2010 Christmas gift book guide

Behold the list both mighty and strong.

The Harper Collins Study Bible (HarperOne, 2006), $26.69
Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament: An LDS Perspective (Deseret Book, 2006) $33.96
One of my favorite places for New Testament goodness is Kevin’s Footnotes, which are available free on the internet and via hard copy, albeit expensively. If you’d like to support your friendly neighborhood Deseret Book, however, Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament which was released the last time we did the New Testament in Sunday School is a nice choice (Julie’s review). It is also, apparently, far superior than the recently released Making Sense of the New Testament. For those that really want to take the New Testament seriously, I recommend again the HC study Bible. Quoting from last year: “People in the know…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).”

Raymond E. Brown, Birth of the Messiah (Yale University Press, 1999), $23
Raymond E. Brown, Death of the Messiah (Yale University Press, 1998), $25
For those interested in a bit more heft to your devotion, try Raymond Brown’s Messiah volumes. Very smart people recommend them as excellent.

William Hartley, My Fellow Servants: Essays on the History of the Priesthood (BYU Studies, 2010), $25
Mark Lyman Staker, Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations (Greg Kofford Books, [2010]), $23

Bill Hartley is known for his excellent articles on the history of priesthood in the Church. With this volume we have a compilation of those items with what appears to be some new material. Ever wonder when and why we started ordaining twelve-year-old boys to be deacons and letting them pass the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Staker was deeply involved in the archeological projects in Kirtland and his volume is a history of the Church in that area. It really is an important volume. It is chock full of data and though I had some significant criticisms (see review), it will remain the go-to work on many aspects of Church history for years to come.

Angela Hallstrom, ed., Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction (Zarahemla Books, 2010), $15
Dispensation has been roundly praised as wonderful (See review and editor interview). Mormons are used to their fiction delivered in the young adult genre. This volume is not that. A group of short stories, some definitely better than others, written by the who’s who of Mormon writing, Dispensation will offer something that is challenging while still deeply Mormon.

Alex Boye My Christmas Wish (Shadow Mountain, 2010), $10
My wife attended a Fourth of July celebration in Salt Lake, where Boye was the main draw (British man chairing the Independence day festivities, FTW). At certain moments, the Mormon back-up choir was apparently awkwardly trying to “get down” as the kids say. Boye has a solid bluesy voice, with an edge of rasp that hints of Nina Simone. After listening to this album, I was frankly astonished that it was considered mainstream Mormon enough for distribution by Deseret. I know that Shadow Mountain is the more gentile facing branch of the organization, but I was gratified by Boye’s presentation of gospel music. Not all tracks are gospel, but the disk has soul and is definitely worth playing in the holiday queue.

BYU Studies, 1 year for $25
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon thought, 1 year for $37
Journal of Mormon History, 1 year for $55

Why yes, this is the fourth 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. Moreover, it is my understanding that both the forthcoming winter and summer issues have especially groundbreaking articles in them. 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.

Edward Leo Lyman, ed., Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abrahan H. Cannon 1889-1895 (Signature, 2010), $125.
This is the latest in Signatures Significant Diaries Series…and it is Significant. No question. I’ve used Cannon’s amazing diary for a number of projects. It will be nice to have this annotated typescript now available. Cannon was an apostle and a son of George Q., and his record is replete with fascinating details of Church governance. The book is not yet will not be available from Amazon (which has it at a discount), but is currently available through Benchmark in Salt Lake City.

Stephen Taysom, Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries (Indiana University Press, 2010), $27
Douglas J. Davies, Joseph Smith, Jesus, and Satanic Opposition (Ashgate, 2010) $26/$100

Okay, these are not going to be general interest volumes; they are for your hardcore Mormon Studies crew. And I must confess that I have not read either of them (hopefully we will have reviews in the coming months for both). I’ve read through Taysom’s doctoral dissertation, from which his volume is drawn, and it was great. He is of the coterie of upcoming fine scholars that look at Mormonism and I expect that this book will be worth the read. Davies is a Brit who likes to publish with Ashgate and stick us with $100 hardcover volumes. He is always thoughtful and insightful. I don’t have much else on it, though.


Bill Amend, The Best of Fox Trot, $26



  1. Always look forward to your recommendations, J. Nice work.

    On the limited Cannon diaries, I’ve heard from Tom that Signature is not planning to provide Amazon with copies this time around. So while it is listed there, probably best to look elsewhere. Also, last I heard, copies were selling quickly — about half have already been spoken for. You can get signed copies from Benchmark (they had an event with the author Wednesday night). I think some of the other Utah independent booksellers (like Bear Hollow Books) might be offering a small discount.

  2. Great, as always, J. I wasn’t aware of the Hartley volume and appreciate you pointing it out here.

  3. Thanks for this, J. I always look forward to your book list.

    I just wish I had $125 to shell out for the Abraham Cannon diaries…

  4. Same, Ben, that would be a great one to own, but a pricey price.

    Thanks for the list, J.

  5. My personal wishlist has the HC study bible, the Hartley volume, and the Journals (though I would add Element, as it is my favorite LDS Journal by far.) I’d not heard of the new Davies book. Interesting.

  6. I really enjoyed Davies’ book and, in case your interested, I will hopefully post a review in the next few days. Despite not reading it, J. has characterised the book quite accurately; it is not for the general reader but it is certainly provocative and poses some interesting questions for Mormon theology.

  7. Latter-day Guy says:

    Oh, I think I’m going to have to redraft my letter to Santa this year. And you’re right, the Raymond Brown stuff is really, really wonderful.

  8. On the limited Cannon diaries, I’ve heard from Tom that Signature is not planning to provide Amazon with copies this time around. So while it is listed there, probably best to look elsewhere.

    Thanks for the information. With the money I’m saving by canceling my amazon order (Dennis Horne’s edition is good enough), I plan to purchase copies of Deceptions of the Ages: “Mormons” Freemasons and Extraterrestrials as Christmas gifts for my home teaching families. Either that or The Persistence of Polygamy.

  9. Justin:

    re: “deceptions of the ages” man would I love to see a grown-up review that book…

  10. I just got confirmation from Signature that indeed Amazon will not be getting any copies.

  11. The upside is that now you can get free shipping on anything from Amazon. Just add a copy of the Cannon diaries to your order to put you over the $25 limit. They’ll ship the other item you’re buying, and then you can cancel the Cannon book later (or just wait for them to cancel it).

  12. Researcher says:

    Thanks, J., I always appreciate your lists of books.

    And, can I just say that I wish Justin was my home teacher???

  13. I was wondering what the diff. was between the Dennis Horne edition of Elder Cannon’s diaries and the Signature one was? I own the Horne one and don’t want to shell out the bucks for the exact same one!

  14. I would personally add George Handley’s _Home Waters_ to this excellent list (I’ve already given it as a Thanksgiving present) and am halfway through Taysom with Davies on the way. I have some old Ray Brown, and this may persuade me to finally take the plunge into his devotional writings. Thanks, J.

  15. C, as I understand it, this edition include financial material and material that was deemed too sensitive to be included by Horne.

  16. …thanks for the pointer to Handley, smb. I need to read that.

  17. J, great review as always.

    As far as study bibles go, I’ve enjoyed the The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version, and the 4th Edition just came out earlier this year 2010.

  18. Thanks for the shout-out J. Smb, I’m glad you made it that far. Here’s to hoping you make it all the way!