2007 BCC Christmas gift book guide

Time for the second annual recommendations for stress-free holiday shopping (see last year’s list for more titles). Let’s face it, nothing says, “I don’t care about you” more than a gift basket. For your Mormon friends and family, books are always an easy way to give without pressure. Feel free to give your recommendations as well.

December_2007_abundantlifeAn Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, edited by Edwin B. Firmage (Signature Books, 1999). $13.46
It is Christmas and a solid devotional is part of what we celebrate. The life of Christ manifest in the souls of others. Hugh B. Brown was a special and Christ-like person, and most of us have no recollection of his tenure in the First Presidency. Another excellent recommendation comes to us from Brad, our newest BCC contributer: A Labor of Love: The Nineteen Forty-Six European Mission of Ezra Taft Benson (Deseret Books, 1989 – Note that in their quantity first model, the title is not even listed on Deseret Books website). At less than $10 for a hardback, this book is not only economical but it is a splendid and moving account of Benson’s interaction with post-war Europe.

December_2007_rsr December_2007_ontheroad
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (Paperback), by Richard L. Bushman (Vintage, 2007). $12.89

On the Road with Joseph Smith, by Richard L. Bushman (Kofford Books, 2007). $10.17

For the next two years we will be studying the teachings of Joseph Smith in our Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. What better compliment complement to this curriculum than the new definitive biography of the prophet. Many have read this already as it was first released in 2005, but a new and inexpensive paperback takes away any excuse for not seeing him with fresh eyes.

Additionally, the author of RSR kept a journal during the publication of the biography. His candid writings (reviewed here) are an excellent addition for those people who are curious about the politics and realities of writing Mormon history.

December_2007_goldenplates December_2007_bomstories December_2007_handThe Golden Plates, 3 vols., by Michael Allred (AAA POP, 2005) $5-$8

Book of Mormon Stories, (LDS Church). $6.00

By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion, by Teryll Givens (Oxford University Press, 2003). Paperback $19.95

This new year we will also be studying the Book of Mormon in our Sunday Schools. Unfortunately, there is not a single volume on the Book of Mormon that we could think worthy of recommendation, except for kids. The Golden Plates are fun comic books that use the direct text from the Book of Mormon, coupled with sweet graphic art. My boys love them. Unfortunately they only go to volume three. My boys also enjoy the classic Church animated version. I can remember reading these as a kid and I am happy that my children are following suit. For the adults, Terryl Givens’s By the Hand of Mormon is the best scholarly treatment we have. It goes through history and meaning.

December_2007_jgkThe J. Golden Kimball Stories, by Eric A. Eliason (University of Illinois Press, 2007). $20.00 ($50.00 for Hardback)
Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want to read awesome stories about a swearing General Authority…even if they are folklore. Steve had a great interview with the author here. This should be on the back of every toilet in Zion. What’s more, it has some scholarly meatiness. Bonus.

December_2007_byu December_2007_dialogue December_2007_jmh
BYU Studies, 1 year for $25.

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon thought, 1 year for $37.

Journal of Mormon History, 1 year for $45.

True it is that Mormon Studies publications are a bit expensive. Moreover, there appears to be a modern aversion to subscribing to anything. All the more reason to give subscriptions as a gift. 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 also focused on history, as the name implies.

December_2007_nuttall In the President’s Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall 1879-1892, Jedediah S. Rogers, ed. (Signature Books, 2007). $125.00
Something for the high-roller. This is one of the more significant volumes of Signatures Significant Mormon Diaries Series. Nuttall was the personal secretary to several 19th century Church Presidents and his diary is a trove of wonderful information. It is hand-bound and beautiful (not to mention festively colored!). My only complaint is that it doesn’t include his early and later years of journalizing.


December_2007_atk GENTILE PICK
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, (America’s Test Kitchen, 2006). $23.07
I love ATK. And this is the best cookbook that I have ever used. Ever. Not only are the recipes universally excellent, but they have sweet consumer guides for various ingredients and kitchen wares.


  1. Pedantic note: compliment: you look great; complement: I complete you.

    I’m starting to work my way through Howe’s What Hath God Wrought, which is the Oxford History of the US account for the period in which Mormonism arose (1815-1848). I don’t love political or military history, but it’s well written, and I think it provides broadly useful contextualization for the founding of Mormonism.

  2. Under subscriptions, one can’t help but notice the ansence of sunstone… Is there a reason for this? Just curious.

  3. ATK is great. Great family cookbook.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Under the rubric of BoM studies, I would recommend Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, published by Oxford.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I just added the book about Benson to my gift list; thanks for the suggestion!

  6. a random John says:


    The formatting of this post is pretty messed up under Safari.


    I’m pretty sure that J has stated his dislike of By the Hand of Mormon elsewhere. Was it on Mormon Stories?

  7. a random John says:

    Nevermind, formatting seems better now.

  8. J., Thanks for the suggestions. This post helped me complete my shopping list.

  9. You know, I dropped the ball…not only on the spelling of “complement.” But By the Hand of Mormon is definitely worthy of recomendation. I just simply forgot, and none of the BCC crew remembered either (Kevin must have missed the email). Great pick!

    I’ve never been on a podcast besides BCC’s furtive attempt, and have never commented on the book, arJ.

  10. That is by far, the most used cookbook in my kitchen. Everything I’ve ever made from it, without exception, is fabulous.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    I suggested earlier, and J. casually disregarded it, but anything by Frederick Buechner would be an exceptional gift. His novel ‘Godric’ is a classic tale of faith.

  12. I purchased a dozen copies of the full-color comic book The Enchanter to use as stocking stuffers this year.

  13. LOL, Justin, why wait for Christmas for such fine art?

  14. a random John says:
  15. I’d like to second the question about Sunstone– lots of changes going on there, and I think it’s going to be much improved– and there were already lots of good things about it.

  16. Steve Evans says:

    Paula, Stapers left off lots of good things.

  17. Eric Russell says:

    Such as Irreantum, which is only $16 per year.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Eric, good call — Irreantum is a great one.

    Frankly, an excellent gift would be a subscription to The Economist.

  19. Andrew Hall says:

    Really, nothing else about the Book of Mormon? Givens is great, but I don’t see using it much in my Gospel Doctrine class. Does anybody have a reccommendation for good books for teaching? Is there anything on the level of the Holzapfel/Wayment books on the New Testament that have come out in recent years?

  20. Brant Gardner’s commentary is excellent, Andrew. That link is to the complete set (expensive). It is also available in single volumes. At one point, it was available online (i.e. you could read it for free). Not sure on the current status of the online edition. You should definitely also check out Mark Thomas’s book.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    I propose any of the wonderful W. Cleon Skousen masterworks.

  22. I can only take that linked site so seriously, Steve. They don’t even sell Skousen’s greatest masterpiece.

  23. Hi Bro. Stapley,
    Are you in any way related to Sister Sharon Stapley, a former missionary in Peru, 1966? My family was taught by her and we have been dying to get in touch with her. Some of her friends have lost contact with her, we also tried the mission reunions, but to no avail. Maybe somebody among your relatives in Utah might remember her. Forgive me for intruding this way, but thank you for any help.
    Happy holidays.

  24. Sorry Justo, we are inevitably related somehow (possibly fifth cousins thrice removed), but I don’t know any Sharon Stapley personally. Good luck finding her!

  25. Thank you.

  26. This thread is dead, but I must say – I unwrapped a copy of the J Golden Kimball book this morning (I put it in my list of gift suggestions based on the Bloggernacle reviews) and am mightily pleased!