Your Best of 2014

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76 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I’d have to think about the three favorites question for a while, but the answer to the Pete question is undoubtedly “Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Bloating of Five Subplots.”

  2. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Books:

    As usual, I read almost nothing new, but here goes:

    Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin — this is now one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a romantic, apocalyptic, stunningly-written fairy tale about New York City, justice, and bridge-building(?). Trust me. Read it. But avoid the movie at all cost. It has almost nothing to do with the book and is a blight.

    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote — I didn’t expect to enjoy this one at all, but I was completely gobsmacked by how much I loved it. Capote manages to humanize his villains and allows me to empathize with them without excusing them. Remarkable.

    The Warden and the Wolf King by My Little Brother — I had the pleasure of editing and producing this book earlier this year, but that scarcely compared to the pleasure of getting to read it. It’s a tremendous feat of writing and storytelling to have brought so many threads to a satisfying yet complex and meaningful close. I’m super-proud of Andrew’s work.

    Music:

    When I Was Younger by Colony House — I can’t remember when I’ve loved a new band this much. I worked in the next room while they recorded this album, so I was privy to a lot of pieces and snippets, but I didn’t hear the whole work until the album was released. I fell in love with it immediately. Can’t wait to hear what’s coming next from these guys.

    Somewhere Under Wonderland by the Counting Crows — The Crows last album album was bad—really bad—so I approached this newest one with great trepidation, fearing a musical giant may have fallen at last. But thank goodness, they’ve still got it. The CD went into the player and didn’t come out until I knew every word to every song on it. As a bonus, I finally got to see them live for the first time this year, and it was worth the wait. Fantastic show, maybe one of my favorite live shows ever (along with Springsteen and U2).

    Death in Reverse by Jeremy Casella — Jeremy’s always been a great songwriter and singer, but when he Kickstarted this new record and said it was inspired by N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope my ears perked up. The result is a beautiful and powerful album that you’ve got to listen to over and over again to really appreciate. Great stuff. Jeremy will be playing at house show at North Wind Manor in January. Don’t miss it.

    Movies:

    There were a ton of disappointing movies this year, but then there were a few that lived up to their promise and gave me everything I hoped they would.

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — Good grief. I couldn’t believe how much I loved this movie. I didn’t think there was any way it would reach the high bar set by its predecessor. I was wrong. Someone please give Andy Serkis an Oscar nomination. Part of what I love so much about this film is that it’s almost entirely visual storytelling—which is what movies are supposed to be. This one does it very well.

    X-men: Days of Future Past — Again, I didn’t think there was much chance this would live up to my expectations. Again, I was pleasantly wrong. It exceeded them. It’s well written, well acted, well paced, and it even dealt well with time travel. Remarkably, there were two good time travel movies this year, Edge of Tomorrow being the other. Interstellar, will you please go stand in the corner and think about the errors of your ways?

    Into the Woods — I love movies and I love musicals. If only I was able to love the two together more often. “Les Miserables” was a travesty of epic proportions, but thankfully, Into the Woods redeems the promise of Broadway on the silver screen. It’s clever, funny, insightful, complex, beautiful, and completely enjoyable from beginning to end.

  3. Chris Yokel

    Okay, I’ll break the ice here.

    Books:
    Picking three is hard, because I read a lot of great books. But if I had to choose,
    Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith
    Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

    Music:
    Son gs of Innocence by U2
    Fading West by Switchfoot
    Tie between Rivers in the Wilderness by Needtobreathe/Borderland by John Mark McMillan

    Movies:
    Grand Budapest Hotel
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    Third is a toss-up between Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie, Interstellar, and How To Train Your Dragon 2
    (Pete Peterson will probably be shocked at what’s not on this list)

  4. Jake Nuckolls

    Books!
    1. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
    2. The Warden and the Wolf King – (your very own) Andrew Peterson
    3. Flora and Ulysses – Kate DiCamillo

    Movies! (I see lots?)
    1….Ocean’s Eleven
    2….Sherlock Holmes
    3….Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Music!
    1. Lowland Hum – Four Sisters E.P.
    2. Phox – Phox
    3. Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
    Honorable Mention – Colony House, Alt-J, Saintseneca

    Pete’s regretful admission into the film canon? Good Golly… Non-Stop?

  5. John Barber

    Books:
    This was the year of not reading for me. After reading 200+ books last year (don’t ask), I didn’t read much that wasn’t a textbook this year. That said, a quick top three (only one of which came out this year):

    1) The Warden and the Wolf King – an epic conclusion to perhaps my favorite fantasy series (yes, I’m talking to you, JRR). It doesn’t always happen that the end is as satisfying as you hope it will be, but TWatWK came through. I cried like a baby.

    2) Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace – this one came at the very end of the year and surprised me. You know that saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” I absolutely bought this book from McKays because of the author and the cover art. I actually stood there in the store and went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to spend two dollars on it. It’s a magical tale about appearances and love and the devil (you can practically see Tom Waits playing Mr. Sebastian in the movie version). All of your expectations get subverted. It’s a tale about a magician told from the perspectives of his sideshow compatriots. It’s an exercise in divining the truth from multiple perspectives. Best two dollars I’ve ever spent.

    3) My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok – Janna and I gave each other two reading assignments over the summer. This was one of the ones she gave me. This book is somehow perfect. Like, it should be in the Louvre or something. Every word is right.

    Music:
    1) Somewhere Under Wonderland by Counting Crows – I love this record. I love every word on it. I love every syllable on it. I love every guitar riff and every inscrutable metaphor. No question this is my number one for the year.

    2) Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs – this record hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d never even heard it until last week, and I can’t stop listening. Imagine putting Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and the Byrds in a blender. I’m always, always, always a lyrics first guy, but the musicianship on this album may be turning me to the dark side. It’s gorgeous.

    3) Golaith by Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil – A concert memory that I expect will endure for me: standing in the back of Cannery Ballroom with Pete Peterson when Steve Taylor and the fellas took the stage. I thought Pete’s head was going to explode. Seeing the living legend perform for the first time can change a man. Throw in three other musicians at the absolute top of their game, and it’s a miracle of a show. I waited (literally) decades for this album and it absolutely delivers. It’s brilliant and silly and nonsensical. Buy this thing.

    Movies:
    I almost just did two here, because my top two absolutely dwarfed everything else for me. But what the heck – I’ll throw in a third for good measure.

    1) Boyhood – Since Linklater’s masterpiece came out so early in the year, I’m afraid people will forget about it, come award season. But this story, shot over 12 years, manages to capture the small things that make up a life. The scope of this film allows us to see the deeps and the shallows of the lives of these four people, and although it’s called Boyhood, it could just as easily be called Motherhood, Fatherhood, Sisterhood, or FAMILY. As a father with children in the midst of various stages of this journey, I saw myself and I saw my kids all throughout the film. This is a movie that Film Study classes will be talking about for a century.

    2) Calvary – Gosh. Talk about not knowing what you’re walking into. This is a movie that makes you want to scream at the Kirk Camerons of the world that THIS IS WHAT CHRISTIAN STORYTELLING LOOKS LIKE. First rule: just tell good stories. This amazing story of sacrifice that takes place in a small village over one tense week will change the way you think about forgiveness. It stays with you for days. I really hope Gleeson wins something for this, because he’s brilliant.

    3) The Hobbit (KIDDING, I DIDN’T EVEN SEE IT)

    3) Guardians of the Galaxy – Who would’ve know that the best superhero movie ever made (that doesn’t include Heath Ledger) wouldn’t have a single household superhero name in it? This was the most fun I’ve had in a theater since, well… ever. I hate that awards don’t recognize this kind of film, because it deserves a ton of them.

    (special recognition also goes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – it was pretty spectacular)

  6. Aden S

    Gosh, I’ve got to try and be “original.” And please forgive me, Mr. Peterson, WatWK and After All These Years aren’t listed below because they deserve a category all their own due to their “supreme awesomeness.”

    Books:
    Douglas Bond, “Grace Works”
    -This book is just amazing. His first major, non fictional foray and it was such an encouragement to read!

    J.R.R. Tolkien, “Beowulf”
    -Ok, geek alert! But this compilation of his lectures, notes, and work on Beowulf was brilliant. I loved every line of ancient poetry. And, since I’m a sucker for hardbacks, it’s cover was ridiculously minimal and elegant.

    Michael Horton, “or.di.nar.y”
    -A convicting read. Struggling with being restless where God has me, this book and posts by a certain Mrs. Yokel, have been a huge challenge, and blessing, for me to be content where I am placed. Sadly, I need to get my mitts on Heidi Johnston’s new book too!

    Music:
    Lou Fellingham, “Fascinate”
    -Lovely, well crafted album from across the pond. It was such a blessing to listen to the character of God being described in Lou’s words. Check her out, all solid stuff!

    Sovereign Grace Music, “Prepare Him Room”
    -An amazing album of new and old advent songs alike. Though, I would hasten to add that most of the songs are certainly written for the second advent, such as “Joy to the World.”

