Stop Reading Blogs!!

I am about to be arrogant, condescending, and fuddy-duddy at the same time.

You young whippersnappers need to stop reading blogs and read some books. Seriously. It’s fine to have an opinion, but you should probably keep it to yourself unless it is at least a minimally informed opinion. Here’s your summer reading list–what I consider the absolute minimum preparation for reasonably well-informed discussion of Mormonism. Don’t talk on blogs until you’ve finished it.

All four of the standard works and at least one good commentary on each. At least one Bible commentary you choose must be written by a non-Mormon. It goes without saying that you will have thoroughly read the conference issues of the Ensign for at least the last 5 years.

Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (bonus points for reading Rough Stone Rolling instead)
Leonard Arrington, The Mormon Experience
Jan Shipps, Mormonism
Anderson & Beecher, Sisters in Spirit and/or Claudia Bushman et al., Mormon Sisters
Thomas Alexander, Mormonism in Transition and/or Armand Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive

There are lots and lots more you can read for extra credit, but you will be allowed to speak in class after finishing the above.

That is all. You are dismissed to the library.


  1. Oh Yay!! I was wondering what I should be doing with my summer- if you will come watch the Monkeys, K, I will begin reading.

    Although I’m not sure I count as a whippersnapper- I think Evans and I are the same age!

  2. Kristine says:

    Tracy, that still makes you a whippersnapper to me! I am verily ancient in blog years. Also, I had no friends in jr. high, so I got a head start on reading :)

  3. If you really want to read the Bible, please choose a modern translation. Buy the NRSV Harper Collins Study Bible. It incorporates a good-but-brief footnote commentary. Then buy this.

    For $35, and a summer of reading, you will become a Bible genius.

  4. I would add, in addition, Sterling McMurrin’s “Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion”, and a book of personal essays, such as England’s “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel”, or “A Thoughtful Faith”, Barlow, et al.

  5. If I stop reading blogs, I’m definitely not replacing them with Mormon books. Maybe I’d start the Harry Potter series, or maybe watch more TV.

  6. Can I issue reading edicts, too? Remedial education about the mainstream story of the church is all well and good — but ordering people to read only that perpetuates the distortions we’ve all long been guilty of. How about requiring at least one book specifically on non-U.S. Mormonism. Mormon history is not mainly the history of the U.S. church. It only looks that way from the top. But a majority of the Saints who crossed to Utah weren’t from the U.S. A majority of Saints today aren’t in the U.S. The time is not far distant when over half of the people who have ever been Mormon will not have been American. So let’s do look further, shall we? A good idea here would be F. Lamond Tullis, Mormons in Mexico: The Dynamics of Faith and Culture. Or James B. Allen and Thomas G. Alexander, eds. Manchester Mormons. There are others. Find the regions you’re interested in and read stuff from the bibliography pages here, which are pretty good. You don’t have to read everything; just read something. Let’s get our intellectual passports stamped!

    (p.s. Unlike Kristine, I will talk to you even if you don’t obey my edicts.)

  7. Kristine says:

    Kevin, I left McMurrin out on purpose. I’m an opinionated snot like that. Both of the essay collections you mention are great, and I’d put some Lowell Bennion in there too. But those are fun, and I was channeling my inner sadistic pedant :)

  8. kevinf, I think McMurrin’s book is mainly good if you want a basic introduction to the theology of other religions; I find his view of Mormonism both stubborn and somewhat idiosyncratic. I think Douglass Davies does a better job on presenting our theology, really.

  9. Kristine says:

    Thanks for the corrective, and the link, RT!

  10. A while back, I had wrote a post on what four books you should start with. I gave these:

    In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, by Todd Compton (1997).

    Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930, by Thomas Alexander (1986).

    David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, by Gregory Prince & Wm Robert Wright (2005).

    Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood, by Gregory Prince (1995).

    I still think this is a decent list (though not without its problems). I think such a list might be better served with a decent general history like, The Story of the Later-day Saints or Mormon Experience. I also think there is a unique perspective to be had from reading primary materials, so maybe a diary might be good (Patty Sessions, Brigham Young, Helen Kimball, Joseph Smith, etc.).

  11. What if I’ve read most of those and still make stupid comments on the blogs?

    If only there were some mild barley bev to make me feel better.

  12. Kristine says:

    Stapley, no way do you *start* with Compton on LDS women. And I’d grant you the DoM bio., maybe instead of Alexander or Mauss, but not Power from on High (although it’s great, I wouldn’t put it in the canon of bare essentials).

  13. Kristine says:

    Amri, that’s ok.

    Personally, I like to think of myself as reasonably-well-informed-but-not-natively-clever. That’s the current excuse, anyway :)

  14. Kristine,

    You might mention that some other blog regularly posts discussions about essential Mormon texts.

    Also, Women and Authority should be another and/or candidate for the Token Book Slot for Women. (At least, until Stapley proves it all wrong.) And New Mormon History is a good one as well — lots of useful essays.

    Also, All Abraham’s Children or Neither White Nor Black might merit another bullet point. (And/or Bringhurst, but it’s unlikely that a beginner will have access to Bringhurst.)

  15. Kristine, the reason for Power from on High is that I wanted a book that covered Mormon development of authority, temple worship and ordinances. This was the most difficult to choose. While it does not have the best treatments of every specific topic, it does brush over most. I don’t think it is the perfect volume as I think there are some analytical problems, but it is still an important work.

  16. Let me second All Abraham’s Children. One of my favorite books on Mormonism.

  17. Thomas Parkin says:

    #5. Me, too. TV.

    Here are some of my recs. Your experience might be enhanced by getting some good bittorrent software.

    Lost was especially good the last half of this last season. Wait till February for more? That’s sadistic.

    I really adore Friday Night Lights – I’m about six episodes into season 1.

    And my wife recently got hooked on Carnivale and her description of it has me thinking I might take it on, too.

    Unfortunately pc games seem to be nearing the end of thier rope. They are pretty much invariably slight variations on previously succesful formulas, and the Sims.

    As for books, if you really feel that you must be reading books, I bought the DoM book recommended by Mr Stapley while I was bored in SLC last Friday and read it in about three sittings. Good stuff.


  18. JNS,

    One of the useful things from McMurrin’s work, as you suggested, is learning what we DON”T believe, which was helpful to me a number of years back. Been a while since I read him, so maybe I should reread, and take a look at Davies as well.

  19. Another good primer would be, well, one of the primers– Gospel Essentials or True to the Faith.

  20. #17 Carnivale is amazing. It was such a disappointment that HBO canceled it after two seasons.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    I agree with Kristine’s list and also with the general proposition that if you want to know what you’re talking about, it takes some study — just like in any field. Mormonism is tricky stuff because our lay clergy and the immediacy of our spiritual experiences causes us to believe that there’s no purpose to study. Not so.

