What to Read in 2017

Hello, Mama Bears!

My name is Lindsey Sinnwell and you don’t know me, but Tesi does. We went to high school together and I would describe us as friendly, but not friends back then. I don’t think we thought we had much in common. But now, through one of the best aspects of Facebook, we’ve discovered we have more in common than we imagined. One of the things we’ve bonded over is books. (Also, having lots of kids, Harry Potter, movies, politics and podcasts!)

I am an avid reader and I am overjoyed when I find other readers in life. I have been writing a small, mostly unread blog since 2009 chronicling every book I’ve read. The reviews are nothing spectacular, mostly just my gut reactions to the books. (I liked it. I didn’t like it. This was good. It was missing this for me.) I keep the blog mostly for myself, so when Tesi and Leslie asked me to write a book recommendation post for the Mama Bear blog, I thought, “I don’t know if I can do that.” But, then I thought about all the dares I have listened to throughout the year on Mama Bear Dares and I told myself, “Do it!” It scares me, but here I am doing it.

I read 135 books in 2016—some old, some new. (I did say avid when I described myself as a reader. Should I have maybe used the word obsessive?) I have more free time than the average Mama Bear and I can ignore a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry for a good book any day!

I am headed back to school this month and I am already mourning the reading time I will be giving up. But, you know what? It’s all in the name of turning my reading passion into a professional passion! Over the next several months, I will be recommending books to Mama Bear readers by category. My first recommendations will be based on my 2016 reading alone, but future months may include recommendations from my 2017 reading as well. I hope you find my recommendations helpful. Let’s ease into 2017 with some general fiction, juvenile fiction, and young adult fiction. Next month, we’ll tackle recommendations for books about race.

Happy Reading!

General Fiction

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: Friendship, faith struggles, and lots of political commentary. I had no idea how relevant Ronald Reagan’s presidency would feel today.

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan: A survivalist, her trans daughter and their new neighbor preparing for a coming ice age could be very dark, but was beautiful, heart-wrenching and funny with a healthy dose of swearing.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: A story of a new love at a point in life when both characters thought they were well past the possibility.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss: The translation of a book called The History of Love brings three story lines together beautifully in the end.

Be Frank with Me by Julie Claiborne Johnson: Frank is a sweet and shining star in this book. He is clearly on the autism spectrum and this book definitely puts a happy face on the issue, which is probably a shortcoming, but I loved him so much that I couldn’t help but love this book anyway.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Old people finding love through a shared love of literature. Sign me up!

Young Adult

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: A beautiful story of a boy struggling with his mother’s illness and his pending grief.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: A sweet and innocent college romance for the inexperienced and scared in all of us.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden: Written in 1982, but still relevant today for any teen struggling with their sexuality.

Juvenile Fiction

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan: Set during WWII, a harmonica travels from a German boy to an orphan boy in Pennsylvania to a Mexican-American girl in California during the Japanese internment. Beautiful.

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier: Sophie is living during a “war on culture” and she must rely on a cast of magical characters to rescue four books in order to save all the rest of the world’s stories. This is the second in a series, but can probably stand on it’s own and even better than the first book.


Lindsey Sinnwell is a married mother of four living in the suburbs in Iowa and will be contributing a monthly literary reflection on the Mama Bear Blog. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, she is returning to her alma mater to pursue her teaching certification in English. She is much cooler than she sounds and is always looking for new book-loving friends. You can find her on Instagram at @mrssinnwellreads.