    Miscellaneous, since I can’t narrow an equally awesome third down
    -Songs of Innocence and soundtracks from the following films, etc.

    Movies:
    Big Hero 6
    -Gospel was peaking through in the most unexpected and wonderful of places. It was a joy to soak in the beautiful animation and voice acting! And am I the only person who loves Fall Out Boys’ “Immortals?” In short, though. Blew. Frozen. Out. Of. Water. Period.

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    -Ingenious, intricate, and insane. Loved this movie to bits. The only thing I hated were all the teased names, points, and images that are for future films in the MCU. Dang!

    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    -Judge me if thou shalt. But, I thought this was an amazing conclusion to a beautiful rendition of The Hobbit as a cinematic trilogy. Jackson couldn’t have done any better! To be honest, I thought this trilogy as a whole was way too short… Then that would make the length of TLotR films woefully inadequate to the proportion of the book’s size. 😀

    Ok, can SHERLOCK also get a place of honour even though it isn’t a movie?! Series 3 was fantastic to say the least.

  7. Matthew Benefiel

    Books:
    1. Ale Boy’s Feast by Jeffery Overstreet – Late to this party but I was blown away by this last book and how it tied all the threads together. Amazing story, life just won’t be the same.
    2. Warden and the Wolf King – Enough said, the book was crazy and I cried twice.
    3. C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (yep late to that one too)

    Movies:
    1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Didn’t want to see it, first teaser still is dumb, but the movie was fantastic
    2. Lego Movie – long time Lego fan and this movie made me happy
    3. Edge of Tomorrow – I really enjoyed Cap’n America but this one surprised me how well they thought it out

    Honorable Mention: Star Wars Revisited Empire Strikes Back – Okay it didn’t release this year sadly, but I’m still waiting for it because the guys editing it are amazing, “A New Hope Revisited” was well done and removed all the un-needed “additions” George insisted on putting in.

    Music:
    1. Nickel Creek’s A Dotted Line – My younger brother had to convince me that they got back together and made an album and I’m glad he did.
    2. Sleeping At Last’s Atlas – Technically it started last year but ran into this year. Great music once again from Ryan
    3. Andy Osenga’s EP’s – Enjoying the vibes here
    4. My Love Has Gone Across the Sea by Skye and Andrew – Amazing song from a Kickstarter perk, I seriously hope Andrew has more hidden away because now I’m thinking the Saga needs a soundtrack.

    Honorable Mention – Weird Al – this guy just keeps coming up with stuff and while I don’t have much of a link to pop music anymore and hence don’t get all the songs, Weird Al is still my hero. Long live UHF.

  8. Nathan Bubna

    Printed Word:
    1) Brandon Sanderson’s books, especially The Way of Kings (but i want to list all of his for the wit, wisdom and fantastic world-building. not sure why it took me so long to check him out)
    2) The Skeletons in God’s Closet – i haven’t enjoyed a theological work this much since Surprised By Hope. I highly recommend it.
    3) Warden and the Wolf King – yep, i cried too. 🙂

    Moving Pictures:
    1) Parks and Recreation – finally started watching this show that admittedly starts weak but turns amazing by season three.
    2) Guardians of the Galaxy – same reasons as everyone else
    3) Raising Hope – absurd and off-beat without ever becoming cynical and negative. i love the Chance family. if i’d stopped at the end of season 3, it’d have been number one. season 4 (as far as i’ve gotten thus far) hasn’t been up to par.

    Audible Vibrations:
    1) Fading West – after a few good, but not amazing albums, Switchfoot is back in top form with one of their best yet.
    2) Slugs and Bugs Sing The Bible – i don’t just love this as a parent of three small humans. i actually choose to listen to it on my own too. Randall Goodgame knocked it out of the park.

  9. S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Books:

    A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens. This little-known volume came to my attention this year. Magnificent. I’m still #TeamAustin over #TeamDickens, but this was wonderful.

    Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull. Really fascinating insights into leadership, storytelling, collaboration, and some fun history of Pixar as well.

    Whatever Aubrey/Maturing books I read this year and whatever PG Wodehouse books I read as well. They are always great and always worth reading.

    Now I’m thinking of so many others. Man. Ain’t nobody got time for this.

    Music:

    Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible, was that this year? Anyway, totally amazing and we listen all the time.

    Joel Clarkson’s If I Rise on the Wings of the Dawn. Instrumental, piano music. Wonderful. Relaxing.

    The Milk Carton Kids-Prologue. I listen to this a lot this year. And previous years.

    Tons more. Dangit.

    Movies:

    X-Men: Days of Future Past. Really terrific.

    Dawn of the Apes. Shakespearean. Incredible.

    The Queen of Versailles. Insightful. Sad.

    Honorable mention: The Fireplace on Netflix, which is like a movie version of Facebook for warmth and humanity.

  10. Andy DeBruhl

    Books:

    The Goldfinch – Was extremely reluctant as it did not sound interesting at all, but this may have had one of the most satisfying endings I have read in awhile

    The Wilderking Trilogy – picked up the set at Hutchmoot and what great fun this story was.

    The Church and the Surprisng Offense of God’s Love – was absolutely humbled and floored at how Jonathan Leeman unpacks church membership and discipline.

    Movies:

    Interstellar – I am a Nolan fanboy and this movie was operatic in every sense of the word. The score, the images, the ending?

    The Lego Movie – just plain fun

    Snowpiercer – this came from nowhere and is so over the top and makes no sense when you think back on it but it was such a fun ride (no pun intended)

    Music:

    When I Was Younger – Colony House – WOW! Was not expecting that.

    Mortar and Stone – Jill Phillips – gentle, humble, and encouraging songs about our need for community

    Prepare Him Room – Sovereign Grace – may be the best Christmas album I have heard in awhile

  11. Brenda Branson

    Books:
    Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. Helprin’s style of writing is incredible. I don’t think I’ve read anything so descriptive and captivating.

    The Warden and the Wolf. King by Andrew Peterson. In some series the last book goes out wit a whimper and fails to tie the story together with the previous books. But not this one. I think AP saved the best for last and wrapped it all up with hope.

    The Green Ember by S. D. Smith. I must confess that I’ve just started reading this book, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it will be one of my favorites. I’m quite fond of the author and his family, as well as the illustrator, and the Kickstarter video with such cute kids is enough to capture my heart to love this book.

    Music:

    1. Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible by Randall Goodgame
    2. Love Will Have the Final Word by Jason Gray
    3. After All These Years by Andrew Peterson

    Movies:

    I don’t get to see many movies just released in theaters, but this year I’ve seen some BBC programs/movies that were great character stories.

    1. Pride and Prejudice (all versions)
    2. Downton Abbey (Watched Season 5 already)
    3. Mr. Selfridge

  12. Matthew Benefiel

    S. D. Smith I hear you on Milk Carton Kids, I found them on Noisetrade and they are simply fantastic, make my Superlux HD668b’s shine like nothing else. I wonder if they will make the jump into mainstream or pull off a Sleeping at Last anyway. Noisetrade delivers every now and then: “It Took The Fire” by Tyler James and “My Fellow Sophisticates” by William F. Gibbs to name a few others, both different from Milk Carton Kids, but also fantastic.

  13. Erin Tegeler

    For me, this was the year of half finished books. So I regretfully have only two finished books in that category, but they would have been on the list, even if I had finished ten:

    1. The Warden and the Wolf King – AP
    2. The Green Ember – S.D. Smith
    3. The Living (half finished) – Annie Dillard

    Music:
    1. My Father’s Body – from Blood Oranges in the Snow, Over the Rhine
    2. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit
    3. Mortar and Stone – Jill Phillips

    Movies have mostly let me down this year. Pete and I were lamenting the lack of good children’s movies. Some of you better start making children’s movies stat!

  14. Todd Gwennap

    Books:
    1. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. I came to Hutchmoot with this embarrassing hole in my reading. I devoured the entire series over December. So so beautiful. Multiple instances of weeping.

    2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. A beautiful picture of the way love between two people can bless the world.

    3. Death by Living by ND Wilson. Loved the idea that life is meant to be spent. Heartwarming and discomforting at the same time.

    Music (none of it new!):
    1. “Hallelujah” covered by kd lang. I had always heard this song performed as a bawdy song about naughty behavior. kd lang’s cover showed me the deep hurt and deep longing in the song.

    2. The Goat Rodeo Sessions by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, and Chris Thile. Loved classical reinterpretations of bluegrass. My go-to study album this year.

    3. “See the Conqueror” by Jenny and Tyler. I was absolutely blown away by this rendition at Hutchmoot. I am in the process of getting our church to start singing it in worship.

    Movies:
    1. Guardians of the Galaxy. Too much fun not to be #1. I love when movies don’t take themselves too seriously.