    Alternatively, I suggest the following four books for the summer, which will also give you valuable insights:

    Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
    Alan Moore, Watchmen
    Willa Cather, My Antonia
    Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

  22. Once I wrote a few paragraphs that I was somewhat proud of and turned them into a blog post. Later the same day I found that the same topic had been treated in great detail and with far greater understanding 25 years earlier in a lengthy Dialogue article. I certainly hope I’m not the only one around here who has experienced that sort of acute embarassment. Anyone? Anyone?

    The back issues of Dialogue, BYU Studies, and Sunstone really are informative and worthwhile.

  23. Gee Kristine, like – real books? Well….can’t someone just tell us what those books are about, or throw it over to our Ipods or something?

    BTW, for breadth and to increase understanding, wouldn’t you add an opposing view as well?

  24. MikeInWeHo says:

    The Corrections is just wonderful. I’m with Steve on this one.

  25. I totally agree with Steve, although, if you can’t go beyond the bite-sized, read Chabon’s The Final Solution, a novella originally published in the Paris Review. I finished it in one day’s bus commute, which is quicker than some posts on SSM or grad students on welfare.

  26. adcama, an opposing view of what? Do you mean something by Fawn Brodie or Will Bagley or something?

  27. Adcama,

    Opposing, as in — what? What exactly is an opposing view to Bushman or Arrington?

    Maybe Mormonism Unvailed, I suppose, or the Tanners Reality or Shadow. But I really doubt that Kristine is going to recommend those.

  28. Following on Frank #19, those two specific books are elementary to the point of serious distortion. But I think the basic impulse to provide something at more of a beginner’s level is good. And, seriously, you could do a lot worse at that level than Reiss and Bigelow’s Mormonism for Dummies volume.

  29. Was thinking Brodie or Palmer…

  30. StillConfused says:

    By Common Consent IS a standard work!!!!

  31. Kristine, in my haste to make additions, I forgot to say “Good list” and well worth considering.

    As to making informed comments in the bloggernacle, well, it is after all, the internet. And it’s such good sport to watch the well read harpoon the slow movers and easy targets. What’s that sharp pain in my side?

  32. If we’re actually going to replace blogging time with something else I’d suggest we do a little more service to others and a little less to ourselves.

  33. I’m with Tom. If I stopped reading blog you can pretty assured my nose wouldn’t be in mormon books.

  34. Steve Evans says:

    Oh shut up rusty.

    There’s one on every thread…

  35. JNS,

    I don’t know what you have in mind by serious distortion, but the reason I suggest those over some privately produced primer is because they are printed by the Church, letting the Church, in some sense, speak for itself– something you do not get from Mormonism for Dummies.

    You do get this from the Standard Works and, to a large extent, from the Conference talks Kristine mentioned. The fact that these books are simple makes them a quick and easy read and they cover a wide variety of important topics succinctly.

  36. And, by the way, the new animation when adding comments is really slick.

  37. Steve,
    HA! Yeah, my comment is pretty self-righteous isn’t it? Awesome.

  38. Steve Evans says:

    Rusty, it was perfect.

  39. Kristine says:

    Frank, I think those books are great for giving people the basics of what they need to know to understand other things one learns at church, to participate in Sunday School, etc. But bloggernacle discussions tend to assume/require a somewhat larger knowledge base to be productive, and I think blogs would be more interesting if people did a little more homework.

  40. Steve Evans says:

    Kristine, I’m trying to decide whether your post is more arrogant, condescending or fuddy-duddy. Help me out here.

  41. I think the missionary library is a great collection of books to read as well. Jesus The Christ is one of my favorites. So is Articles of Faith.

  42. Ryan, you just dated yourself. Articles of Faith is no longer in the missionary library.

  43. Temple Theology by Margaret Barker

    She is not Mormon, and the book is fascinating to read for that reason.

  44. Would it be possible to put these words, in bold, right above the comment box?

    It’s fine to have an opinion, but you should probably keep it to yourself unless it is at least a minimally informed opinion.

  45. Kristine,

    I was not attempting to replace your list. I haven’t read most of those books and so can’t offer comments on their suitability. I was suggesting another very easily accessible text. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, a lot of people don’t even know what the Church actually teaches on many subjects.

    Obviously I would be the last person to disagree that bloggernacle discussions would benefit from more knowledge and less blather. :)

  46. Steve Evans says:

    Actually, although it sounds condescending to say to people, “you have to read X, Y and Z before you can intelligently participate,” I don’t think that’s necessarily unfair. For purposes of historical discussion, for example, knowledge is a simple prerequisite that can’t be avoided. There’s nothing insulting in telling someone to read up on the Civil War before engaging in a thorough discussion of the topic.

    The problem comes in Mormonism, as I’ve said, because we confuse our role as participants with a sense of authority to speak. Being a mormon gives you the right to speak as to your personal experience as a mormon, but little more. If people want to intelligently discuss the history of mormonism or the intellectual underpinnings of certain movements within mormonism, it’s entirely fair to establish a minimal level of study. Any seminar or colloquium would do the same.

  47. Mark IV, you could put that up, if you were a (insert cussword here)head.

  48. MikeInWeHo says:

    My sense is that Kristine doesn’t have the capacity to be arrogant, condescending, or a fuddy-duddy even when she tries. Sorry Kristine, you’ll have to stick with being a humble, self-effacing, and cutting-edge thinker.

  49. Steve Evans says:

    a danghead?

    a horsefeathershead?

    a flubberhead?

    Matt W. you are filthy.

  50. Kristine says:

    “I haven’t read most of those books and so can’t offer comments on their suitability.”

    So, shut up already!!


  51. J. Stapley, the Gregory Prince book has quickly become one of my favorites.

  52. Actually, Kris, let me recommend the following modified suggestion . . .

    First, stop reading blog posts by Steve Evans, Frank McIntyre, or Mark IV. Just stop. Those are pretty well irredeemable, no matter _what_ books you’ve read.

    Second, if you want to read anything _else_ (excluding posts by Wilfried), make sure to read the book list first. . .

  53. But bloggernacle discussions tend to assume/require a somewhat larger knowledge base to be productive . . .

    I would say that only a small fraction of bloggernacle discussions assume/require any kind of knowledge base, and not all that many aim to be productive. Sure, if you want to opine about historical issues you should know what you’re talking about. But most discussions are about stuff that any old Mormon can talk about. It’s socializing more than anything else.

  54. Kaimi,

    First, stop reading blog posts by…Mark IV. Just stop. Those are pretty well irredeemable…

    Actually, irredeemable is to nice a word. I think a better description would be half vast.

    [expletivedeleted]head, aka Mark IV

  55. Frank #35, Mormonism for Dummies is the book the church gives to reporters who are covering Mormonism. Not any of the other manuals, etc. So there’s a clear sense in which that book is perhaps preferred by the church as the educated person’s primer.

