Risen's Favorites of 2016

In 2016, the world witnessed tragedies and heartbreaks, wins and victories. Everything from #BlackLivesMatter to the deceased gorilla Harambe took the world stage, and throughout our planet, we all learned a little more, dressed a little better, and changed ever so slightly in a year we are surely not going to fast forget. Below are some of Risen's favorite moments, people, places, and things that were explored in this turbulent, fast-moving year. We hope you enjoy, and happy new year! 

- The Risen Team


For me, this year was all about getting back to reading. When I was a lot younger, I used to read all the time and was always interested in finding my next great book. Unfortunately, moving into the harder years of school hasn’t allowed for too much spare time to take a breath, sit down, and read. However, in the past couple months I’ve made an effort, and here’s what I’ve learned from my two favorite books of 2016.

Yaa Gyasi’s novel, “Homegoing” provides two stories in one. On one end is an extremely in-depth view into an American slave’s origin story, as well as the story of her descendants in the US. The other is an inside look at West African life and culture through the view of another individual and her descendants, both beginning their tales around the 17th century, ending in the 21st. Following these two women and the families they create id a truly magical experience, and one that was especially interesting for me as I learned about these cultures that I had previously never thought of. Black communities in the the19th century American South, empires along the West African coast, and more truly fascinating subjects were explored in this book. I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in history, rich culture, and an emotional read.

With this book I barely know where to start. This pure, heart-wrenching story of man’s best friend was a read I was almost surprised to actually enjoy. From the cover and the synopsis, it looks as though this book was written for fun and laughs, and couldn’t possibly contain what’s found within, but once the cover’s opened, your perception is instantly changed. The story is that of Ted Flask, who has a special connection with his dog Lily, nine years in the making. As Lily nears the stage where many dachshunds see their end, she develops… an octopus. The octopus is in fact a tumor, but Ted deals with the situation by naming the lump on her head the octopus, dreaming of ways to kill it and rid it of his home and dog once and for all. Ted cares for Lily immensely, and seeing her physical and mental state grow weaker by the day has a very strong impact on him, which is written with passion throughout the 320 pages of this book. One should definitely read this novel if looking for a strong, powerful read with an intense look at the human-pet relationship, but be aware that the light, heartfelt dog-human friendship is highlighted as well, creating a balance that creates a truly intriguing story.

Social Media:

This past year I have discovered a great deal of photographers on Instagram, both in the digital and film media. Although the twenty-first century brings about a lot of digital photography, there still remains something very stimulating in the way time is captured on film.


“Princess of Tourettes”

A photographer whose many self-portraits explore a range of moods and lighting, her photos have a soft aura and tonal dimensionality. The mood of her work revolves greatly around colour, and nature seems to be a recurring theme.


“The Other Side of the Rainbow” found on alexcurriemedia.com

I’ve been following this blog for a while now, and what I find compelling about it is that each photo seems to convey a strong feeling. His work involves conceptual photo series as well as film photos. If you’re looking to see more of this artist I recommend his yearbook series (titled “One Last Summer” on his blog) because it contains many candid photos and sparks a nostalgic sense of moving on and growing up.


“The Frights in DC”, by Al Smith

Here is another film photographer I discovered through Tumblr whose work is inspired by local music scenes. Her many portraits of friends and local music acts are showcased in a fuzzy, grainy film style. You should definitely check this blog out if you are interested in film photography and out-of-the-mainstream music.


Through the turbulence of 2016 , there has always been a particular site that always seems to dismiss the hectic and chaotic feeling present throughout that the year : sunsets and sunrises. The beautiful array of colours never fails to place a smile on any onlookers face , their mesmerising beauty always captured on our phones and cameras , stopping even the busiest of people . Ranging from pale pinks and baby blues to vibrant purples and loud yellows , here are my favourite sunsets and sunrises of 2016:



The action-filled series Quantico is currently on production break in season 2 of their powerful, moving and breathtakingly electrifying motion picture which tells the story of the past: [sees Alex and her training in the CIA Farm after leaving the FBI at the end of the last season. She and her partner, Ryan Booth are recruited among other various other diverse characters, joining them in tough exercises, courses and assignments - trying to survive and graduate in one piece.] As well as the present: [A terrorist attack takes place and CIA recruits are taken hostage as the show follows the motive of the terrorists involved and the danger Alex finds herself in - in order to save and serve her country and her state]. This ever-changing time frame of events shows audiences gives it more the thrill of CIA life and teases with the need to know what happens next.
The reason why I felt that Quantico was the highlight of TV series this year is that for once in a very long time a series has introduced different kinds of ethnicity in its cast.
The cast consists of:
·        Priyanka Chopra as ‘Alex Parrish’ representing India
·        Pearl Thusi as ‘Dayana Mampasi’ representing South Africa
·        Russell Tovey as ‘Harry Doyle’ representing the United Kingdom
·        Yasmine Al Massri as twins ‘Nimah & Raina Amin’ representing Palestine
·        Aaron Diaz as ‘Léon Velez’ representing Mexico

