Select Page

My favorites of 2015

Happy last week of 2015! Can you believe how quickly this year whooshed by? I know, we say that every year, don’t we? But every year, I mean it.

I’m taking a wee bit of a work break over the holidays so that I’m fully present in my offline world, but I thought I’d take a few minutes to pop back on here this week. On Thursday, I’ll share my annual New Year’s Eve reflection questions (complete with free downloadable PDF!), but today, I thought I’d share in post form what I was planning to share with my newsletter subscribers.

Here’s what I loved in 2015.

Favorite book

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year, and I read it in February this year, and in France, no less.

This book? Pure magical storytelling. Anthony Doerr made me believe in modern fiction again, and it stayed with me for months afterwards. If you haven’t yet, read this book stat. Stunning.

Favorite movie

Inside Out

Inside Out

I saw maybe three movies in the theater this year, so this isn’t terribly fair. But I adored Inside Out and bawled like a mother throughout. (Perhaps because I have a daughter Riley’s age, and we just moved across the country?) Such a great film—one of Pixar’s best.

(Close second: The Martian)

Favorite TV show

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls

I mean, really. I’m so behind on current shows, or even really know anymore when shows were originally released. But I remember when Gilmore Girls was first aired in the early 2000s, and it didn’t interest me. And it didn’t interest me again—until sometime this year in season 2, when I got hooked and dutifully binge-watched the rest in the span of about a month over the summer.

So fun. So dated. So much early 200s pop culture.

Favorite country we visited


I know; such a cliché—everybody loves Italy. But it’s for a good reason, and that’s because it’s awesome. The food, the art, the people, the landscapes, the lifestyle…. magic.

Oxenreiders in Italy

(Close behind: Croatia, Germany, and Kenya)

Favorite gift to myself

Sacred Ordinary Days, 2016 liturgical day planner

Sacred Ordinary Days liturgical day planner

I’ve only used this for a few days, but I’m already in love. This beauty combines the liturgical church calendar year with daily planning and includes tons of space for reflection. (It looks like Jenn and her team created a few extra, so if you’re interested, head here to claim one!)

Favorite space on the Internet

It felt like it was a tough year on the Internet. Good ideas were exchanged and beautiful things were written, but much of it honestly felt vitriolic, angry, and plain ol’ closed-minded.

Humans of New York

Which is why I’m grateful for Humans of New York, the Facebook (etc.) page by Brandon Stanton. It’s a breath of humanity, a reminder of how big and small the world is, and a beautiful example of someone using their online popularity as a force for powerful, powerful good. Don’t miss his recent work highlighting refugees.

Favorite Instagram

Here’s a collection of my year’s “best nine,” the most liked of my Instagrams:

Tsh Oxenreider's Best 9 of 2015

It’s near impossible for me to pick my absolute one favorite photo of the year, so here’s one that tops my list:

Kyle and Tsh in New Zealand

Our middle son, Reed, covertly snapped this pic at a rest stop in New Zealand. I love it, not because of its composition or clarity, but because my son took it, and because it’s of us. And because New Zealand.

Favorite part of my work

It was a really good year here in 2015, and I’ll share more in early 2016, in my annual State O’ the Blog address. But this year, more than anything, I really grew to love writing my monthly personal newsletter and producing the podcast. Very fulfilling parts of my work, and I’m grateful to those of you who’ve shared your enthusiasm for them both.


Thank you.

2015 was good and it was hard. Really hard. I’m glad we’re turning a new calendar page soon, because I love fresh starts and new beginnings. But now, for the next few days, I’ll spend time offline reflecting on this past year, and what it’s meant to me and my family. I encourage you to do the same.

Happy end of 2015! See you here on Thursday. And if you haven’t yet, sign up for my monthly personal newsletter, where I share behind the scenes stuff on writing, travel, and life.

In the comments, answer these questions just for fun, too…. What was your favorite book? Favorite movie or TV show? Favorite place you visited or thing you did? Favorite gift to yourself? Favorite space on the Internet? Favorite Instagram or photo? Favorite part of your work?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Katherine Willis Pershey

    Fun post! Here are my answers:

    What was your favorite book?
    Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (I didn’t love the ending but the rest of the book was so great it still prevailed as my favorite)

    Favorite movie or TV show?
    Doctor Who

    Favorite place you visited or thing you did?
    Water tubing with my older daughter at Camp Highlands in Sayner, Wisconsin

    Favorite gift to yourself?
    Annual membership to the local yoga studio

    Favorite space on the Internet?
    Art of Simple. 🙂

    Favorite Instagram or photo?
    A picture of our family on Easter Sunday.

    Favorite part of your work?
    Writing, leading worship, and facilitating small group ministries

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Love it, Katherine!

  2. Amy

    I recently discovered Gilmore Girls on Netflix and I totally binged on it! I’m so sad it is over, and I’m desperately searching for a new show.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh, I know – I was so sad when it ended, too.

  3. Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas

    This is a such a fun post, Tsh! And you watched GG just in time to be excited about the new season coming out!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I know, right?

  4. Caroline Starr Rose

    Oh my goodness, that calendar! I’m actually sitting here pulling together my 2016 calendar, something I love to do. I wish I’d heard of Sacred Ordinary Days sooner. Nothing makes me happier than a planner I love. I’ve made note to order a copy for next year, when they’re available.