    By the way, Gospel Essentials and True to the Faith make fascinating paired reading, due to their many contradictions and differences in focus reflecting the big time gap between their writing. I’d love a careful essay contrasting the two.

  56. Steve Evans says:

    Tom (#53), it’s obvious that you haven’t read up on the topic, so I’m going to disregard your point.

  57. I thought this blogging stuff was mainly a way that people sitting by computers all day with little supervision kill time when they should be working. A series of books on Mormon history and theology sitting open on my desk would be going a little too far.

  58. john scherer says:

    As a convert I find this list intimidating. Between starting late, supporting a family and holding a calling, it appears I’ll never be qualified to have a discussion here.

  59. 58 John Scherer–I think you’re gonna have to quit your calling. It’s the only thing to do in this situation.

    TTTF is painful to me. Like nails on the chalkboard.

  60. john scherer – That’s a good point. Is it reading books that is the qualification to have an educated opinion, or is it pondering aspects of the gospel? Naturally, one should read the scriptures, but it is really necessary to read others’ commentary? (I’m not advocating never reading supplementary books, just that I don’t think reading books is any real indication of spiritual acumen.) I think commentary, etc. should be a tool to help one ponder gospel principles, not a requirement to be considered valid members of a discussion. Just a thought.

  61. john scherer says:

    Great solution!! I’m sure my Branch President would understand. It’s for the greater good, and I’d get to sit with my wife and kids during church again. Yea!

  62. Steve Evans says:


    SilverRain, John Scherer, I think you’re missing the point, which I’ve now tried to articulate twice. When it comes to interpreting the scriptures for personal application, feel free to rely on just your noggin and the Spirit. When it comes to talking about what works in Sacrament Meeting and what doesn’t, ditto. SilverRain is right to point out that book learnin’ isn’t an indicator of spiritual acumen.

    But if you want to talk about church history, or church structure, or the history of women in the church, or geopolitical issues, or trends in membership, or how the Church came to be as it is, or influences on various prominent mormons, or the sources from which Ezra Taft Benson cribbed his talk on pride, pondering just can’t cut it. You HAVE to read up. There is no substitute.

  63. John Scherer, Karistine’s original post is fairly ridiculous. Of course no one should have to read x, y and z before participating in any discussions. My sense, and Kristine can correct me, is that Kristine is showing her frustration of instances when entire discussions and analytical frameworks are proposed as the “Truth” when the participants don’t access the readily available information that would change their propositions.

  64. john scherer says:

    I understand Steve. I just felt like being a pain for a while. I should have attached a goofy smily face after my comment, but this doesn’t seem to be the place for such behavior. I actually appreciate the reading list as I’ve just finished the SWK biographies and RSR.

  65. Steve, stop being such a cattlesnake.

  66. johnscherer, I need another :-) colleague. I don’t have permission to give permission, but I will salute the proper use of one that is well-placed – and avoids the reactions some comments get that should have included one.

  67. john scherer says:

    I just read #60, thanks SilverRain. I do think I agree with the general premise of the post, however. One of best ways this forum has served me is by pointing out topics and books that I may never have found on my own and it only makes sense that you know something about them before commenting. That said, I think most naccle discussuions are of the type that an ignoramous like me can contribute.

  68. john scherer says:


  69. Steve Evans says:

    John S., it’s an expression: “cattlesnakes!”

    See here.

  70. JNS,

    “So there’s a clear sense in which that book is perhaps preferred by the church as the educated person’s primer.”

    Educated non-member person’s primer on “Mormonism as a whole”, sure. But that is not quite the same group as we have here. Also, does the Church list recommended reading somewhere such that you found this out?

    “By the way, Gospel Essentials and True to the Faith make fascinating paired reading, due to their many contradictions and differences in focus reflecting the big time gap between their writing.”

    I guess we should expect at least some changes, what with continuous revelation and all. I’ve noticed that what constitutes “contradiction” in Church doctrine is often in the eye of the beholder. Not always, but too often. Also, part of the shift in focus presumably comes from the fact that the intended audience is a little different. True to the Faith has a decided emphasis on things relevant to youth.

  71. Amri,

    “TTTF is painful to me. Like nails on the chalkboard.”

    It’s the coffee. It makes you edgy. :)

  72. Mark B. says:

    I’m surprised that Steve Evans, being a Canuck and all, has even heard of the Civil War.

    Or was he thinking 1640s, Roundheads and Cavaliers, Cromwell, headless Charles I, etc.?

  73. I always find minimum requirements interesting. What if Kevin B. said “You can’t talk about the Bible on my posts unless you can read Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.”

  74. altar_ego says:

    I can’t resist adding to Ronan’s comment above (#3) on which bibles to buy: The Jewish Study Bible is better in its commentary than the NOAB, IMHO. This is probably because, with less Bible to cover, they can add more commentary and keep the size roughly the same. As for the translation, the JPS translation is no worse than the NRSV or NIV in my experience.

  75. Kevin Barney says:

    Kristine writes:

    It goes without saying that you will have thoroughly read the conference issues of the Ensign for at least the last 5 years.

    Oops, that counts me out. I’m going to have to hang up my commenting spurs.

  76. Steve Evans says:

    Mark B., take your pick as to which Civil War.

  77. This post is inspiring me to write my long-planned treatise on my general unfitness to be a Mormon intellectual. I have read none of these books cover to cover (I started Sisters in Spirit and even own it, but….) I did read McMurrin cover to cover, long ago as an undergraduate.

    Sorry, but there’s just way too much Utah and Mormon history on that list, unquestionably the most boring kind of history on the planet (and I’m afraid history is already inherently somewhat boring).

    Although this should stop me from blogging, I know myself well enough to confidently assert that it’s not going to.

  78. Good point Frank. Very good point.

  79. Sorry, but there’s just way too much Utah and Mormon history on that list, unquestionably the most boring kind of history on the planet (and I’m afraid history is already inherently somewhat boring).

    Oh, the humanity! Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now….

  80. Justin (#79), you called?

  81. Come on Kristine!

    If you take this away, I’ll have to regress back to playing Starcraft! And my wife simply can’t stand the sound the marines make when they explode…

  82. Justin (#79), you called?

    Yes. Please set Eve straight.

  83. John Williams says:

    I’m reading “A Woman in Charge” by Carl Bernstein. It’s one of the two new biographies of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    The rap on it is that it has nothing new in it, but I am learning a lot and I am enjoying it.

  84. Actually, Justin (and/or Serenity Valley, or anyone else), I’d be really happy to be set straight. I have that guilty, ambivalent distaste for Mormon history that some children do for green foods: I KNOW it’s good for me, I know I SHOULD know it and love it, but…oh, maybe in 2024, I’ll get around to reading some Mormon history, I think wistfully. Surely by then I’ll have that mature, deliberate, thoughtful equanimity and range of knowledge that will allow me to publish a big scholarly article in Dialogue, with hundreds of footnotes.