    2. Snowpiercer. Chris Evans was phenomenal in his role as the secondary villain.

    3. Big Hero 6. Just saw it with my kids the other night. Fun, profound, moving. When my seven-year-old son cry and laugh at the same parts, then filmmakers have done something right.

  15. Jake Nuckolls

    and then everyone else says titles that I should have…..

    Slugs and Bugs (music)
    Port Chicago 50 (book)
    Xmen/Lego Movie (movies)….

    Lists are always better when you are #10 or greater.

    Loving these. Expanding my to read/listen/watch lists.

  16. Dave

    Books:

    1. A Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helprin. I read Winter’s Tale last year. While that was incredible, I connected with and enjoyed this novel much more. Helprin is the master of “whoa-that’s-too-much-description . . .wait-that’s-actually-the-most-beautiful-thing-I’ve-read-I-never-want-it-to-stop.”

    2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander. It took me months to finish this because the subject matter is so dark. It deeply challenged my preconceived political opinions. I don’t agree with all of it, but it very worthwhile. No matter what you believe socially or politically, this book is a must read.

    3. John Adams – David McCullough. McCullough’s history sings. Truman is still my favorite, but John Adams is a close second. All history should be this beautifully written and engaging.

    I didn’t listen to much music this year or watch any notable movies. As far as TV is concerned,

    1. The Wire – Not much more can be said about this show that hasn’t already been said. I can’t imagine that I’ll watch a better show in my life. If you decide to watch it, please watch at least the first 8 episodes before deciding whether or not to keep watching it. It sounds ridiculous, but trust me.
    (Warning: Graphic language and subject matter.)

    2. Parks and Rec. I finally got sucked into catching up on this show. It is consistently hilarious.

  17. Karoline

    Ok, I’m not sure I can come up with three of everything… but here goes!

    Books:
    Sadly, I have read very little this year, so the top three books are probably the only three books I read (minus huge textbooks…). 🙂 All three are excellent, wonderful books!
    1. The Warden and the Wolf King
    2. C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (fascinating! why is it not as well-known as Narnia?)
    3. C.S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy

    Movies:
    1. Guardians of the Galaxy
    2. So, I liked The Battle of the Five Armies. I walked into the theater pretending that I had never heard of a guy named Tolkien or a book called The Hobbit. Just looking at it as a movie, it wasn’t the best ever, but it was pretty good.
    3. I’m still waiting to find out what will fill this space… The Winter Soldier was really good, but maybe there’s something better that I haven’t seen yet.

    Music:
    Not sure on all three. I got a bunch of music for Christmas, so maybe I can fill the spaces in later.
    1. Ready to Fly by Jamie Grace
    2….
    3….

    I’m glad to read through everyone else’s lists — I need more good books, movies, and music to enjoy!

  18. Goodgame

    I don’t read or see movies or listen to movies half as much as I’d like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. And so, I can’t gobble up all these great recommendations without sharing any – so here’s my favorites from 2014.

    Movies
    Big Hero 6 (maybe not a perfect movie, but Baymax, you have my heart.)
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes (still haven’t seen the sequel)
    It’s a Wonderful Life (just saw it for the first time)

    Books
    Warden and Wolf King – our own AP
    The Wednesday Wars – Gary Schmidt
    Alaska – James Michener
    (honorable mention – Rabbits with Swords! The Green Ember – S.D. Smith)

    Music
    Nickel Creek’s A Dotted Line
    Jill Phillips Mortar and Stone
    Waterdeep New CD

    (and pssst… thanks for all the Sing the Bible shout-outs…)

  19. Adam Callis

    I’ve procatinated reading a lot of classics, (reading in general) so I decided to kick off my goal to read more this year with these:

    1.The Present Age-Soren Kierkegaard
    Yeah this one is weird to start out a reading goal with, but I’m just happy I actually finished it. What I received from it was very insightful, but I probably only grasped about 10% of it.

    2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe-C.S. Lewis
    Talk about procrastinating. I enjoyed this, especially after reading Kierkegaard. (I think I even enjoyed Prince Caspian a little more)

    3. The Book of the Dun Cow-Walt Wangerin Jr.
    Thanks to the rabbit room community for recommending this. I’m excited to read the next one.

    Movies:

    1. Boyhood
    2. X-men Days of Future Past

    Music:

    Dynamite by Sandra McCracken is about the only new music Ive listened to extensively. I picked it up when she played at the Local Show and it has been on repeat.

    Also, I got to see Behold The Lamb of God at the Ryman for the first time.

  20. Hannah

    Books:

    1. Home by Marilynne Robinson. I cried and cried and cried. Looking forward to Lila.
    2. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Excellent keeps-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat telling of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team’s story. Thoroughly recommend it!

    I feel like I’ve forgotten something key, even though I keep a list of what I read. Guess I’ll finish off with…

    3. View from the Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary. I don’t usually read as much biography as I did this year, but there were some good ones.

    Movies/TV:

    1. The Choristers. I think a Rabbit Roomer suggested this on Facebook.
    2. Downton Abbey. I’m about over it, but after watching various seasons and episodes multiple times, I’ve been going straight through the series with my aunt, who hadn’t seen any of it yet. Better than all the series I’ve watched at home on my own.
    3. The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug. I think this might have been one of only two movies I saw in a theater this year, though there were others I meant to see. It was good because a) Pete (or Thomas McKenzie) gave such a terrible review that my expectations were so low that I came away pleasantly surprised, and b) my sister was delayed going back home to Vienna by the Polar Vortex that hit Chicago last January. When we found out she was staying in Knoxville an extra night we went to a 10:30 showing on our own, hardly anyone else in the theater, and made a late and happy night of it. It was a one-of-a-kind good experience, the memory of Tolkien aside. I doubt either of us has ever gone to a movie that late.

    Music:

    I can’t remember discovering much of anything new this year, but here’s a quick guess at a decent answer.

    1. I discovered the Civil Wars.
    2. I’ve listened to Walking Song (Ron Block and Rebecca Reynolds) as much as any of my Sons of Korah CDs, which is saying something.
    3. I just received AP’s newest album from the Christmas gift exchange. I will be listening to it and enjoying it, I’m sure, as I drive up to Lancaster, PA tomorrow.

  21. Jason Mitchell

    I’ve already added a few more books & movies to my “guilt list” from what was mentioned above! Most of these weren’t released this year, but here goes:

    Books:
    1) Orthodoxy – I just discovered GK Chesterton with this book, which left me wondering: “How many other books this amazing have been just around the corner for my whole life?!?”
    2&3) I heard about The Book Of the Dun Cow and The Book of Sorrows from the Rabbit Room this year and devoured them. I’ve never read something so sad and yet so beautiful. I also never thought that a battle scene full of barnyard animals could make me weep. Not cry, weep.

    Music:
    1-3) I bought Beyond The Frame, Room To Breathe, and The Law of Gravity a few months ago. Most music that I like grabs me right away, but loses some of it’s power over time. Andy’s is the opposite. It takes me several listens to get it, but after that it drills deeper into my soul every time I hear it.

    Movies/Video:
    1) The Lego Movie. This is the only movie every member of my family loves, and I can’t get over how brilliant it is.
    2) Big Hero 6.
    3) I started watching Falling Skies this summer and I’m 3 seasons deep. This is the best TV show I’ve seen since (please don’t laugh!) Babylon 5.

  22. Chinwe

    Books
    Lila: What can I say? I loved Gilead so very much, and Lila is equallystunning! I just finished it and I just might reread it now, since I flew through the thing. How I have missed Rev. John Ames! I had to pause numerous times to wonder how Marilynne Robinson could find the words to express….so much. Hannah, you won’t be disappointed.
    The Third Book of the Dun Cow: Peace at the Last: An interesting conclusion to the series. Glad for it because I had to reread the other two, and remember why I love them so much.
    The Harry Potter series: Finally, I know. I definitely binge-read these. Fun stuff.

    Movies/TV/Web (Since I barely watched any movies this year…)
    30 Rock: Again, Finally! So very silly, and so very good. Didn’t think I could love Tina Fey or Alec Baldwin more. But I do 🙂
    Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Jerry Seinfeld, etc. Nuff said.
    Short Term 12: Sweet little independent movie that was on my mind for a long time afterwards.

    Music
    To Be Loved (Thad Cockrell): All I can say is, Thank You BTLOG concert for introducing me to this lovely voice!
    A Dotted Line (Nickel Creek): Nickel Creek always makes my heart happy.
    Blood Oranges in the Snow (Over The Rhine): Just gorgeous!

  23. Mark L.

    I’m mainly commenting on this thread so I can subscribe to the follow-up emails, but will take a shot at the bonus question while I’m at it. After scouring Pete’s Twitter feed, this retweet stood out: “The trailer is out for “Transformers: Age Of Extinction.” We can only hope.”

    I did enjoy the X-Men movie, Tom Cruise time travel movie and Breaking Bad (though the whole thing was kind of shady, morality wise).