Quantico gives off compelling and epic vibes. It’s a terrorist thriller and dramatic, action flick all coming together to cook up a little detective in each person watching and creating intrigue and awe when each episode ends, leaving its audience at the edge of their seats. This impressive series created by the brilliant, Joshua Safran is one series to look out for in the remainder of its second season in 2017.
Web Series:

With the rise of media platforms such as YouTube and Netflix, web series are finally beginning to hit their stride. A web series is a series of videos posted online, usually in episodic form, which first gained popularity in the early 2000s. Some notable web series are House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Arrested Development (all Netflix original series).


Skam is a Norwegian TV series that centers on fictional high school students living in Oslo (Norway’s capital), with each season told from the point of view of a different main character. Each episode is aired on NRK’s (the network that produces the show) website through daily clips that are posted in real time. For example, if a scene in the show is happening at 9:21 on a Friday night, that’s when the clip for that scene is posted. Additionally, fans can interact with the characters, as if they are real people, through fake Instagram and Facebook profiles.

I binge-watched the third season of Skam online after discovering it through an article by Dazed Digital. I was immediately sucked into the universe of Isak, a teenager struggling with accepting his sexuality and distancing himself from friends because of his crush on a high school senior, Even. The other two seasons deal with issues such as Islamophobia, homophobia, slut-shaming, feminism, sexual harassment, date rape, eating disorders, and mental illness. If you’re looking for a show with realism, humor, and romance that will give you major feels, this is the perfect show for you!


Beyond Beauty is a web series created by i-D magazine, an alternative culture magazine that centers on fashion and music. In this documentary-style series, i-D follows Grace Neutral, a 27-year-old tattoo artist and activist hailing from London, as she explores how younger generations are challenging traditional views around beauty and body image in South Korea.

I love this web series because of the absolutely stunning cinematography, as well as the intriguing topics covered on the show, such as the juxtaposition and integration of western and Asian cultures. Grace’s narration and style also create a refreshing and exciting atmosphere, since it’s not everyday that you watch a show hosted by a girl with blue scleras. If you have an interest in learning more about global beauty standards, especially those in Asia, this is the series to watch.


This year has brought a tremendous amount of amazing and talented artists. Tons of huge and upcoming artists varying different genres from Frank Ocean to Sia released records in 2016. To finish off the year of 2016, Risen presents a list (and playlist) of memorable and iconic songs and albums, as well as underrated and underground ones.


  • Frank Ocean, Blonde
  • Beyoncé, Lemonade
  • Rihanna, Anti
  • Solange, A Seat at the Table

  • Blood Orange, Freetown Sound
  • Childish Gambino, Awaken! My Love
  • Emotion: Side B, Carly Rae Jepsen


  1. Ultralight Beam, Kanye ft. Chance the Rapper,
  2. Panda, Desiigner
  3. Black Beatles, Rae Sremmurd
  4. Broccoli, D.R.A.M ft. Lil Yachty
  5. Hey Girl, Lady Gaga ft. Florence Welch
  6. All Time Low, Jon Bellion
  7. Heart Don’t Stand a Chance, Anderson .Paak
  8. Formation, Beyoncé
  9. 1 Night, Lil Yachty
  10. Bad and Boujee, Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert
  11. All I Need, Noname ft. Xavier Omär
  12. Tomboy, Princess Nokia
  13. Death of a Bachelor, Panic! At The Disco
  14. Pop Style, Drake
  15. Send My Love (To Your New Lover), Adele
  16. All In My Head, Fifth Harmony ft. Fetty Wap
  17. Caroline, Aminé
  19. Someone That Loves You, HONNE ft. Izzy Bizu
  20. Art Exhibit, Young the Giant
  21. Heathens, Twenty One Pilots
  22. Send Them Off!, Bastille
  23. Soundcheck, Catfish and the Bottlemen
  24. Angels, Chance the Rapper ft.
  25. My Favorite Part, Mac Miller ft. Ariana Grande
  26. The Sound, The 1975
  27. Gravel To Tempy, Hayley Kiyoko
  28. Do You Miss Me At All, Bridgit Mendler
  29. This Town, Niall Horan
  30. Sweet Talk, Saint Motel
  31. Wedding Singer, Modern Baseball
  32. Miracle Aligner, The Last Shadow Puppets
  33. Don’t Touch My Hair, Solange
  34. Store, Carly Rae Jepsen
  35. Superlove, Tinashe
  36. My Boo, Ghost Town DJ's
  37. Black Barbies, Nicki Minaj