    But, yeah, in the meantime I’m currently rotting my mind on fiction. Stuff that never even happened. (And I won’t even get into the extreme importance of Harry Potter in my psychological life this summer.)

    There’s just no getting around it: I am, intellectually, a child. ;)

  85. whippersnapper says:

    I read all those books and they’re all crap. I’m gonna write my own!!!

  86. You know, I’ve read some of this stuff on the list, and I probably should read others, but my current reading is Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” (I’ve been a fan for about 8 or 10 years now, read his border trilogy) so I can be properly depressed, and “Warped Passages” by Kris Randall, about alternative dimensions, quantum physics, micro black holes, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, so I can be properly uncertain.

    Did I point out that I was a Cormac McCarthy fan before Oprah was?

  87. Jordan F. says:

    What a well-read group you are.

  88. Eric Russell says:

    Are comments by people who have read all the above books any more often correct than the comments of those who haven’t? Someone should do a study that charts the frequency of correct opinions in terms of the number of Important Mormon books they have read to see how much correlation there is. And even then, even if there were a strong correlation, there’s no evidence of causation. Maybe it just so happens that the type of people who choose to read those books happen to be the type of people who have the correct opinions. As such, it’s going to be difficult to prove that reading these books significantly improves our chances of forming correct opinions.

  89. “All four of the standard works …”

    In one summer? What would you hope to get out of such a rapid reading of so much material?

    I think you’re jokin’, right?

  90. Steve Evans says:

    Dan, you’ve never read the standard works?

  91. RE Eric, # 88.

    “Correct opinions” is an interesting phrase. I’ve read about two thirds of this stuff, and I would say that my “opinions” are just as “correct” as anyone else’s. :)

    As to factual accuracy, I repeat my earlier comment: This is the internet, after all.

  92. #62 – You’re right, Steve. It was a bit of a threadjack. Sorry about that. :D (for Ray) You’re entirely correct in saying that one should research a subject before speaking on it. It’s just that with spiritual concepts, scriptural research should be enough. With historical concepts, the scriptures fall quite a bit short.

    Unfortunately, I second the “history is boring” motion. I need an unopinionated Reader’s Digest version of the important points. I admit to reading fantastical trash. Why would I want to read about the real world? I live here, for crying out loud.

  93. Randy B. says:

    I’d like to follow up on Ronan’s comment way back at #3. I have a good handle on Kristine’s list of Mormon history books, but I’m a complete neophyte when it comes to Bible commentary and scholarship. I’m glad for Ronan’s suggestions there.

    Any other thoughts? If you had to pick two or three other key Bible resources, what would they be?

  94. Eric, there appears to be no correlation between being well-read and having correct opinions. I am contantly having to get on here and let the well-read denizens of the bloggernacle know where they have gone wrong. It gets old, believe me, but what are you going to do? Those of us with naturally-occuring correct opinions can’t just keep them all to ourselves! Clearly, some of us are just doomed to lives of selfless public service. It’s our cross to bear.

  95. Steve Evans (24) and MikeInWeHo (26): The Corrections? You’ll have to convince me on that one. I recently wasted a weekend on it.

  96. Steve Evans says:

    Idahospud, there’s no accounting for taste, but it won the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction, was nominated for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award, and was shortlisted for the 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2005 The Corrections was included in Time magazine’s list of the All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels.

  97. Kristine says:

    Steve, awards notwithstanding, it’s mostly oversexed baby-boomer angstiness (albeit with some elegant prose). I’d like back the hours I spent on it, too.

  98. #97 – Sounds like some stuff you’ve read here, John, minus the baby-boomer part? :-)

    See how well they work when used properly?

  99. Steve Evans says:

    et tu, Kristine?

    Ray, move along. Well-read people only.

  100. Gotcha, Steve. Mea culpa. I’m still working on the growing up part. Maybe in a few years when the grandchildren start arriving . . .

  101. Brad Kramer says:

    My recs in the following categories (excluding titles mentioned above):

    Mormon essentials–Nibley’s Approaching Zion and Prophetic Book of Mormon. Givens’ By the Hand of Mormon.

    TV–The Wire. Hands down the best tv I’ve ever seen–better than Lost, Sopranos, West Wing (first four seasons–the series really collapsed on itself after Sorkin’s departure), Big Love, and Twin Peaks. Nothing short of sublime.

    Fiction–Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red and Snow. Andrei Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin. Kenzaburo Oe’s The Silent Cry. Shusaku Endo’s Silence. Amos Oz’s A Perfect Peace. Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy.

    Films–Knocked Up, Children of Men, Princess Mononoke (to name a few great ones I saw recently).

  102. 95: I’m with you: Corrections is terrible. If that’s what American realism has to offer, we better just give up and move on.
    As for Mormon reading, the only Mormon book I’ve ever read twice for pleasure was Phil Barlow’s edited volume, A Thoughtful Faith, though I certainly have looked at individual essays of Eugene England several times.

    I think Jim Allen and Glen Leonard, Story of Latter-day Saints or Arrington and Bitton, Mormon Experience are good places to start for a global view of Mormon history. Laurel Ulrich’s co-written little gem, All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir struck me as an excellent introduction to women in Mormonism.

  103. Steve Evans says:

    You guys are nuts. I suspect you’re just jumping on the bandwagon of Franzen-haters in Oprah’s wake.

  104. The biggest problem with The Corrections is that its author clearly doesn’t know how to properly spell Frandsen.

    You’d think between Rosalynde and Naomi’s blogging, he would have figured it out eventually.

  105. 103: Who’s jumping on the bandwagon? Your comment 96 screams SYNCOPHANT! ;)

  106. Eve (#77), I’m glad you confessed, so that I can say “me too.”

  107. Steve Evans says:

    Idahospud, my comment might scream that, if “syncophant” were a word. heh.

  108. Eric Russell says:

    “there appears to be no correlation between being well-read and having correct opinions.”

    That’s what I lean towards believing myself, MCQ. Nonetheless, it can’t be pure coincidence that Nate Oman has read all the Important Mormon books and that Nate Oman is always right.

  109. Julie M. Smith says:

    ‘All four of the standard works and at least one good commentary on each. ”

    Another option would be to read an entire commentary on *one* OT or NT book. This, of course, won’t give you the breadth of a survey, but it will give you a sense of the depth that is possible. (In other words: at least you will know what you are missing.) Good commentary series include: Anchor Bible Commentary, NICOT, NICNT, Word Biblical Commentary, Greek Testament Commentary, Jewish Publication Society, and anything by Ben Witherington. A lighter-weight series is the New Cambridge.

  110. Nate Oman has read all the Important Mormon books and Nate Oman is always right.

    There is, in actuality, no correlation betwen these two facts. Nate is one of those with natually-occuring correct opinions. I see him at the meetings all the time.

