It is before Thanksgiving, I know. Nevertheless, the time has once again come to consider our relations and judge among them who will receive something cool and who will receive n’importe quoi.
Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament (Deseret Book, 2009), $41.36
The Harper Collins Study Bible (HarperOne, 2006), $26.69
The Old Testament, has it been four years already? Perhaps the least favorite quartile of our Gospel Doctrine regimen. I am certainly not alone in my general ignorance of the Jewish Bible. Deseret Book has a strong offering for those interested in gaining some context in Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament. Kevin and Ben’s reviews highlight the benefits many will find in its pages. People in the know, however, insist that getting a high quality study Bible is essential. I’m told that Harper Collins’ is the best around. Don’t worry about it being a different translation; it will certainly help you (and the Relief Society used a similar contemporary volume for study from 1942-1944).
When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought (Oxford University Press, 2009), $21.56
The Ten Lost Tribes: A World History (Oxford University Press, 2009), 23.96
Perhaps with your helping of ancient near east you might also be interested in histories of ideas that we generally think came from that context. Givens is a Mormon author extraordinaire, but in his volume on the pre-mortal life, he peers across cultures and times to view the evolution of what many view to be something particularly Mormon. Zvi Ben-Dor Benite gives us a world history of the Lost Ten Tribes. Mormon Israelism is peculiar, to be sure, but this fine study is a nice introduction to the broader context of the history and myth of the exiles (SPOILER: they are not at the North Pole).
The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood, and Self-Discovery (GPP Life, 2009), $16.47
Many of us know and love Kathryn. Her memoir is a moving look into her life with her trisomic son. Many reviewers have lauded this book (e.g., see here). This is one that could easily be welcomed by those who aren’t Mormon.
Mormon Passage of George D. Watt: First British Convert, Scribe for Zion (Utah State University Press, 2009) $39.95
Biographies are an important genre and this year Ron Watt’s biography is an important contribution to that genre. I have repeatedly recommended Ron’s article in Utah Historical Quarterly on the Journal of Discourses as essential reading and this book should be equally so. Beyond the titular attributes, George Watt was a key recorder of sermons in early Utah and was involved in fun projects such as the development of the Deseret Alphabet. This book doesn’t come out until the second week in December and we should have a review up early next year. Another must-have with a slight possibility of release before Christmas is Mark Staker’s long awaited volume (keep a look-out Santa).
The Tree House (Zerahemla Books, 2009), $14.92
I don't read a lot of fiction, but Doug Thayer’s novel comes highly recommended by Margaret Blaire Young, who is to be trusted. Mormon fiction that isn’t crap. How about that?
BYU Studies, 1 year for $25
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon thought, 1 year for $37
Journal of Mormon History, 1 year for $45
Why yes, this is the third year recommending these subscriptions. People like to get them. Both BYU Studies and Dialogue are general Mormon Studies publications. You’ll find a little bit of everything (though Dialogue also has regular fiction). The JMH is not a subscription, per se. It is actually a membership to the Mormon History Association which comes with a year’s worth of journal and a regular newsletter. It is strait up Mormon History, as the name implies. They are all quarterly, but BYU Studies is typically significantly less pages than the other two. You can also purchase single issues from the respective websites.
Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry (BYU Studies/University of Utah Press, 2009), $44.95
Post-Manifesto Polygamy: The 1899 to 1904 Correspondence of Helen, Owen and Avery Woodruff (Utah State University Press, 2009), $26.56
On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1889 [Paperback] (University of Utah Press, 2009), $30.36
These next two groupings of books are primary sources. Essentially specialty volumes, these books can also be engaging for the average reader under the correct circumstances. Derr and Davidson’s complete volume of Eliza R. Snow’s poetry is a substantive compilation (almost 1,400 pages!) that gives unprecedented access to Zion’s poetess. Derr was kind enough to answer some questions about the volume here and here. USU’s publication of the Woodruffs’ correspondence is short but extraordinary. Owen was an apostle who married a second wife after the 1890 manifesto. These are the letters between husband and spouses. Lastly, UU Press has recently made available the diaries of Hosea Stout in paperback. Previously published in 1964 and 1982, Stout’s diaries are an important account of late Nauvoo, the trail West, and early Utah. Used copies typically sell in the hundreds, so this is a great way for more of us to get access.
Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Manuscript Revelation Books (Church Historians Press, 2009), $89.95
The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Yale University Press, 2009), $23.10
The hardcore researcher or perhaps the vain will certainly want a copy of the most recent volume from the Joseph Smith Papers Project: the Manuscript Revelation Books (see review here). The perhaps high price for a book is actually very low for the quantity and quality of materials it contains. Also out this year is the fruits of Royal Skousen’s meticulous years (decades?) of work with the Book of Mormon. I’m looking forward to the reviews, but I have enjoyed reading through what is perhaps our closest approach to the words as they flowed from the Prophet’s lips.
The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, $21.57
If the Joseph Smith Papers Project made a cook book, this would be it. These guys make the best food ever.