Theric wants to know: Who will be our Richard Cracroft, now that our Richard Cracroft is gone?

Theric continues his reign of terror as BCC’s guest-post extravaganza continues unabated. 

First, let me recognize that not all Mormons who know how to read went to Brigham Young University*, but we certainly have enough alumni to agree that readers of BYU Magazine are not an insignificant number of reading Saints (~215,000).

[*This gives me a chance to try out this joke I’ve been working on. I start by saying it’s not the “Lord’s” university, after which I quote this scripture: “And how be it my university save it be called in my name? For if a university be called in Brigham’s name then it be Brigham’s university; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the university of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my university. On the other hand, I’m not sure I ever want to hear Mike Patrick saying Jesus Christ has the ball on their own fifteen.” What do you think?]

To me, the only section of BYU Magazine that I’ve never missed is Richard Cracroft’s “Book Nook.” Though, sure, I wasn’t always superkeen on his selections, having the Harold Bloom of Mormon letters treat Mormon literature with seriousness and respect always allowed for the possibility that others will start treating Mormon literature with like seriousness and respect.

Having a semi-official organ promoting the likes of Doug Thayer and Angela Hallstrom is enormously important to the ascension of worthy Mormon letters. “Book Nook” can’t stop. It’s too important. Yet Cracroft is now retired.

Perhaps BYU Magazine has plans to continue “Book Nook” that they haven’t announced, but the official line is that books published will just get dumped in with other alumni news, listed like a classified ad, of no more importance to the culture as a whole as the fellow who was just made partner at his Cincinnati law firm. This makes me ineffably sad, with a capital f.

I imagine the average reader of BCC has appreciated a truly excellent Mormon book at least once. And I further imagine that the average reader of BCC thinks Mormon arts and culture are worth caring about.

So I propose we tell BYU Magazine just how important “Book Nook” has been and beg them to continue Cracroft’s legacy. He’s worked too hard for too long to just let his efforts at making our own literature respectable disappear. I don’t care if it’s a BYU professor who takes over (Gideon Burton? Chris Crowe?), an emeritus professor (Cherry Jones? Doug Thayer?), a rotating position (I’ll volunteer to go first), or some other solution, but please, BYU Magazine: You have a hugely important asset. Don’t let Brother Cracroft’s legacy gather dust on a shelf.

Please write them. Silence can kill.!/byumagazine

(I’ve contacted all these. No idea whether or not a breathing body ever saw anything. They certainly didn’t write back.)


  1. I nominate William Morris or Kent Larson.

  2. .

    Those are great choices. Though let’s not rule me out so quickly, here.

  3. I suggest a rotating position for the first year. Thereafter, the magazine can sound out readers and see who brings the best feast to the table.

    Just a little note requesting a tad of caution: when I read the headline here, “Now That Richard Cracroft Is Gone,” I screamed and scared all the animals in the house. Richard is quite ill, and I took “gone” in the ultimate sense of the word. I am hoping for one more audience with my darling colleague–plan to see him when I attend the Mormon Women’s Forum in October. My nerves are settling down now.

  4. BYU Magazine’s Facebook page has made it incredibly easy to do this today since their most recent posting is an article about a 41-ton book sculpture.

    Also, if no one else wants it, I’d like to take the Book Nook wheel in 2037, after Cracroft’s successor and/or Theric take it for a spin around the block.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Like Elouise, when I saw the title I thought Richard had died. Glad it’s only a reference to his retirement from Book Nook.

    I enjoy BYU Magazine, Book Nook inclusive, and I too hope they’ll have actual commentary from a literate human being and not just impersonal book notices.

  6. Thanks for the vote, John. Although I do think that it should be either an alum or a current employee of BYU, and I am neither.

  7. I vote Gideon Burton, though mostly because he was my instructor when I took LDS Literature at BYU and I thought he did a tremendous job. Plus he’s really cool.

  8. .

    I also think Gideon’s the obvious choice, though I like the idea of starting with a rotation. That sounds smart.

    Also, I apologize for all the skipped heartbeats this morning.

  9. I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I love the joke.

  10. Mike Walker, associate editor with BYU Magazine here. First, let me assure you, that I adore Richard Cracroft and have cherished being the editor of his Book Nook columns the past few years. We already miss the sage reviews and sensitivity of this saintly bibliophile (and the opportunity to run to my dictionary to look up words and phrases, including “bibliophile” and “bourgeois priggishness”). And while the task of filling his shoes is tremendous, we are exploring every possibility. For now, we will tread water with some reviews on our Alumni Bookshelf and highlight others in our news section. We have not yet landed on an elegant solution for a book column but we do not intend to abandon our beloved Book Nook without turning every stone. I appreciate the dialogue here and will share your comments with my colleagues as we continue to brainstorm our future.

  11. Mike,
    Please keep it going. If you are truly desperate for reviewers, there are several permas at this blog whom I’m sure would volunteer. Although, I’m also sure any of the above suggested (esp. Wm and Th.) would be excellent.

  12. .

    Thanks, Mike, for stopping by. I shall sleep easy tonight.

    Also, Norbert, thank you. That’s all I really needed to hear.

  13. I second the nomination of William Morris, even if his only affiliation to the university is as a donor…er, tithe payer.

    But I’d also vote for Th. based on the strength of his joke. (By the way, if BYU became JCU, would that help or hurt our chances of getting into the Big XII? I think it helps)

  14. I don’t know a thing about this guy or that magazine, but the joke was nice.

  15. .

    re:#13: Of course it helps! What red-blooded American would dare keep JCU out?

  16. Steve Evans says:

    Th., but it’s a different JC dontchaknow. Or so Rick Perry tells me.

  17. .

    May he never become president of the BCS.

  18. johnloveland says:

    Just wondering, Theric… Did your post title paraphrase Paul Simon’s “Bodyguard?”

  19. .

    I knew I was paraphrasing something……

    (and I do like that song)

  20. Bruce or Margaret Young

  21. .

    I could go for either of those.

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