A “shelf evaluation” seems to be the kind of thing nerdy book lovers enjoy – getting to talk about their books. I saw other book sites and blogs do these, and I thought it would be a fun exercise for the Not Your Relief Society Book Club community! What I have featured here is a portion of my “church books” shelf, books related to religion and Mormonism. (Being a former bookseller, I tend to shelve my books by genre.) So let’s give this a try!
Starting on the far left, you will see my copy of Daughters in My Kingdom with The Beginning of Better Days barely making the frame. I devoured both books when they became available, and my DIMK is looking a little worn with Post-It’s stuck in it from when I’ve prepared talks and lessons. I’m delighted with the renewed interest in the history of the Relief Society, and I’ve made it a mini mission of mine to encourage all women in the church to learn more about the organization of the Third Hour they attend. It’s followed by Sheri Dew’s Women and the Priesthood and Neylan McBain’s Women At Church. If you’re interested in learning more about the experience of women in the LDS church, these are also required reading. Both tackle similar issues from different angles, and both offer invaluable advice and encouragement. I definitely took a pencil to both of them.
Moving on you’ll see my copies of Ty Mansfield’s In Quiet Desperation (co-written with Fred and Marilyn Matis), and Voice(s) of Hope, followed by Carol Lynn Pearson’s The Hero’s Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon. LGBTQ issues in the Church have become very personal to me, and Mansfield’s books especially helped me to view my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in a much more sympathetic light, and bring me a lot of peace on the topic. If you’re in a leadership position at church, Mansfield’s books are a good starting point if you’re learning more about this complex issue in our faith today.
Next up a church classic – Neal A. Maxwell’s All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience. I had a friend on Twitter mention this book a number of years ago. She read it, loved it, and experienced it again as an audiobook. Any time I get that kind of a hearty book recommendation from someone I enjoy conversing with, I take note. It took me some time to work through the book, as I liked to take it in small chunks to ponder, but well worth the effort. The slim Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam Miller next to it was a BIG DEAL on the Bloggernacle and Twitterstake when it came out, so I was sure to grab a copy as soon as it came out. It’s short, but packs a big punch discussing basic topics in Mormonism. Next to that is Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons by the famed Sistas in Zion Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith. At the time of this blog post I have unfortunately been unable to read it just yet, but I am so looking forward to the experience! I purchased this as Time Out For Women after hearing them speak. Awesome ladies!! And after the Sistas is Planted by Patrick Q. Mason, which I reviewed a few months back.
A few familiar-looking titles follow: a Missionary Reference Library copy of LeGrand Richards’ A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, which I purchased thinking I would hardcore study it, which I have yet to do; a leather bound copy of The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, also purchased with intent to hardcore study which I have yet to do – but I have used it to look up references from other sources; a copy of The Book of Mormon that I studied out of in 2012 and keep it in a prominent place because it means a lot to me; and a leather bound copy of James E. Talmadge’s Jesus the Christ which was a Christmas gift from my father a few years ago. It’s a difficult book to get through to be sure, which is why I have the Jesus the Christ Study Guide right next to it. (If you’re a single gal like myself, with no family around and precious few LDS members in the area, this makes for good material to do your own Family Home Evening!)
Up next: my buddy Russell Stevenson’s latest book For the Cause of Righteousness, about blacks and Mormonism. A fabulous overview of the history, and an enjoyable read at that. Dude won an award from the Mormon History Association for it! A must read for Mormon history nerds to be sure. And then I have another Patrick Mason book, The Mormon Menace, about Mormons in the postbellum South. Being a Southerner by adoption, I have some interest in this topic. Southerners didn’t particularly like Mormons, and even when I was in college in Georgia a decade or so ago I had a few people tell me to watch out for the Baptists. Turns out there’s a monument to Joseph Standing, a missionary killed by a mob in 1879, about an hour north of me. Go figure!
For the memoirs next on my shelf, some folks tend to have strong feelings one way or the other with these ladies. Elna Baker’s The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance made quite a splash when it was published a few years back, and though the author is no longer active in the faith, it still makes for a very entertaining read that us single Mormons will totally identify with. Like, it’s sadly eerie how much of a kindred YSA spirit she is. And I’ve got two copies of Joanna Brooks’ memoir The Book of Mormon Girl – one was the indie publishing version, and the other when it was picked up by Simon & Schuster and she added a bonus chapter. (Occasionally I’m a bit of a book collecting nerd.) You may not agree with Brooks’ politics, but dang it the woman can write, and she recounts the kind of charmed “Utah Mormon” childhood I think many of you will identify with.
And to end this shelf evaluation, the three volumes I have with their spines up are three 1970s/80s collections of Calvin Grondahl cartoons. My parents had these same three volumes (Sunday’s Foyer, Marketing Precedes the Miracle, and Freeway to Perfection) when we were kids, and my sister and I thought they were HILARIOUS. So I had to procure my own copies later on.
Thanks for reading this Shelf Evaluation all the way to the end! Kudos! Any of these on your shelf?