  111. Kevin Barney says:

    If you want a bit of a Mormon spin, you could try my Footnotes to the NT for LDS.

  112. Steve, I would have admired Franzen’s stand if he hadn’t been such a mediocre writer. My problem with Franzen is that it’s neither beautiful nor insightful. I dutifully read the stupid thing because I felt obligated, but at the end, I felt like I had just spent 4 hours in a bar listening to a black-clad New Yorker with a hopelessly self-satisfied expression relate to me various human “foibles” (using that word). You need a real bandwagon, Esquire Evans.

    Not to always be a complainer, I do like the short fiction of Judy Budnitz and Murray Bail, important new(ish) American and Australian magic realists–much better than Garcia Marquez.

  113. Randy B. says:

    Julie & Kevin, any favorite “survey” commentaries on the OT or NT?

  114. #107 ” if syncophant were a word ”

    Aw, cattlesnakes! A pox on my spelling skillz!

    Still, Steve, you haven’t given me YOUR take on why one ought to spend time reading The Corrections.

  115. I’m planning to re-read the Collected Works of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.

  116. Julie M. Smith says:

    Randy B.,

    The thing is: a one-volume is not, in my opinion, a good idea because it must be so superficial. But if you absotively have to:

    OT: Reading the OT by Boadt

    NT: Jesus Christ and the World of the NT (a Deseret Book!)

  117. Thomas Parkin says:

    Comment #114.

    You people must have desk jobs.

    Does your boss know what you do all day? hm?
    Someone needs to add the word “Mormon” to the company Net Nanny.

    *raises eyebrow and looks down moral snoot*


  118. Gavin Guillaume says:

    Some of us have to spend 2 weeks this summer at ***forsaken family reunions where we don’t want to see our families, but we’re obligated because they are things like weddings. Reading is the only salve we have.

  119. Thomas Parkin says:

    Comment #117.

    I thought _I_ was going to be comment #114.


  120. Thomas, I am my boss and I’m a total slavedriver, so if I can’t take a few breaks to read a blog during the day without having me jump down my throat then I’ll just have to tell me to go jump in a lake, and I’ll go find a new place to work.

  121. Thomas Parkin says:


    I’m my own boss, too. And even as I write there are, all about me, eighteen year olds in fear, actually working. I’ve been exercising unrighteous dominion all evening.


    P.S. This post contains enhancements.

  122. a random John says:

    Can I be grandfathered in without completing the list by virtue of the fact that I’ve been reading and commenting on this blog for a really long time?

    Ok, how about because I brought some guacamole and Guarana to Kristine’s house once?

  123. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 97

    “it’s mostly oversexed baby-boomer angstiness (albeit with some elegant prose)…”

    And then you wonder why so many of us loved it????

  124. Ok, how about because I brought some guacamole and Guarana to Kristine’s house once?

    Dude, that just gets you another book added to the list.

  125. Your post is elitest and arrogant. We don’t need so-called Mormon scholars to tell me what to think. We have the words of the prophets and the scriptures. Nothing else required. Byallmeans, read your heart out. But don’t you dare insult people to whom you feel inadequate to discuss certain issues.

  126. arJ,

    Grandfathering in is mostly predicated on agreeing with the person in charge (as it shows your exquisite good taste). Now all you have to do is figure out who is in charge at BCC.

  127. It’s interesting to see the extremes that almost inevitably appear in these discussions. Kind of bolsters both positions simultaneously, which is fascinating to observe, since it is obvious that almost all of us fall at different points in the middle.

    Hey, I just described Church. Cool.

  128. Justin, you must be Bizarro Justin. The real justin is no idiot, unlike yourself.

  129. Steve, I wanted to say that but figured I should resort to careful and diplomatic wording. I’ll get it down eventually.

  130. Please, no one call me Bizarro Kevin. I look awful in tights.

  131. A HC in tights — Now that might liven up the block schedule once a month! (No thread jumping encouraged, says this hypocrite.)

    Kristine, since this particular type of comment doesn’t require any prior study or objectively measurable level of intelligence, how does it fit your recommendation/demand?

  132. Peter LLC says:

    Kristine, since this particular type of comment doesn’t require any prior study or objectively measurable level of intelligence, how does it fit your recommendation/demand?

    Good point, Ray.

    Maybe Kristine could try this idea on for size: Require that all permabloggers cite all the works they considered, referenced, were influenced by when they write a post, then cite them appropriately.

    This way the rabble will 1) be assured that any given permabloggers isn’t simply an arrogant windbag, 2) have a better idea what the heck said permablogger is talking about out of context, 3) know where these innovative and fresh ideas were borrowed and 4) have a ready-made remedial reading list.

    In all seriousness, I do appreciate posts that are footnoted or otherwise referenced. Kevin Barney, for example, does a good job of this.

  133. BTW, I actually like the general principle of the original post – despite its arrogant, condescending, fuddy-duddy construction. I know I don’t like most of the comments I make when they are rushed and not carefully considered.

  134. I have to agree with Justin. This post does come off kind of snobby. This isn’t T and S after all.

  135. Sigh, I’ve been banned from blogging by my number one ‘nacle hero.

    I’m not sure what to say to this, something is off here for me, and I don’t know how or what to say e-actly. I’m sure that reading all the books mentioned here would be a very good thing to do, and I’m all for gettin educated n stuff. But other than having read the BOM quite a few times, I’ve never read any of the rest of these book on these lists cover to cover. Heavens, I’ve not even throughly read this thread. And I do know that I’m woefully ignorant about just about everything.

    While I would never dream to write many of the deep and important and footnoted posts many of you all do so beautifully, I still feel like the process of blogging has been an important education for me, and that I’ve had valuable things to contribute, despite my (vast and limitless) ignorance.

    I’m sure I would be a better blogger after having read more, but I’m a slow reader, and I have a very full life and these books represent years of reading yet to come. (and with so many other good options too) And also, I know how self-conscious and painfully e-posed I feel in my ignorance in your midst, there are so many topics that I feel unworthy to comment on, and embarrassed to ask questions about, or that I just don’t understand at all.

    I know that it must get tiring trying to cope with ignorant ingrates such as I, but still, a person has to start somewhere, the the process is longer and harder for some than others. And for others impossible or simply not withing the realm where interests, needs, and abilities collide.

    I know ya’ll were just having a good-bit of elitist fun. But I do think the ‘nacle it big enough for all kinds of dialogs, to meet variety of needs, for a endless diversity of minds and educations (or lack thereof).

  136. Lisa, with all due respect I think you’re missing the point, as are a large number of commenters. It’s a simple fact that to have an educated opinion on any topic, you have to read up or have direct experience. There is no way around that. Kristine is not saying (though she can correct me if I’m wrong) that unread people need to shut up; she’s saying that before people pontificate on various topics of church history, etc., they would do well to get their facts straight — and that means reading.

