weapon – Hiatus Kaiyote
The whole vibe of this album is otherworldly. Such groove.
Spotify Sessions – Rayland Baxter
Something about this album stuck with me this year. The guitar playing, Americana, singer/songwriter vibe, laced with feelings of longing, nostalgia, and regret may just be my love language. And Rayland and his talented band deliver the goods on this live album.
- Black in America Again – Common
- 22, A Million – Bon Iver
- You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen
- Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Band
- Emily’s D+Evolution – Esperanza Spalding
Favorite Books of 2016
I keep finding that I end years without reading as many books as I would like. Even so, here are my favorites I read this year.
Hillbilly Elegy – J. D. Vance
Stating that this was one of the best books of the year borders on cliché, but here we are. Vance’s story touches on themes that I could easily identify in my own life and the life of my childhood friends.
Becoming Wise – Krista Tippett
If you’re not familiar with Krista’s podcast, On Being, then I suggest you remedy that situation quickly.
Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious – David Dark
Some will read the title and hope for a winsome attempt to evangelize the virtues of religion in an increasingly secular society. Others will read the title as yet another patronizing attempt at false equivalency by those who can’t come to grips with modern rationality. David Dark will have none of it. His suggestion that we pay close attention to what we pay attention to is one worth taking seriously.
View From Flyover Country – Sarah Kendzior
I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s writing since I first encountered it via a project I worked on at WashU. Seriously, follow everything she does and find ways to give her your money so she can do more of it.
Jayber Crow – Wendell Berry
This old book was recommended to me by my friends in Paper Route (see above). Could not recommend more.
Fin. Until the next year
Know of something that should have been on this list but wasn’t? I’m always happy to get suggestions.