    As for books, I enjoyed the Wingfeather Saga and am reading it again backward in search of hidden messages. I also enjoyed a book called “Unfinished Business”, which was about the 1990-91 Boston Celtics (spoiler – they don’t win the championship).

    I don’t have much to add in terms of music (love all the musicians affiliated with the RR), but did watch the VH1 Behind the Music “Journey” special last night and it did not disappoint. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, I don’t know where I’ll be tooommmooorrrrooooowwww.

  24. Kathy Goodpastor

    Most all of my favorites were mentioned already, but I’ll add ‘Nebraska’ to the movie list. Filmmaking at its finest.

  25. aimee

    Yippee for doing the “favorites” post 🙂

    I will tell you there is a general theme I see running through my favorite lists. It is good storytelling that incorporates honest pain and joy and how intricately they are wrapped together.

    Books:
    1)Lila and Home by Marylinne Robinson
    It took me three attempts to jump on the Gilead train. Finally someone in the Rabbit Room pointed out that the novel was never going to be an action-filled plot and more about reflection, I changed expectations and settled in. I loved the related books, Home and Lila, and and felt connected the honesty of their stories.

    2)Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt:
    Beautiful books that capture the voice of two teen boys as they encounter all the challenges of home and school life as well as Shakespeare and Audubon’s Birds.
    (Randall, read Okay for Now, if you haven’t yet.)

    3)The Warden and the Wolf King: This one carries right along with my theme mentioned above, hard things wrapped intricately with the joy.

    Music:
    1)Colony House
    2)Happy Camper (not to be confused with Happy CamperS, that “S” makes a difference). I wouldn’t say Happy Camper fits with my theme, it’s all about fun.
    3)My five year old playing “hot cross buns” on the recorder. Not available on Spotify.

    Movies:
    To be continued.

  26. Topper

    Books:
    –The Old Man and the Sea, by Hemingway
    –Beowulf, trans by Seamus Heaney
    –Hamlet, Shakespeare

    Music:
    –Counting Stars, Andrew Peterson
    –Song of Hope, the Josties
    –Eye on It, Toby Mac

    Movies:
    –Iron Will (1994)
    –Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)
    –Young Tom Edison (1940, with Mickey Rooney)
    and its sequel, Thomas Edison the Man (1940, with Spencer Tracy)

  27. Laure Hittle

    An emphatic heck yes to Babylon 5.

    Books:

    1) The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. i cannot get over this book. It is everything amazing. i almost didn’t make it to chapter two because there’s a line at the end of chapter one that caused me to float, enraptured, about a foot above my chair for several minutes. And it ends perfectly. i ran out of copies again; do you guys sell this thing by the pallet?
    2) Peace Like a River. i have never really enjoyed western-themed anything, and unlike a lot of girls i didn’t go through a horse phase, but i think i finally get the romance of it. Thank you, Rabbit Room, for making me read this. i am now working on a gunslinging poem of my own.
    3) Nudities by Giorgio Agamben. A collection of essays on bodies, humanity, and resurrection. It blew my brain open while i was contemplating dehumanization in the Wingfeather Saga.
    •Honorable Mention: The Sparrow. i can’t say i loved this book. It brutalized me. But it is exceptionally well-written. i passed it on to a friend and he called it the best book he wished he’d never read, which about sums up my feelings toward it.

    Movies:

    1) Kill Bill Vol. 1. Now that is art. Sheesh.
    2) Upstream Color. For my husband’s birthday, i bought us season passes to a sci-fi film series in Denver, and this was my favorite of the movies we watched. A beautiful film about parasites and humanity. i need to see it again.
    3) Noah. i would love to lead a discussion on this in the library. i’m already planning my funeral.
    •Honorable Mention: The Secret of Kells. Absolutely gorgeous. The director just released a new movie and i can’t wait to see it; i don’t even care what it’s about.

    Music: This is the first year in about a decade that i can say i listened to new albums, and even still most of what i discovered was not new.

    1) Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2. This is all i listened to during Lent, and i think that’s going to be a tradition. It might be the perfect album.
    2) Love and War and the Sea In Between. Josh Garrels’ voice is dead sexy. That is all.
    3) Songs of Innocence.. i’ve never listened to U2 before, and probably would never have listened to this if it hadn’t been free and Jeffrey Overstreet hadn’t posted about it nonstop for the entire day it was released. But i’m so glad i did.
    •Honorable mention: AP’s “Day By Day.” i just got the CD and haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but that one song has gotten over 2000 plays this year. It’s gotten me through hard days and crazy fears and homework and papers. Thank G-d for it, and thank you, Andrew.

  28. Scott Norris

    Books:
    Some are obvious…Warden and Wolf King
    Others were good…Stormlight #2 (Sanderson)
    And some were just refreshing…Gospel (JD Greaer)

    Movies:
    XMen and Guardians (with 3 kids under 3 we didn’t watch many others)

    Albums:
    Tripp Lee – Rise
    The Oh Hellos – Family Christmas Album (EP)
    The Rend Collective – Art of Celebration

  29. Rachel

    Thanks for the great suggestions!

    Here are a few books to add that were new to me this year:

    1. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Nicholas Carr) – made me realize the importance of purposeful, deep reading
    2. Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness (Ed Welch) – balanced Biblical guidance for anyone dealing with depression
    3. The Shadow Throne (along with the previous books in The Ascendance Trilogy)(Jennifer Nielsen) – loved the twists and turns each book had.

  30. Chrystal

    Books
    1) hands down without A doubt The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson is at the top of my list. I can’t remember when A book has moved me like this one. It has forever left its mark on me. Such a beautiful picture of the pain and beauty of life and how it’s all part of a bigger story. (And we still have book 4 left to go. We are taking our time because we don’t want it to end.)
    2) I’ve been mainly reading with my children this year and going back to classics that I missed in my own education. The Hobbit was definitely a highlight this year, I’m
    Embarrassed to admit I had never read it before.
    3) a close tie for 3rd would be Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Giver. I also read “Give them Grace” and that would be top of my list for non fiction this year.

    Music
    1) Josh Garrels – The Sea In Between
    2) Drew Holcomb – “Chasing Someday”
    3) The Whistles and the Bells – this one has to grow on you. Love the lyrics.

    Movies (I don’t really watch movies unless it’s with my kids)
    1) I really liked the Lego Movie and its message.
    2) I also really loved the sacrificial message in Big Hero 6.
    3) I also surprisingly enjoyed the Hobbit movies, even though I was totally and utterly miffed by the deviation from the book. If you look at it separately from the book and just enjoy it as its own story then you’re able to appreciate it more. 😉 (haven’t seen the last one yet)

  31. Jon Dostert

    Boy I love Rabbit Room’s year in best of post, always get some great recommendations. So here are mine:

    Books:
    Surprised By Hope by NT Wright – Finally got to this one and it is fantastic. Wright really does surprise you with much hope.
    Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel – Wonderfully written story about the end of the world. It is beautiful and sad and hopeful all at the same time.
    The First Titan by TJ Stiles – THE biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. What a interesting man during a pivotal time in our country’s history.

    Music:
    Death in Reverse by Jeremy Casella – Related to the aforementioned Surprised by Hope. Jeremy outdid himself on this one.
    Songs of Innocence by U2 – I love the stories about the beginning of the band and the guitar on Miracle of Joey Ramone
    Made in California by the Beach Boys – This may have been released in 2013 but I listened to it for most of 2014. Some fantastic unreleased cuts on this box set of the greatest American band. And wonderfully remastered, everything sounds so good.

  32. Joe Sutphin

    favorites:

    Books: (most not new books, not including Andrew’s book because its obvious)
    1. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
    2. The Yearling – Marjorie Rowlings
    3. The Martian – Andy Weir

    Music:
    1. Light for the Lost Boy – AP (new to me)
    2. When I Was Younger – Colony House
    3. Fading West – Switchfoot

    Movies:
    1. Winter Soldier
    2. Guardians of the Galaxy
    3. Lone Survivor

  33. Lisa

    Thanks to all for these great recommendations….I’ve got lots to add to my list for 2015!

    I don’t have much to add….but some of my faves this year were:

    Books
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. A lovely story about persevering in the pursuit of a dream, even if that dream doesn’t make sense to anyone but yourself. And above all, a honest look at a marriage and the downs and ups of a life-long love.

    Unbroken – I read this when it first was released, but read it again this year for my book club. Wow, what a story.

    Movies
    Noah – Laure Hittle, I’m with you. Loved this movie and I’m not ashamed to say so.

    Sherlock – there is nothing about this show that doesn’t send send me into paroxysms of delight. As a life-long Sherlock Holmes fan, I approach any new take on the stories with a mixture of delight and dread. But oh my….from the writing to the acting to the casting to, well, everything, this is perfection.

    Pretty much any BBC drama – through the magic of Netflix and the gateway of my PVR i have enjoyed Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Bletchley Circle, Endeavour, Inspector Lewis….I could go on and on.