    To be honest I don’t really get your comment, except that you’re anti-elitism, which sounds like a good thing to be. But don’t confuse elitism with a desire to be educated.

  137. Peter LLC says:

    I think you’re missing the point, as are a large number of commenters.

    Speaking of missing the point, it should be clear that there is a “core” group of bloggers who like to talk to themselves and either ignore or tell the uninitiated to shut up (your words?) more often than not. So with Kristine preaching to the choir, does it even matter if the unwashed masses “get it”?

    I mean, I know how cool it is to have a shared language and be able to pick up what others are putting down all fluent-like, and I also can feel with every fiber of my being how lame it is when opinionated blowhards show up and spoil the party, but it seems to me that this is the price of fame. The ‘nacle gets a fair share of readers and not all of them are going to be from the in crowd.

    So go easy on those who might consider attempts to elevate the discourse a crude display of strong-armed thuggery. They know not what they do.

  138. Peter, where are you getting this cynical tone? Your comment has little to do with Kristine’s post, and instead reads like you have a major chip on your shoulder. I’m confused by what you meant or what you were trying to accomplish in your comment. Can you explain?

  139. “Here’s your summer reading list–what I consider the absolute minimum preparation for reasonably well-informed discussion of Mormonism. Don’t talk on blogs until you’ve finished it.”

    Again, good elitist fun. But just to begin, I could maybe finish one of those book over “the summer”. If I try really hard. Something that seems so easy to you makes me feel teary and stomach achy at the mere thought. Even without many clingy kids, I couldn’t just read these book, viola, over the summer. Reading a book like that is a huge commitment of time energy and resources for me.

    Second, I’ve been running a rather good blog for three years now, and we’ve had many diverse “reasonably well-informed” discussions, and I have never met the “absolute minimum” standard. Clearly there must be more to it.

    Again, I’m not saying reading these books is a bad idea. I think it’s a very good idea. I think being educated and the desire to be educated and having the discipline to educate yourself are all wonderful things. BUT, I think implying that discussions by and for people with less educational time/aptitude/ability/opportunity is somehow inherently less legitimate/valuable, than the rarefied air you erudite types occupy is wrong headed. possibly even damaging.

  140. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Maybe it’s the tights forcing all the blood to my brain, but I took Kristine’s post as a gentle reminder that we are all still learners, and also tongue-in-cheek poking fun at ourselves for our “correct opinions”.

    Are we really this humorless?

    There is something in our culture that lends itself to a surety of the things we “know” regardless of how the rest of the world sees us. There are lots of things I “know”, but of one thing I am sure. I am not as well read as Kevin Barney (aka, SuperKevin) on many of these topics, yet I suspect I am better read on others.

    Now back to the library, look up the definition of irony, and submit your written essays, with footnotes and bibliography.

  141. Lisa, your site is rather good, isn’t it?

    But how are your “reasonably well-informed” discussions well-informed? What is the source of their information? May I suggest that at some point you’ve read up on the topics you’re discussing? How else would you be well-informed?

    Look, I didn’t write Kristine’s post; I think a lot of her tone in there was trying to be tongue-in-cheek; but it is not elitism to say that people should read up on topics before pontificating. Do you disagree?

  142. Bizarro Kevin, I like your new moniker a lot.

  143. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Steve, if Superman had an alter ego in clueless, bumbling Clark Kent, was Bizarro’s alter ego well read, intelligent, handsome, and a chick magnet?

  144. BK, yes. I can’t believe I know the answer to this. Bizarro Kent was his alter ego, but naturally everyone on Bizarro World knew his identity.

  145. There was also, in addition to Bizarro Superman, a Batzarro.

  146. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    For all who were put off by Kristine’s post and it’s “elitism”, or the comments in the thread, let me share a few serious thoughts.

    There are a lot of accomplished, intelligent people on this blog. There are also a lot of average, struggling, normal people here as well. I’m impressed with the credentials of many of the contributors here, and not just because of their scholarly achievements. I like thoughtful discussion and discourse, as a means of sorting out my own thoughts, investigating new areas, and generally trying to understand my relationship to my Father in Heaven better, and being a better disciple of Christ.

    Just so you don’t feel intimidated, I graduated 167th out of 497 kids in my high school class, took five years to get through four years of college at Weber State, not exactly the Harvard of the West, stumbled into jobs in the high tech sector, and professionally have lived up to my potential maybe only 5 or 6 years of my adult life (I’m in my fifties). My GPA was like 2.9 the first three years of college, then jumped to 3.4 the two years after I got married. My wife likes to point out that hers went from a 3.8 to a 3.5, so we all know who was contributing more to the marriage. I read too much science fiction and trashy fiction, laced with the occasional good stuff, have a huge list of good things I haven’t read, have read a few good things, but I am not an intellectual giant, nor do I excel at one of my favorite hobbies, playing blues guitar. In fact, my life is one long stretch of mediocrity, punctuated by the occasional good choice (ie, marrying my wife) and all too frequent bad choice (going to see the movie Starship Troopers with 3 of my sons, all teenagers at the time).

    Anybody feel better?

  147. Bizarro Kevin (aka kevinf) says:

    Steve, I didn’t know about Batzarro. I kneel in the presence of your astonishing intellect.

  148. Randy B, #93-

    If you had to pick two or three other key Bible resources, what would they be?

    This list
    may be a little larger than what your looking for.

  149. Good advice.

  150. #146 – Actually, Kevin, I do. Thanks!

  151. One of my intellectual claims to fame is that I scored a 5 on the AP English Exam, while my husband scored a 4 – and he attended the Harvard of the East. :-)

  152. I like Bizarro Jerry. Bizarro Justin and I don’t get along.

  153. Kristine says:

    Lisa, I like your blog, and I like you even more, but part of what I’m getting at is that we waste a lot of time on blogs going over and over stuff that has already been carefully thought through and articulated by other people. FMH* is great, but I get frustrated when people go back and forth over simple matters of fact that could be checked in 10 minutes, or rehash arguments that are 20 years old in the sometimes painfully, um, casual prose that is the vernacular of off-the-cuff blog comments. Reading 250 comments is an extremely inefficient mechanism for informing oneself about a given issue. In the time it takes to do that, you can be halfway through a journal article or book chapter. (Or, I guess, if you’re a slow reader, a quarter of one).

    I think (I hope, anyway) that my impulse is not fundamentally elitist. I derive a great deal of pleasure from learning from people who are smarter and better-informed than I am (which, luckily for me, is an enormous number of folks!), and in saying, “here, read this!” I’m mostly wanting to share the fun. Really.

