Celebrating 20 Years of Sonderbooks: Favorites from 2017

As of this month, I’ve been writing Sonderbooks for 20 years!

To celebrate, I’m going through my Sonderbooks Stand-outs posts from each year and highlighting my favorite books.

Today we’ll cover 2017 Sonderbooks Stand-outs. A quick glance tells me this is going to take a while! Is this because I still remember them or simply because I read many great books that year? I’m not sure, but here are some I can’t resist mentioning:

For Grown-Ups

While Beauty Slept, by Elizabeth Blackwell

A retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, told by a servant in the castle, who saw all the events take place.

Angels in My Hair: The True Story of a Modern-Day Irish Mystic, by Lorna Byrne

All her life, Lorna Byrne has been able to see angels and talk with them. She tells her story, and what angels would like to say to us. A lovely message.

Flames of Love, by Heath Bradley

A strong scriptural defense of Universalism, the teaching that all will (eventually) be saved.

A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, by Bradley Jersak

Here’s a beautiful book on theology, going deeper into why Christ came and what he told us about God with his life, death, and resurrection. He blasts the notion that God can’t look on sin, because Jesus looked at sinners, saw them, and loved them.

Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I’ve come to love Nadia Bolz-Weber’s writing. She helps you see the image of God in even the most fallible human folks, and she helps you see how much God loves and cares for all of his messy people.

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal, by Jen Waite

A gripping account of the author’s own marriage — which ended up being to a psychopath.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

Hilarious and challenging at the same time, Trevor Noah tells about growing up mixed-race in South Africa under Apartheid. The audiobook is extra good with the author telling the stories.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Shetterly

The true story of black women excelling in mathematics that I wish I’d known about back in my college days when I knew few other female math students.

For Teens

Landscape with Invisible Hand, by M. T. Anderson

Brilliant, pointed social commentary (again!) by M. T. Anderson. This book takes place after aliens have come to earth and offered us their advanced technology. The trouble is — only those who afford it can use it. The humans who can’t afford it are basically left to starve. Teenage Adam has found an innovative way around the problem, but he’s running into problems.

Thick As Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner

The much-awaited fifth book in the Queen’s Thief series. This one follows the adventures of Kamet, Nahuseresh’s most important slave, as he tries to escape the Mede empire with the help of an Attolian.

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

The beginning of an amazing trilogy. Mankind has defeated death. We’re overseen by a wise and powerful artificial intelligence that’s so much beyond the Cloud, it’s called the Thunderhead. But the earth will become overpopulated if people live forever, and we didn’t want to entrust that to a machine. So a brotherhood of Scythes was chosen to select and Reap people periodically. Two teens are chosen to join this brotherhood, at the same time that a new, disturbing faction is developing.

Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

The first half of a mesmerizing duology about a lost city and magical children and meeting someone in a lucid dream.

For Children

The Empty Grave, by Jonathan Stroud

The culmination of the Lockwood & Co. series — fighting ghosts in London and those who caused the problem in the first place.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz

A sweet beginning reader about a princess who lets a crocodile take her place while she runs out and plays.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis

A dragon gets discovers chocolate and gets tricked and turned into a human. But she still has her love of chocolate!

Real Friends: A True Story About Cool Kids and Crybabies, by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

A graphic novel memoir about growing up, going to school, and all the intricacies of making friends.

March, Book Three, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

This multiple-award-winning graphic novel is the culmination of the story of the Civil Rights Movement, as witnessed by John Lewis.

Your Presidential Fantasy Dream Team, by Daniel O’Brien, illustrations by Winston Rowntree

This very silly book teaches lots of interesting facts about the presidents by taking the approach of preparing for an alien invasion. If aliens attacked, and you got to pick a team of past presidents to help you defeat them, who would you pick? A silly approach to their strengths and weaknesses. Only dead presidents were included, though, so there was no modern-day commentary.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

This picture book gives us a modern fable about refusing to bow when powerful forces try to silence us.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt, pictures by Adam Rex

A very silly picture book telling us how the popular game got started. This one begs to be read aloud in your best announcer voice. Too much fun!

And be sure to check the 2017 Sonderbooks Stand-outs page for more wonderful books to catch if you haven’t seen them yet.

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