    Music – I really fail here. I just don’t listen to a lot of new stuff, but I am excited to give a listen to many of the artists here at the Rabbit Room.

  34. Drew Zahn

    Books:
    1. Wish You Well, by David Baldacci – A departure from his usual spy-novel genre, this heart-wrenching tale of life on a Virginia mountain is touching, sweet, funny and sorrowful. I have new respect for this writer.
    2. Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott – Dialogue nearly as witty and refined (with a bite) as Jane Austen, and the author’s occasional breaking of the 4th wall and purposeful anachronisms crack me up, every time.
    3. American Assassin, by Vince Flynn – I admit, I love thrillers and spy novels. Despite “Rabbity” tendencies, I’m still just a guy at heart. This prequel to the Mitch Rapp series, his origin story, is as fun and satisfying as any good origin story should be.

    Music:
    I don’t know that I bought or explored anything new this year, but the following albums were particularly helpful in what was one of the most painful and agonizing years of my life:
    1. Rich Mullins – The Jesus Record, original recordings
    2. Andrew Peterson – Light for the Lost Boy
    I didn’t listen to anything else this year that even comes close to these two.

    Movies:
    1. Fury – Love, love, love this film. The dinner table scene and the “last communion” scene – magnificent.
    2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Cannot believe how well this was done. Sci-fi summer blockbusters are not supposed to be this good.
    3. Guardians of the Galaxy – I won’t even pretend to argue this is a well-made movie. But guilty pleasure – in the words of Rocket, “Oh, yeah.”

  35. Arthur Alligood

    Books:

    A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. The only book besides the Bible to literally bring me to my knees.

    Music:

    Blake Mills “Heigh Ho” -Intriguing songwriter and my favorite guitarist of all time.
    Phosphorescent “Muchacho” -Country twang gone weird and awesome.
    Bob Dylan “Highway 61 Revisited” -Late to the party, but thankful the party is still happening.
    Andy Gullahorn “Beyond the Frame -Sat in parking lot at Hutchmoot crying and pressing repeat. Beautiful songwriting.
    Willy Mason “Carry On” -It is criminal that most of you will go, “Willy Who?” This guy is a brilliant songwriter.

    Movies:
    Calvary.

  36. Heidi Erickson

    Books:

    Yeesh, I haven’t read nearly enough this year. So I guess I will just have to include books new to me…

    “North! Or Be Eaten” by everyone-knows-who

    “The Fiddler’s Green” by everyone-knows-who-the-elder

    “The Christian Imagination” compiled by Leland Ryken

    “100 Cupboards,” by N.D. Wilson, “Boy On the Wooden Box,” by somebody I can’t remember, and “Secret of the Lost Settlement” by John J. Horn would probably be up there too. Oh my, and “The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic.” How could I forget that. That would be quite far up. I suppose I have read more than I thought.

    Music:

    “Wonders” by ThePianoGuys

    “Belle” soundtrack by Rachel Portman (do soundtracks count?)

    “How to Train Your Dragon 2” soundtrack by John Powell

    Movies:

    (“The Passion of the Christ” for the first time. Wow, just wow.)

    “How To Train Your Dragon 2” (yep I am an HtTYD geek and proud of it)

    “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

    and “Unbroken” (but I haven’t seen that yet…so……)

    oh yes! “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” (highly anticipated and enjoyed quite much even though I *cough, cough* must admit it could might probably possible almost definitely have been better…)

    Lol and…Pete’s epic disappointment would be that same Hobbit.

    Merry late Christmas and blessed New Year to ya’ll!! 🙂

  37. Jen Rose

    @

    This was a weird year…. I didn’t read enough books, scrambled to catch up on 2014 albums at the end of the year, and watched a lot of movies in the past 6 months. (Thanks Chris.) But here we go!

    Books:

    Andi Ashworth – Real Love for Real Life: It would take a long time for me to explain why this book was so important to me in the hope/anxiety filled months before marriage. Just one of those right books at the right time that I want to revisit again soon.

    Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere: I can’t remember the last time I got so wrapped up in a story that I didn’t want it to end. So good you guys.

    The combination of C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves and Sheldon Vanauken – A Severe Mercy pre-Hutchmoot.

    Music:

    Needtobreathe – Rivers in the Wasteland: I keep coming back to this one. I babbled at length about how much I liked it here.

    Jeremy Casella – Death in Reverse: One of those perfect pop records that kind of sweeps you up… and it’s inspired by Surprised by Hope, which doubles the awesome.

    For the third I can’t choose between Switchfoot – Fading West, Coldplay – Ghost Stories (yes, I still love Coldplay), and U2 – Songs of Innocence.

    Movies:

    The Grand Budapest Hotel: This summer I got a proper introduction to Wes Anderson (along with Moonrise Kingdom) It was so quirky, charming, and strangely beautiful.

    The Lego Movie: I thought it might be dumb, but it was so hilarious and witty and then actually had a profound ending. Win!

    And it was a good year for Marvel films… Big Hero 6 was adorable, Winter Soldier was awesome, but Guardians of the Galaxy is probably my favorite just because it’s the most fun I’ve had at a superhero movie in ages. (Also, that soundtrack. And Groot.)

    Later I’ll realize I forgot something and be mad at myself. 😀

  38. Tom Murphy

    Music: (Not really ranked, just noted)

    Marry Me – Kristen Wright (feat. “Home”)
    Mortar and Stone – Jill Phillips
    Death in Reverse – Jeremy Casella

    Books:

    1) To Change the World – James Davison Hunter

    2) Madmen: A Social History of Madhouses, Mad Doctors, and Lunatics – Roy Porter
    – This sounds a little crazy, but if you have qualms with the Enlightenment as a philosophical movement, this is a must read. English Enlightenment and “boom”, “insanity” replaces “fevers” as the most

    3) William Cowper: Biography – James King

    Movies (and favorite quote from each…)

    1) Fury – “Are you a Christian?”
    2) Mockingjay – “If we burn, you burn”
    3) American Sniper (although I’ve not seen it yet) – “…time to come home…”

  39. Jen Rose

    @

    Now I’m helping Chris remember movies we saw this year and I’m thinking of a bunch of others I liked….
    – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (I still want a dragon.)
    – Interstellar (!)
    – Noah (so weird, but made me think more than just about any other movie)
    – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (teeeeeeechnically 2013, but I saw it at the beginning of 2014 :))

  40. Carrie Givens

    Ooh…good stuff in here. Mine (without too much thought), are as follows:

    Movies:
    1. The Hundred-Foot Journey
    2. Guardians of the Galaxy
    3. Interstellar

    Books (not necessarily new this year):
    1. Unbroken – Lauren Hillenbrand
    2. The Warden and the Wolf King – AP
    3. The Charlatan’s Boy – Jonathan Rogers
    (Runners up–only because I haven’t quite finished them yet, but they’re looking quite promising as contenders: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier and The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt)

    Music (also not necessarily new this year):
    1. The Atlas EPs – Sleeping at Last (If I have to pick one, then Light…or Space I)
    2. Fire and Stone – The Gray Havens (I got a pre-release copy at a show in April. So glad the rest of the world can FINALLY get this album come January 6)
    3. Mortar and Stone – Jill Phillips

  41. Zachary

    For books I have to go with
    -Warden and the Wolf King
    -Peace Like a River
    -Narrative of a Life of a Slave by Frederick Douglass.
    The last one took me by surprise. I had to read it for a class and it is powerful. It opened my eyes to just how horrible slavery was and is. What was most fascinating to me was the psychological oppression needed for the system to work. It has applications to other forms of slavery(addictions) too I think.

  42. Susan

    Books:
    1. Surprised by Hope by Wright
    2. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
    3. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
    4. The Naked Now by Ron Rohr – stretches my thinking – only on chapter 2

    Movies:
    1. Unbroken
    2. One Hundred Foot Journey

    Music
    1. Lennon and Maisy

  43. Rebecca D. Martin

    Books:
    1. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
    2. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. Delightful, funny essays about books and reading for people who love books and reading.
    3. All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot. I’ve liked his books before, but this was my favorite, maybe because it’s from a more mature time in his life, maybe it’s because it takes place around WWII. Pleasant, funny, and sometimes poignant.

    Music:
    Sarah Jarosz. (albums: Follow Me Down and Song up in Her Head.

    Movies:
    1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
    2. Chuck (TV).

  44. Stephanie

    I’d like to add to the Books Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I don’t even know if I read it this year or last year, but whenever I did, it still has a hold on me. A beautiful story about love in all its many forms.

    The one movie I watched this year that stuck with me was What Maisie Knew. It’s a total fairytale and not the best movie ever, but I was captivated by the little girl who stars in it (Onata Aprile).

  45. Hannah H.

    Just books and music for now…

    Books (all old…I have a lot of catching up to do!)
    – The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo (I read this in 2 hours, huddled under my covers from 1-3 a.m., and mulled it over through the rest of the night.)
    – The Prodigal God by Tim Keller (It’s the perfect book to remind me what is true…I would read it every day if I could.)
    – Surprised by Joy by C.S.L. (I’ll keep coming back to this one for the rest of my life.)