    And I was also kidding! I really, really need to work on my online persona if people find it possible to believe I could seriously be that snotty. Of course (!) people should make whatever comments they want. As someone pointed out, we are mostly just socializing. I’m pretty sure I’ve never written a post that requires any special expertise to respond to. But sometimes there are issues it’s just easier to talk about if everybody has laid the groundwork.

    *before anyone freaks out–FMH is not the only offender, or the worst; I’m just using it as an example since I’m responding to Lisa

  154. I knew you were kidding, and I know you are not a snot. I guess I’m just sensitive to the idea that we should limit conversations to worthy smarty-pants types.

    I do know what you mean, but in some sense, there are almost never new ideas, just rehashing of the old ones. No matter what the forum. I get that very often better information and better conversations would take place if we all had a minimal level of basic knowledge about a subject. Heck, we dilettantes at fMh even limited discussion on the last book group to people who’d actually read the book (imagine!)

    I agree that the rehashing can be tiresome, but I also think it’s part and parcel of this whole blogging thing. The argument may be twenty years old, but when it’s new to you, a person still wants to hash it out, and that can’t happen by reading a twenty-year-old painfully, um, formal paper in corner by your lonesome. Which isn’t what you were advocating necessarily. I’m just saying.

    I guess I just worry that people who are already intimidated by all you Ivy league intellectuals will run away in fear thinking that their own opinions aren’t valid because they haven’t read Numbers in Hebrew seventeen times.

  155. Kristine says:

    they haven’t read Numbers in Hebrew seventeen times.

    Do they let those people have computers??!

  156. Eric Russell says:

    Spackman has a computer.

  157. @150 –

    I didn’t bother with AP English — they read boring books. I had to content myself instead with my dual 5s on the two AP Computer Science exams and my 5 on Calculus and my 4 in AP US History (but my English-teaching relatives still bemoan the fact I didn’t do AP English).

    I didn’t get to read all the boring books in AP English — I took World Literature instead (the class for us non-AP dummies) and got to read Chekov and Nabakov and Garcia Marquez instead.

    Of course, now that I know several Harvard graduates in person, I feel MUCH better about my BYU degrees.

  158. Or Nabokov, even. Silly me.

  159. AP Computer Science?! Now I REALLY feel old!

  160. John Williams says:

    queuno, OK you got a 5 on the Calculus exam, but was it the AB (easy) one or the BC (hard) one?

  161. AP US History was lame. The real history students took AP European.

  162. John Williams says:


    On the Internet, genius is measured by unique visitors.

  163. Kristine says:

    Well, hey, since everyone is listing accomplishments, I’m feeling really guilty that I’ve been boasting falsely for a couple of years now. Maybe this is a good time to come clean–the bio for me on the sidebar was completely made up by JN-S. I’ve never been on a mountain bike, nor do I wear my hair in pigtails. I do have a lot of cousins, though.

  164. I’ve long thought your resemblance to Hana Fiserova was uncanny.

  165. I’m woefully deficient in my consumption to date of that reading list, but not, I’m happy to say, in elitism or self-assurance. However, instead of diligently beavering away at that list this summer (though there are one or two I did have in my queue), I want to propose a list of my own. These are the books one should read before opining in any way on the origins or meaning or purpose of the universe, of intelligence, of humanity, and of the meaning of meaning. It makes no sense to ponder or discuss these questions if you don’t have at least a nodding familiarity with human knowledge on the subjects to date. If you don’t, then your time would be much more fruitfully spent acquiring it.

    Richard Feynman’s “The Character of Physical Law” and “QED, the strange theory of light and matter” – a description of what science is about, for the intelligent layman.

    Douglas R. Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid” – explicates ideas from DNA, artificial intelligence, and mathematics that turn out to be different expressions of this single concept of “strange loopiness” which underlies many disparate features of existence.

    Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” – a good overview of the physical universe, and our place in it.

    Stephen Jay Gould’s “Ever Since Darwin”, “The Panda’s Thumb”, “The Mismeasure of Man”, “Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes”, and “Wonderful Life”. These collectively are not only delicious and fascinating to read, but convey a deep understanding of the connectedness of all life on earth, and the origins of humanity, as well as the science of evolutionary biology. How can we know who we are until we understand from whence we arose? We’re Mormons. We know the soul as a unification of spirit and body, we’re all about the embodied God and so on, like the documentary said. We need to have a deep understanding of our physical bodies and how they came to be.

    Phillip Morrison’s “Powers of Ten”, a primer of numeracy as illustrated by pictures of the universe on scales from the smallest to largest features we currently know. This little jewel of a book is delightful, pithy, and all-encompassing.

    Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, a novel which nevertheless discusses and illuminates deep ideas of metaphysics and the nature of reality.

    Thomas McMann and John Tyler Bonner’s “On Size and Life”. This book conveys a really important understanding of the engineering constraints of the bodies of living things. An elephant can’t be built the same as a mouse, and here’s why. Essential reading for all future gods.


  166. I wear my hair in pigtails, I too have a ton of cousins, I never took an AP test (but I assume a 5 must be good), my mountain bike has been rusting in the garage for almost seven years (my oldest will turn seven this fall) but I was an awkward (yet enthusiastic) biker anyhow, my unique visitor counts are pretty good, and I almost never get cavities.

  167. Mark IV says:

    Justin, # 163,

    I have long been in awe of your erudition, but this is really too much. HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT!?!?!

  168. Steve Evans says:

    No matter how you come down on this issue, one thing is certain: Kaimi is a hack poacher.

  169. I used to be a tech elitist. People shouldn’t use the Internet unless they had at least a basic understanding of telnet, FTP, archie, veronica, jughead, etc. Better yet you understand DNS, IP routing, subnetting, etc. Forget it if you couldn’t at least retrieve a file from an FTP server without a GUI.

    Luckily, I didn’t have my way. Though I miss feeling elite at times when talking with my nerd friends, the Internet is better with the dummies who can’t use vi. I hope the bloggernacle isn’t a worse place because of dummies like me chiming in every once in a while.

  170. Geez, Kristine, I’m glad you finally came clean. I was all impressed with your MTBR bad self, and was going to invite you to go biking with me when you were in town. What a let down. What’s next? Steve is really a woman named Jenn? Pretty Pauline was totally made up? Where does it end?

  171. Peter LLC says:



    I’m a little taken aback at the accusations levelled against my comment for being off-topic and cyncial.

    Regarding these two issues, could you help me understand how Batzarro relates to the important issue of being well-read before hitting the “add my comment” button more so than a comment addressing unspoken assumptions underlying the original post?

    And how “hack poacher” when addressed to Kaimi is not evidence of a chip on your shoulder?


    [I’m willing to wager a week’s wages the answer has something to do with “being in the know”]

  172. Kristine says:

    Mark IV, I’m starting to think Justin is one of the Three Nephites. Or God.

  173. Steve Evans says:

    Peter, if you’d prefer to try and switch things to me rather than answer my questions regarding your post, that’s fine. I’ll answer yours nonetheless.