My vision is awful, so awful that in fact I am legally blind. As a nerdy fourth grader, I didn’t mind the glasses since I felt they fit my personality; however, when middle school rolled around, I became self-conscious and could always pick out when I was the only one in a room wearing frames. I was really at a loss because I was insecure both wearing my glasses, and without because I thought the bags under my eyes were the worst things. Eventually, the day before high school started, I forced my finger into my eye to put in contacts for the first time and to start fresh.

Today, glasses have started to become trendy as a fashion piece. It’s extremely relieving to see them becoming normalized after years of seeing them as nothing but a drawback and insecurity as a kid. There are so many styles of frames now that would have been a point of ridicule in the past, but are cute today. I absolutely adore my glasses now that better styles have become available and know that they still capture the nerdy nature I was proud of in fourth grade.

Glasses can be extremely expensive, but with increasing technology and reliance on the web, many sites have become available to offer glasses for cheap. Whether you just want the frames for style or to help you see, sites like Warby Parker offer cheap solutions.

I like to wear my tortoise-shell big round glasses with vintage pieces as well as with more rock-influenced pieces to soften up a look.


One of the less-discussed trends of 2016 that we loved was mesh. Whether it’s simply a slightly-sheer cutout in a dress or a full-blown fishnet top, mesh is the best material to spice up any “meh” outfit. It’s also ideal for layering when you don’t want to be too stuffy/hot!


I remember having a keychain full of random keys when I was six. I used to play with them all the time, and I loved the Rugrats keychain they were on. But as I grew up, I noticed that nobody used fun, unique keychains, they much preferred basic rings. However, this year, people have started to use wild and fun keychains just as accessories, and I'm here for it. Keychains come in so many different styles and they can be used to express personality. Even though having 10 or 12 on a bag as a fashion statement may be a bit overboard, having a fluffy, shiny, or glittery keychain is something I can totally get behind.


This year, embroidered clothes have made a comeback. I'm not sure why clothes like these have so much appeal, but nobody can deny how good embroidered clothes look. Embroidery has popped up on clothes and shoes by high fashion brands like Gucci and Alexander Wang, but the coolest embroidered clothes have been the ones that people make themselves. I know that lots of embroidered clothes have made it on my wish list and I even started to teach myself how to embroider last year.


2016 has been a year of loss of great minds yet also of innovation. Despite some of these influential people losing their physical presence in the world, their legacies will continue to live on through the messages that they had conveyed in their lifetimes. Their talent, wisdom, and in some cases, activism are all qualities that won’t be forgotten easily. These people serve as inspiration to all of us and the loss of them won’t be in vain as this is an opportunity for future generations to start their own legacies.

... David Bowie, ...

David Bowie (1947-2016)

“I'm not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I'm living on.”
  • Active in raising awareness for AIDs and animal rights
  • Challenged gender norms and performed philanthropic actions while also producing memorable tracks

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Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

“Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”
  • Spent years raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease, from which he died of
  • Spoke against drafting during the time of the Vietnam War and was a fierce civil rights activist


Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

“There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.’”
  • An advocate for mental health awareness that was outspoken about her own mental illness and experiences with drug abuse
  • A talented actress as well as writer who showed us that not every princess has to be a damsel in distress


Prince (1958-2016)

  • Openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement and took every chance he had to speak about it as he used his music as a platform for artistic activism
  • Was known for his flamboyant stage presence that challenged common notions of masculinity


Diane Guerrero

  • Spread awareness on immigration law reform and detailed her experiences with these laws in her memoir, In the Country We Love

File:Gene Wilder 1970.JPG

Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

“I never used to believe in fate. I used to think you make your own life, and then you call it fate.”
  • Spoke out for ovarian cancer awareness for many years.
  • Co-founded Gilda’s Club, an organization for people with cancer along with their friends and family that provides people with emotional support among other types of aid.



  • Openly supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Released a visual album this year that contains themes of black and female empowerment.


On behalf of the entire Risen staff, thank you so much for sticking with us though this crazy year! We've so much enjoyed providing content and entertainment for our readers, and are honored to be recognized and appreciated by all of you. Cheers to 2017, and the happiest of new years to you!


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