    Music (such good stuff!)
    – Mortar and Stone by Jill Phillips (I’ve worn out my iPod’s repeat button on “I’ll Meet You There”)
    – As Sure as the Sun by Ellie Holcomb (one of the most calming albums I’ve ever heard)
    – Songs 2 by Rich Mullins (I know it’s old, but it’s also one of the greatest compilations of music in the history of ever)

  46. Aimee Bumgarner

    Books

    1. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
    2. Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge
    (Thanks Lanier Ivester…..both #1 and #2 were read on your recommendation!)
    3. Brideshead Revisted (a reread….gets better, richer, more achingly beautiful each time)

    Music:

    1. Ancient Dreams by Red June
    2. Mortar and Stone by Jill Phillips
    3. Blood Oranges in the Snow by Over the Rhine

    Movies

    So it seems I don’t go to the movies anymore…..a shame, something to be remedied in the New Year perhaps. This was the year for binge watching Doc Martin on Netflix and trying to figure out a way to move to Cornwall.

  47. Bethany

    I read too many good books this year to be able to pick a top three, but here’s three that were amazing:

    The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
    The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Bruggeman–This was required for one of my classes, but it gave me a whole new understanding of the role of artists/poets in the church.

    Music:

    As Sure as the Sun by Ellie Holcomb
    Hope Tonight by Melanie Penn
    Death in Reverse by Jeremy Casela
    Honorable mention goes to Light for the Lost Boy–while it’s not a 2014 release, it’s far and away my most-listened-to album of the year.

    Movies (not necessarily 2014 releases, but they’re all movies I saw for the first time this year and enjoyed):

    Dead Poet’s Society
    12 Years a Slave
    Big Hero 6

  48. aimee

    We just watched “Frank” tonight.

    Art that is weird just to be weird bugs me, but I actually thought this was an original movie with some great thoughts on exploiting art, doing art because its in you and must be expressed (instead of placing popularity as the goal), and mental illness.

    And Michael Fassbender certainly plays a role that is nothing like XMEN!

    I’m also going to throw out a mini-series called Klondike, if only for Sam Shepard’s performance and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art thou).

    Laure Hittle, we loved the Secret of the Kells, too, I’ll have to check out the new movie.

  49. Matthew Benefiel

    Sorry, flooding the threads again, but I forgot to add HEM to my music, I’ve become a huge fan this year of them and Rabbitroom was responsible (thanks to Matt Conner). In that line I’ve also stumbled on Black Prairie as of yesterday (late yet again) and love it, though the latest album lacks the flair of their older stuff. Anyone who wants folk/gypsy/jazz and whoever knows what else should look them up, amazing.

  50. Scott

    Being the father of seven, it goes without saying that I don’t get to read a lot…except children’s books. So….

    Books (I know these aren’t from 2014):
    Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker – great art; cute and little guy manly at the same time.

    Penguin by Polly Dunbar – this book cracks me up with the twist near the end. My kids were shocked and then laughed out loud.

    The Remarkable Farkle McBride by John Lithgow – My little music students like this one a lot. I love how John Lithgow wasn’t afraid to use big words and not talk down to kids. That’s rare.

    Movies:
    The LEGO Movie – really fun – I especially loved how the spaceman’s helmet was broken in the front, just like nearly every one of the 1980s era LEGO space helmets my brother and I had.

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Toothless is awesome. End of story. One of my favorite kids’ movie characters in a long time.

    Music (I do get to listen to daddy music once in a while):

    Needtobreathe – Rivers in the Wasteland – The Outsiders is one of my favorite all time albums, but this one is moving up there. “Wasteland,” “Rise Again,” and “More Heart, Less Attack” are just beautiful songs.

    Switchfoot – Fading West – Not my favorite Switchfoot album, but still really good. “Saltwater Heart” is my personal favorite from this one.

    Andrew Osenga – Heart EP – “Belle Isle.” Wow.

    Honorable mentions – John Mark McMillan – Borderland; Mike Mains & the Branches – Calm Down, Everything is Fine; and…I’m just getting into Steve Taylor via word of web – just bought Goliath and I’m expecting great things.

  51. Stephen Floyd

    Books:
    1. Creativity Inc. – Ed Catmull
    2. Lone Survivor – Marcus Latrell
    3. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

    Musica:
    1. Turn Blue – Black Keys
    2. This is My Hand – My Brightest Diamond
    3(Tie). Kids These Days – Judah and the Lion
    3(Tie). When I Was Younger – Colony House

    Songs:
    1. Sleep/Attack – Rare Monk
    2. Gold – Chet Faker
    3. Weight of Love – Black Keys
    4. Rich Kids – Judah and the Lion
    5. Silhouettes – Colony House

    Movies:
    (Sorry, didn’t see any this year)

  52. Esther O'Reilly

    I should have read more books this year. But I did come up with a few wildly disparate items of note:

    *Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs: Oh my word. Should you chance upon this at a used bore, don’t think, don’t hesitate. Pick this up today.

    *A Grief Observed: Not much needs to be said about this Lewis gem!

    *Medic! How I Fought WWII With Morphine, Sulfa and Iodine Swabs, by “Doc Joe” Franklin: A wonderful forgotten memoir of the second world war. Well worth checking out.

    Also enjoyed Rudy Behlmer’s collection America’s Favorite Movies: Behind the Scenes. Another one to pounce on if you find it used somewhere.

    Movies:

    Interstellar: I think Pete’s the one who needs to go stand in a corner on this one!

    Locke: How has nobody else mentioned this yet? Starring Tom Hardy in a car. Also starring Tom Hardy in a car. See it today.

    Captain America, the Winter Soldier: I saw it twice, and it was great both times.

    Music:

    *Really discovered Jim Croce this year, which was fantastic.

    *Phil Collins, Storytellers Live. Great little acoustic project.

    *The High Kings: Wonderful “folk and roll” band from across the pond.

  53. John

    Hmmmm, this year has been a funny one for releases. I found everything to be at the end of the scales; those that were good, were stunning, and those that weren’t, just plain sucked ( looking at you, Interstellar; sorry, but I just found the ending immensely unsatisfying ).

    Books:
    – Warden and the Wolf King / AP
    – The Space Trilogy / C.S Lewis ( bit late to this, but the edition was new )
    – The Monogram Murders / Sophie Hannah ( more Poirot, always a good thing )

    Films
    – Captain America: Winter Soldier
    – Guardians of the Galaxy
    – X-Men: Days Of Future Past

    Music
    I can’t really point to any that impressed me that much this year, will have to remedy that in next year. It’s probably the reason I keep returning to the soundtrack to Studio Ghibli’s Arrietty ( though AP’s My Love Has Gone Across The Sea has a habit of following it ).

  54. Sarah Cook

    Books:
    1. Atonement by Ian McEwan–the first book I’ve ever finished, set aside, and been several hours removed before the tears started.
    2. The Terrible Speed of Mercy by Jonathan Rogers–Hands down one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.
    3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White

    Music:
    1. Birds of Relocation, Eric Peters–Late to the party on this one, but what a great party it is!
    2. Mortar and Stone, Jill Phillips
    3. Rivers in the Wasteland, Needtobreathe

    Movies/TV:
    1. Parenthood
    2. American Hustle
    3. The King’s Speech

  55. JamesDWitmer

    2014 Favorites

    Albums
    As Sure As the Sun – Ellie Holcomb
    Behold the Lamb – Andrew Peterson
    Mantis and the Moon – Son of Laughter

    (For those counting, that’s a 2/3 majority produced by Ben Shive)

    Books
    (I had a list of six I was happy with. These are three choices from that un-ranked list; story, work-related, and non-fiction.)
    Audience – Jeffery K. Rohrs
    The Narnian – Alan Jacobs
    The Green Ember – SD Smith

    Movies
    We sort of watched a lot of BBC television. More than a little. Unless you count our Christmas tradition of Jane Austin movies, I only remember watching one movie last year – The Dark Knight Rises. It was fun to watch because lots of the filming was done in Pittsburgh, near where I live.

  56. Laura Brown

    Books:
    Things That Are, Amy Leach
    Book of Hours, Kevin Young
    Stone Crossings, L.L. Barkat

    Albums:
    As Sure as the Sun, Ellie Holcomb
    Blood Oranges in the Snow, Over the Rhine
    Kin, Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr (it’s not from 2014 but it was a carryover favorite)

  57. Kathleen Mahoney

    Books:
    1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
    written from the view-point of “Death”- this book is simply amazing. I had to read it twice! and oh, how my heart stopped :’)
    2. A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
    3. Captivating by John and Stasi Elderedge
    rereads has been some Narnia, and A Winkle of Time (my all time favorite)
    I got the Space trilogy for Christmas and I am half way through “Out of the Silent Planet :))

    Movies:
    dose Doctor Who count??
    Les Miserable (did I watch it for the first time this year?? OH WELL, still makes my top list!
    Maleficent
    and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Music:
    JJ Heller
    Andrew Peterson
    and the Les Mis soundtrack

  58. Scott

    A few more honorable music mentions I forgot about: Mike Farris – Shine For All the People and Colony House – When I Was Younger. I always forget some!