    Batzarro doesn’t relate to anything of much at all, except that it was tangentially related to Bizarro Kevin’s question about Bizarro. It was meant in a humorous way.

    “Hack poacher” when addressed to Kaimi is probably some evidence of a chip on my shoulder. Kaimi and I go back a long way, probably longer than you know. My comment was meant as a barb for him, and little more, but I suppose there is probably an element of truth to it.

    Now, my turn to try and get you to answer questions again: I honestly don’t know why you’re hostile to me or to this site, but your past few comments have seemed pretty venomous to me. Am I misreading you? Was your previous comment (and this new one) not cynical? I’m asking you to clarify what you mean.

  174. I should probably explain my comment:

    I’ve long thought your resemblance to Hana Fiserova was uncanny.

    Translation: I’ve thought your resemblance to Hana Fiserova was uncanny ever since I saw your comment, conducted a quick google images search, and got very lucky.

    Until last night, I thought Kristine was a serious mountain bike racer and I wasn’t aware of Fiserova’s existence. Google is good for a lot of things, but there is no question that it can lead to major disillusionment.

  175. Peter,

    Steve doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He’s just Canadian, and so he silently seethes about the fact that nothing good has come out of his beloved Patria since The Safety Dance, and hopes against hope that Nickelback will eventually commit group suicide and stop embarassing him.

    His pent-up Canadangst sometimes comes out in strange ways, like complaints about poaching, inscrutable links to YouTube videos, or posts about lolcats or Batman . . .

  176. I spent all this time reading comments about what I should read, rather than actually reading what I should read.

    Kristine, I got that your post was serious and tongue in cheek, but it speaks to why I don’t really participate in the ‘Nacle all that much. It just takes too much education, and I come to the net to relax.

    Lurking is so much easier on my ill-educated brain. ;)

  177. Steve Evans says:

    Word up kaimi, particularly re: Nickelback.

  178. Steve Evans says:

    to wit: cats on catnip.

  179. Tatiana–great list, but GEB? That book made my head hurt, and I didn’t get 200 pages in. Then again, I’m not much of a math person…

    I’m much more into fantasy/science fiction (I, too, waste much of my time doing things I enjoy at a rather mediocre level). That said, I’ve read some incredibly insightful science fiction I’d suggest to anyone who enjoys thinking.

    Kim Stanley Robinson is wonderful hard sci-fi, and his Mars trilogy was incredibly true to the Mars science that was known when he wrote it. All of his science fiction is very true to the way science is done, including Antarctica, which I read while in Antarctica and found freakishly accurate, and 40 Signs of Rain, where he describes how NSF proposals are funded. I’d suggest Years of Rice and Salt to anyone who likes alternate history, in particular if you.

    Neal Stephenson is also excellent if you like science fiction. Cryptonomicon is about cryptography and has the best ending of any Stephenson work I’ve ever read (which isn’t saying much). I’ve only read the first book of The Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver), but thought it was quite good. He’s also responsible for In the Beginning Was the Command line, which is worth a read just for the analogy of different an OS to a car/tank.

    Kristine–I’ve wanted to read more LDS history to try to keep up with you guys (I also feel more than a little intimidated when it comes to theological matters, and so keep to the science threads). Libraries suck though–I went in for one book and came out with four!

  180. craig clayton says:

    After reading all comments, I still like Kristine’s list best. I would add the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. More helpful even than Bushman to understand what the restored gospel meant to those who first heard and accepted it and why Mormonism survived its first 15 years.

    Thanks to Nelson-Seawright for the Manchester Mormons plug, but Grandfather would resent the glaring omission of the rest of the title – Diary of William Clayton.

    I can’t agree on the suggestion to add the Price McKay biography. Its an absolutely fascinating book, but not a basic book. Price gives us much too much of the bureaucrat and much too little of the prophet to help us understand how Mormonism survived the twentieth century.

  181. TStevens says:

    Syncophant – a Greek word describing those who only flatter people who are clearly sinners. For example, R rating be damned, that was a great post on the 300 Kevin.

    I only got a 2 on my AP English Exam, but I can say I was the first one done. And now I edit a cook book for a living. As for my bike, I ride the Surly Long Haul Trucker – great for the daily commute or for going around the world. Go to for some good bike p*rn.

    Lately I have been reading the works of Rabbi Harold Kushner. Short books, but very good for starting the pondering process.

  182. I guess I get amnesty for a bit longer, since I’ve only been a member for six months… I’m still getting through the BoM and hte D&C (but I managed to get the student manuals for them, and the studying part makes it take a lot longer than just reading). But I am excited about the reading list!
    I just added pretty much every book mentioned in this post and the comments to my wishlist. Now, if only I had a job… *sigh* Well, it’s still there, for anyone who wishes to spend any money on me at all.

  183. Stephanie says:

    I’m half-way through “Rough Stone Rolling” already. Score!

    But sometimes I read it instead of scriptures at night and wonder if I should feel bad about that.

    As for Sisters in Spirit, I had an ex’s copy in my possession, but one of his other exes wanted it, so I gave it up… But I think I’d rather read the Claudia Bushman one, since as far as I know she hasn’t been excommunicated yet! Not that I wouldn’t read something written by someone who was excommunicated…

    There’s just so many books I need to read (secular and non) But I’m only 25!!!

  184. Hey, wanted to get the bloggernacle’s opinion on this – what do all of you think of the book Mormon America? Have any of you ever heard of it/read it?
    I found it for about 70% off at a used bookstore today, and bought it on a whim. Anyone have anything good/bad to say about it?

  185. Kristine says:


    Lavina Anderson’s excommunication had nothing to do with anything in her book (and she was the editor, not the author, so most of the work is other people’s). Maureen Beecher, her co-editor, has not been exed. In any case, the work ought to be judged on its merits, not on the ecclesiastical standing of its editors/authors. Also, as you well know, Anderson’s excommunication is extremely controversial, and she is still active and faithful in her ward. In short, I think it’s both irrelevant and tacky to mention the excommunication in this context.

  186. A few reviews of Mormon America:

    Mormon America

  187. Amazon also lists a revised and updated edition of Mormon America to be published this fall.

    The book’s material on the failed effort to press the church to issue a statement on the 20th anniversary of OD-1 was new to me.

  188. Err, I intended to write “OD-2” (1978).

  189. Aldo Guillault says:

    Why don’t we all go back to the words of Christ? Blogs are OK if we wish to learn how to present and share opinions, but opinions are just opinions unless substantiated by our Lord’s truth! “But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ John 6:68

  190. If Kristine really intended us to read these books, she would have hot-linked their titles to Amazon, so as to facilitate their purchase.

    So there.

    * waits for links *


  191. Silus,

    See here for some links:

  192. YAY!

    Thanks, Kaimi!



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