    Something I’ve just treated myself to is a Five-Year Journal. I saw it maybe six months ago in a stationery store and have kicked myself ever since for not picking it up. So I ordered one a few days ago as a present to myself. Five years from now I’ll have one in college and one senior. I’m curious what our lives will look like then.

    All best and Happy New Year! Have you finished your draft??? I’ve thought of you often these last few months. I’m waiting on second-round edits and working on a picture book in this in between time.

    • Caroline Starr Rose

      I wanted to tell you I got a planner. Thanks so much!

  5. raeleneb

    I second your favorite book pick Tsh! I too read it in February and of all the other books I read over the year, it still tops the list. So much so that I gave away three copies as gifts during the year. So good!

    Our family spent several weeks on the road trekking and camping through the West this summer; the Oregon coast (all of it) was my favorite (Tillicum Beach and the Redeood Forest were especially magical).

    Happy New Year, friend!

  6. raeleneb

    *ahem. Redwood Forest.
    Spellcheck woes, eh?

  7. Jess Townes

    Love, love, love end of the year posts!

    Here’s my answers:

    What was your favorite book?
    I just did a post on my top nine children’s books (I read exponentially more kid lit than adult lit), but of the list my top pic would be The Marvels by Brian Selznick. Absolutely stunning tribute to the power of story. My favorite grown up books I read this year were Olive Kitteridge (not new, but new to me), Big Magic and Yes Please.

    Favorite movie or TV show?
    Parks and Recreation. We watched the whole series this year, and it was one of the first sitcoms I’ve ever watched that got better each season. I often feel like sitcom characters become caricatures of themselves by the end of the series, but here they became more authentic and relatable as time went on. Very smart, and particularly funny if you’ve ever worked for in city government.

    Favorite place you visited or thing you did?
    I took my boys on an impromptu road trip to Texas last January on my own, my husband flew down and met us a week in. It was a great adventure, just the three of us, and so much fun visiting our old hometown of Austin after 13 years away (man has it ever changed).

    Favorite gift to yourself?
    YMCA membership. It’s the Y, but it felt decadent to me to sit in a steam room in the cold winter months.

    Favorite space on the Internet?
    PiBoIdMo Facebook group – wildly creative group of supportive picture book authors and illlustrators

    Favorite Instagram or photo?
    A dear friend took this picture of me and my son sitting on my back patio, it’s not online anywhere, but it’s my favorite picture of the year, because it summed up how much of our time was spent, together, at home, slow, tender.

    Favorite part of your work?
    Connecting to other writers and aspiring writers.

  8. Clare

    Love this! We like so many of the same things 🙂 Gilmore Girls is one of my favourite shows of all time. And your photo? Because New Zealand? I get to live there every day! But I’m in Auckland, so no snowy mountains. Just lots and lots of beaches and volcanic cones. I love it 🙂

    My thoughts:
    Best Book: Percy Jackson series! I’m late to the party, but I have been devouring these in the last few months. So much fun! And I am Princess X. I was tempted to stay up until I finished it!

    Favourite film – I am so with you on Inside Out. Genius. SO touching, and so true.

    Favourite TV show: Agents of Shield and Jessica Jones are the new shows I have become obsessed with. But the West Wing and Gilmore Girls will be forever favourites.

    Favourite Internet space? Always Humans of New York. It’s the reason I check Facebook multiple times a day 🙂

    Favourite gift to myself? Nutrimetics foot soak. Bliss.

    Favourite photo? a photo I took of my dog sitting in a field of yellow daisies at the Auckland botanic gardens. She looks so happy.

    Favourite part of my job? Helping kids achieve their goals and providing pastoral care support through my job as a flute teacher, and helping women feel good about themselves, treat themselves and take time out for themselves as a direct sell Nutrimetics consultant. So much fun. Roll on 2016!

  9. Lisa Vickers

    Hi Tsh,

    I’d just like to say thank you for your blog from a very wet Devon , UK. I’ve loved it all year. I’m a Granny of two tiny boys, a Quaker and live in a very small 17th century cottage on Dartmoor – so not at all like your typical reader, I think. May you continue to delight our heart and minds in 2016.


  10. Tara

    Love this and thanks for sharing! I am wondering how you discovered your top nine instagrams? Did you use a special program? Thanks!

  11. Katie May

    Favorite Movie in 2015: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

  12. Cortina

    Thanks for making me reflect 🙂

    Book- Ugh, I can´t remember the title! It was a real page turner about a boy who could´t talk and how he was treated by his family. Took place in Iran I think. It was the first novel I read in my second language, Norwegian, so that was a big accomplishment for me 🙂

    Movie- Inside Out of course!

    TV show- 7am news on CNN live from LA. I live in Norway so a live feed from the US excites me although I am from Chicago.

    Country- I got to travel with a dear friend to my beloved Finland, where I was an exchange student 20+ years and which started this whole Scandinavian adventure.

    Gift to myself- Finally moving out of my in-laws and into our own place, despite the financial strain it is marriage/family BLISS!

    Space on the internet- Just in general the way that the internet allows me connect with comforts from home- streaming my favorite radio stations and staying connected with friends.

    Instagram- Boo! It got hacked! But I only followed a very small group of people so this was a good place for me, not like Fb where I get overwhelmed and waste time and end up comparing myself to others which leads to jealousy and frustration.

    Work- This year I really enjoyed my profession, teacher, and felt confident that, even though I have a long way to go, I am ok teacher and this is where God wants me.

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.