  59. CTF Devourer

    Interesting assignment! I decided to waste some time and do it. 🙂

    Music:
    – Natalie Grant – Closer To Your Heart – I think she wrote this song because she knew me personally. She knew what it was like to act like a control freak, trying so hard to manage everything!
    – Group VBS – Give It Away – What can I say? I’m a sucker for good kids’ songs and this one is just plain FUN!!! And you wanted something new, right? I don’t listen to much new stuff. I never listen to the radio. I tend to get stuck in a rut and listen to the same songs over and over till new stuff is forced on me. Attending VBS forces me to hear something new.
    – An old hymn called “O Let Your Soul Now Be Filled With Gladness” – our Kids’ SS Music Leader taught them this song and I sort of got as addicted as I sat listening to them practice each Sunday. All I can find is a home produced movie of a small group Bible Study singing it around a piano, no professional, even semi-professional recordings of it are available. It’s got such deep lyrics though.

    Books: This is just too hard! I read at least 1 book a day. That’s average. Some days it’s more. When trying to finish some reviews the other day I read about 5 in a few hours – young teen books so they’re small, but still! Rarely do I go a day without reading at least one. So I have to pick from at least 365 books!
    – Nancy Rue – You Can’t Sit With Us – As much as I read I’m not one to get “lost” in a story and forget the world around me. But I did with this one. It’s part of a trilogy on anti-bullying. This one is from the perspective of the bullied. And it’s beautiful. What more can I say? Here’s a link to my review. That will explain better. 🙂 http://ctfdevourer.blogspot.com/2014/12/you-cant-sit-with-us.html
    – Julie Lessman – Heart of SanFransico #3 – I’m also a sucker for a good romance and Julie Lessman always delivers. She pushes her characters spiritually, to have as much of a passion for Jesus as a lover. And that’s why I like her books.
    – Robin Jones Gunn – Christy & Todd #1 – I’ve been following her books since I was just a young teen myself. I’ve grown up with her character. Now her character is married and trying to figure out things such as careers, finances, and church splits. She’s trying to reconcile dreams with reality. She’s dealing with her best friend being an ocean away. As a married woman I’ve dealt with all of this. It’s such a special thing when a character seems like an old friend, like someone who’s going through the same struggles as you, like maybe you’re not alone in all this.

    Movies:
    – Mom’s Night Out – its message was not just to moms, it was to women everywhere. I think Staci Eldgredge nailed it when she said women always feel like they are not enough and like they are too much. We feel weighed down by guilt so much and this movie really spoke truth to the lies we as women believe. And it did it in an entertaining manner too! What more could you ask for?
    – McGee and Me – The Not So Great Escape – Yes this is an ancient movie. But we used it for the camp’s Children’s Retreat and re-watching it for first time in years and years reminded me how much I like it. I have so much appreciation for the beautiful message it teaches! It’s everything I wanted our campers to learn!
    – What’s In The Bible DVD #13 – If you have not seen this movie series and you are a Christian or interested in what Christian believe then you need to watch all 13 DVDs in this series. I don’t care if you are kid, teen, adult, somewhere in between. My husband and I both attended Bible College – we got a bachelor’s degree in Bible for goodness sakes and we learned stuff from this series! If you have kids, buy them the whole series! Phil Vischer – the guy who did Veggie Tales – is now doing this project. It’s unbelievably better than Veggie Tales. It takes you all the way through the Bible, covering every single book. All 66. Yes, even Song of Solomon. As one of the main characters puts it “Eew! It’s mushy love songs!” Can a young child who shouldn’t even have heard the word “sex” yet learn something from Song of Solomon? Yes! Can a young child understand books of prophecy like Ezekiel or Hosea? Yes!

  60. Sasha

    All of these are in the order discovered, as putting them in any other order would take much more time! This was my year of discovering the Rabbit Room, so these books will look familiar to many of you…

    1. The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
    If you’ve read this, you know how it ends. I won’t spoil it. I’d like to say more, but words elude me. All I can think of is a Tolkien quote: ‘Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme of things not found within recorded time…’
    2. The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
    Hard to believe the publishing date – this book reminded me of the old treasures of authors long dead – Watership Down, The Hobbit, The Man Who Was Thrusday, Till We Have Faces – but not because the plot elements were particularly similar. It had that quality of perfect balance in pace and character, combined with an inability to easily fit in any category. What kind of book is this, anyway? One that should be read.
    3. Auralia’s Colors/Cyndere’s Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet (two books)
    I had many of the same thoughts while reading these books, but I was particularly impressed by the way little decisions or thoughts are shown to be important after all. Overstreet paints a web of details that seem insignificant, then pulls a surprising number into the climax, making these books difficult to summarize.

    Music
    1. How to Train Your Dragon 2: Music from the Motion Picture (composed by John Powell)
    I listen to a lot of soundtracks (especially when writing). Music from the first dragon movie has been a favorite for a while, and this second installment is even better. Familiar and new themes interweave in new voices. The vocals! The violins! Bagpipes! I only wish I had a recording of The Dancing and the Dreaming without Gobber interrupting…
    2. Light for the Lost Boy (Andrew Peterson)
    I wanted to become more familiar with Andrew Peterson’s music after finishing his books. I chose this album because I’d heard Don’t You Want to Thank Someone and wanted a recording of it. I don’t usually think of music in terms of albums. Most of the time I’ll like an artist or a song rather than an album, and I don’t buy new music very often. But this album…wow. I can’t possibly pick a favorite song – they all go together. These are good songs to get stuck in your head. I don’t know how many times ‘come back soon,’ ‘you are not alone,’ and other lyrics have popped into my head just when I needed them.
    3. O, ‘Twas a Joyful Sound to Hear
    As I said, I don’t buy new music very often. This is a hymn my church has been singing this year, based on Psalm 122. Apparently the melody we use isn’t the usual one. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quZab-lVl-c

    Movies
    1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
    I might have first watched this last year; I don’t remember for sure. I’ve probably seen it about six times since. A contender for my favorite movie. Words are eluding me again. Just go watch it.
    2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    This was mostly just a fun movie. The contrast between the Captain and Natasha worked well. What I liked most about this movie, though, was the end. It’s not unusual to call superheroes Christ-figures, but [TINY SPOILER WARNING] the Captain’s efforts to save someone who’s trying to kill him struck me symbolically. Also, ‘open your hand’ oddly reminded me of Lilith. [DONE WITH TINY SPOILER]
    3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
    Like the music, the first was a favorite and I was surprised to find the second even better. I find myself wanting to praise the acting of an animated movie – so great job voice actors and animators! The story was maybe overly complicated at times, but the themes of forgiveness, sorrow, and the question of whether ‘bad guys’ can always be talked out of evil (an idea that needed more time in the first movie) were worth it.

    Whew! That took longer than I thought (be warned if you plan to comment after me!). Oh, and I forgot I read Lilith for the first time this year… ah well.
    If by ‘most regret’ you mean ‘most often regret,’ I’m guessing Pete is tired of Frozen. Not a bad movie, but it’s hard to believe we’re still seeing Elsa and Olaf everywhere. And hearing that song.
    Happy New Year, Rabbit Room!

  61. Glenn

    Good heavens. Where to begin? Such a great list already. Chris Yokel, I think you and I could be friends. 🙂

    Looking back through my GoodReads list is like saying hi to old friends. This was a year for awesome books, thanks to a lot of you fine people. Some were:
    Desiring the Kingdom – James K.A. Smith
    Watership Down (For the first time. Please forgive me it took this long. Holy cow. What a read.)
    Asher Lev (Terrific story about art and calling and identity)
    Futureville
    Gilead
    The Yearling (See my remarks about Watership Down)
    Flora and Ulysses (Kate DiCamillo. Period.)
    and …
    The Entire Wingfeather Saga (had to re-read the first three movements to fully appreciate the finale)

    Music:
    Switchfoot – Fading West
    Needtobreathe – Rivers
    Jeremy Casella – Death in Reverse
    John Mark McMillan – Borderland
    U2
    Ellie Holcomb
    Foy Vance
    Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible
    Rain for Roots – Kingdom of Heaven
    Abigail Washburn & Bela Fleck

    I don’t get to a lot of movies because young children. Planet of the Apes is, as you all have said, stunning. My one theater movie this year? But I did finally rent Moonrise Kingdom, as per Jeffrey Overstreet’s Hutchmoot recommendation, and wow. I suppose I’ll be renting Budapest Hotel soon, eh?

  62. Derek

    Being such an avid music fan, had to add my picks to this one week old post. I also am doing so before reading any of the comments, so as to make sure my list is unique to me. Apologize in advance for any repeats.

    Music:
    1. The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream
    Keep coming back to this album over and over again. It is so great in many ways and in many ways reminds me of growing up listening to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Adam Granduciel created an incredible masterpiece here. Do not miss this album. You will not be disappointed. On a side note, here is a great interview with Adam Granduciel: http://www.stereogum.com/1668412/through-the-haze-the-struggles-visions-and-revelations-of-the-war-on-drugs/franchises/interview/

    2. Future Island – Singles
    After hearing this album and then seeing their stellar performance on Letterman, I am all in on this band. Definitely a late addition to my best of list. It has been on rotation now for over a week.

    3. John Mark McMillan – Borderland
    First song gets it so right with “Holy Ghost”. The rest of the album flows impeccably from a guy who is vastly and criminally underrated.

    4. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
    Just cannot get enough of Damien’s songwriting. This album is far and away my favorite thing from his prolific catalog.

    Books:
    1. The Pursuit of God /// Man – The Dwelling Place of God – A.W. Tozer
    A couple classics that I keep going back to over and over.

    2. The Mockingbird Devotional – Various
    Gifted to me last Christmas and has become a staple for me each and every morning.

    3. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh

    Movies:

    Honestly, I am quite behind on movies. I too have heard the new Planet of the Apes in outstanding. Need to see it soon. Saw Boyhood on a long flight to China. I liked it but it was not redeeming enough for me. I did finally see The Fitzgerald Family Christmas and it although it is very rough language wise at times, the redemption of an estranged father really moved me.

    But if I was going to pick one movie, it would be Big Hero 6. We saw it as family and our three kids absolutely loved it. Seeing my youngest daughter (5) choke up towards the end of the movie, brought me to tears as well. It is just a fantastic story with a great mix of humor, action, and emotion. I consider it a great privilege as a father any time our entire family gets to go see an excellent movie together.

  63. Derek

    @Arthur Alligood

    So stinking good to see someone mention Willy Mason!!! I discovered this guy in summer 2013 and Carry On became my daily anthem while driving to work. What a phenomenal album. Need some new stuff from him soon!

    Btw…thanks for also making some truly excellent music! Wish more people realized what is behind the scenes.

  64. Nate Fleming

    Books

    1. Rereading Harry Potter
    2. Sycamore Row – always enjoy a good Grisham yarn
    3. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks – trying to work my way through the Shannara books, but there are so many of them I have no idea where I am in the chronology. But I do enjoy his books!

    Movies

    1. Interstellar – I don’t know what got me about this movie. Was it the father/daughter relationship? The amazing journey into a completely realistic outer space? There were plenty of holes in the plot, but the good made up for the bad, and then some. It was almost a sacred experience for me.
    2. Believe Me – the best Christian-made film of the year, by far. LOVED it.
    3. Guardians of the Galaxy – the best thing about GofG was seeing it on opening day with my kids, when the film was a nearly complete mystery. It could have been the year’s biggest stinker, but turned out to be completely awesome sauce and we all loved it. Hope Chris Pratt’s star shines for quite some time.

    Albums

    1. Interstellar OST. I forgot to mention how much I loved the music of this film, and have it playing constantly on my “for writing” playlist on Spotify, except when my 11 year old daughter is around. It freaks her out, which I find kind of funny, considering the relationship in the film.
    2. Songs of Innocence. U2. Yes, I was one of the ones who was happy to find a new U2 in my iTunes that morning, although it was a bit freaky.

    Apple? Are you watching me? Hello? Can I have a new iPhone, please?

    3. The film music of Christophe Beck. Love that guy’s work.

  65. Sam

    Books:
    1. Swipe – Evan Angler
    2. Alliegent – Veronica Roth
    3. The Circle Series – I don’t know

  66. Carl

    Better late than never…? 🙂

    As others have noted above, we have young kids in our house, which skews the list to be heavily kid-centric.

    Here is my Top 3 List of 2014:

    1.Books

    a.With- Skye Jethani – Great perspective on living life with God. Busts some of my tendencies to try to do things “for God” instead of walking the daily path of life with Him.

    b.Daring Greatly- Brene Brown – Brene is a researcher of shame, vulnerability, and, in contrast, what she calls “whole-hearted living.” Here is a confirmation from the world of academia of what we know as believers already- to love and live wholeheartedly requires vulnerability.

    c.(Kid’s book)- Let’s Go For a Drive- Mo Willems – My 3 year-old laughs out loud and reads along with this book. In fact, the Elephant and Piggie series is probably tops for creativity, hilarity, and even teaching my young son what the joys of friendship can look like, and how to navigate social and practical life situations.

    Honorable Mentions:
    -The Warden and the Wolf King- Andrew Peterson- Breathtaking
    -The 100 Cupboards series (the whole trilogy) – N.D. Wilson- Fantastic, I am 34 and felt like a boy again reading this series.
    -Leepike Ridge- N.D. Wilson- See the above comment on 100 Cupboards.
    -Heartfelt Discipline- Clay Clarkson- Best parenting book I have ever read.
    -Walking with God through Pain and Suffering- Tim Keller- A comfort as we walked through miscarriage this last winter, great pastoral and practical resource as well.
    -The Cloister Walk- Kathleen Norris- One of those books that slows you down, makes you sit awhile and ponder how to become more rooted in your community.
    -The Places In Between- Rory Stewart- Journalist who walks across Afghanistan in January 2002… fascinating look at the culture and people of Afghanistan.
    -Little Green Peas- Keith Baker- another LoL book for my 3-year old, very entertaining color book for toddlers and preschoolers.
    -My Beastie Book of ABC- Delightfully silly

    2.Music

    a.Beauty Will Rise- Steven Curtis Chapman- A great comfort to us after we went through a miscarriage. Heart-wrenching beauty.

    b.Slugs and Bugs and Butterflies- the original- We had “Under Where?” first but got this one for Christmas. Our family’s top CD for dancing in the living room right now.

    c.Caspar Babypants (as a Pandora station) – Another artist for young kids in the vein of Slugs and Bugs silly songs. Great original lyrics, excellent musicianship. From the lead singer of the band “The Presidents of the United States of America.”

    3.Movies/TV- I don’t really watch much at all, so this is a limited list.

    a.Ragamuffin- Love Rich, was great to see this, to see his brokenness and hear his story from a different perspective… am curious why it never got a plug in the Rabbit Room?

    b.Call The Midwife- A BBC export that I’ve been roped into as my wife binge-watched everything available. These are touching stories of pain, life, bravery, grace, and community.

  67. Esther O'Reilly

    I’m going to amend my movies list for a film that technically did come out in limited release last month, and that’s American Sniper. I’ve just now seen it, and it’s fantastic. I don’t know how Hollywood managed to produce a movie that strikes the perfect balance between jingoism and mindless anti-war cliches, but it did.

  68. Nathan Paul

    I started off 2014 by reading The Silmarillion for the first time (which was fantastic). With alpha-nerd status firmly established, the rest of the year was largely devoted to retreading old ground, including:

    Paradise Lost
    The Hobbit
    The Lord of the Rings
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    The Space Trilogy
    The Abolition of Man
    The Pilgrim’s Regress

    You can see I couldn’t possibly pick a “top three” out of those!

    Movies that stood out to me:
    The Lego Movie – very funny, charming, and inventive. See it!
    Pygmalion (1938) – an arrogant bachelor wagers that he can transform a common flower girl into a duchess.

    This comment thread has been a great place to get recommendations!

  69. Ruby Maxson

    Hey Rabbits, sorry this is so late, lost my first comment so this will be short(er).

    Books:
    1. Swipe by Evan Angler, One word: AWESOME! Dystopian fiction with sprinkling of christian values and a whole lot of awesomeness!
    2. Wing Feather Saga by Andrew Peterson, (also, brother wants to say that it was his favorite book and he talks a lot about AP, good job Andrew!!) first book series to make me cry last year, I laughed and cried and danced around when the good guys won. Which I almost never do, but that book was just that good.
    3. This goes to “Secrets within Secrets” by Sam (who also commented above, he is an amazing writer), and of course “Katerina” by Kentt (another amazing writer). (You can’t find these books except on the computers of those who wrote them and the treasured few who read them) Keep up the good work guys! Was so fun writing with you all! Thanks for reading my my book:)

    Movies:
    1. Avengers, my bro and I love superhero movies and this one was totally one of our favs.
    2. Return of the King, loved this one, watched all three LOTR’s starting at 5 A.M, yes, A.M!
    3. North and South by BBC, I got to watch it with my cousin and it was so awesome:)
    Music:
    After All These Years by Andrew Peterson (most of the songs that get stuck in my head are from that album)
    All Sons and Daughters Live
    Joy by Rend Collective!

    Sorry for being late, But hey, better late than never as an above person said 😉
    -Ruby:)

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