2016 Christmas gift book guide

Another year, another Christmas gift book guide. I’m not going to call out the books germane to the 2017 Gospel Doctrine curriculum; however you can see those recommendations here.

Hoiland, One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God (MI) $12.95
Mason, Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (MI) $15.99
Huntsman, Worship: Experiencing and Being Transformed by God (Deseret) $19.99
Miller, Future Mormon (Kofford), $17.42
It was a great year for devotional literature. We had both Hoiland (AKA ashmae of BCC fame) and Mason come to Seattle to talk about their volumes, and both experiences were moving to me. Their respective titles are useful for discerning what the books are about. You can read about Hoiland’s here and here. Steve did a Q&A with Mason about his. Thanks to the Maxwell Institute for publishing these fine volumes. Huntsman is a legitimate NT scholar at BYU and does some strong work in his volume. Jason K. reviewed it here. Miller is a regular contributor at BCC as well, and is known for highly philosophical work (frequently of the continental sort). Angela C gave his a nice review.


Holbrook and Bowman, Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (UUP) $25.37
Turner, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography (Harvard) $21.93
MacKay and Frederick, Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones (Deseret and RSC) $24.99
I’m certainly partial to Women and Mormonism. I have a chapter in it on women and authority. But I would be a booster if mine weren’t included; it is really great. It has chapters from many different scholars of Mormonism on many topics related to the title and often associate with “agency.” I think it is a must-read. Here is a review. Turner is the author of the BY bio from a couple of years ago. I guess this is where you go from there. He has also pulled in some great reviews (see here and here). And remember when seer stones were all sorts of controversial? Now Deseret book offers the book like candy. JKC reviewed Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones and found it a bit idiosynchratic but worth checking out.


Smith, As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture (Kofford) $17.68
Spencer, The Vision of All: Twenty-Five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record (Kofford) $21.90
For scripture studies (besides the Gospel Doctrine stuff linked above), we have some really interesting offerings. As Iron Sharpens Iron has different authors envision a discussion between people in scripture who have differing views. For example Amulek and Alma discussing the atonement. JKC gave a helpful review. And I know, Isaiah and the Book of Mormon. But it sounds really interesting.


Derr, et al., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (CHP) $49.95
Grow, et al., JSP: Council of Fifty Minutes (CHP), $59.95
These two are for the nerdcore of your cadre. They are big and expensive. I just went through and updated the references in my book ms to The First Fifty Years. I think I cite it more than any other single work. The Nauvoo RS minutes are the core, but there is a lot more. Steve had a nice Q&A with the editors. Also there was that time when Joseph Smith set up a shadow government to establish a theocracy and the minutes have been locked away forever. Yeah, the JSPP published them.


Hales, The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (Kofford) $17.97
Spalding, et al., Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families (Deseret) $18.99
If you haven’t seen Hale’s Garden of Enid comics around on facebook or elsewhere, well I guess you must have boring friends. These are charming and poignant and funny. And for a children’s book we have Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families. Is that Heavenly Mother on the cover? Form Deseret Book?



Munroe, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (HMH) $13.99
My kids got this last year. I still see them go back to it regularly and chuckle. Not many books can do that.


Johnson and Reeder’s The Witness of Women and Ulrich’s A House Full of Females don’t look like they will arrive before Christmas, but both will be excellent. So if you have some leeway there, they are great choices. Keep an eye out for them.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Just in time, as my wife asked me for my gift suggestions yesterday. I appreciate you pulling this together.

  2. I always love seeing your list. Thank you for sharing!

  3. If I may suggest one, too, here’s one for (but not limited to) younger readers: Wagons West: Brigham Young and the First Pioneers, by Richard E. Turley and Lael Littke. My review here.

  4. J. Stapley says:

    Thanks Ardis! I missed your review, and was unaware of the book. It looks really great.

  5. Mary Lythgoe Bradfford says:

    You could have mentioned my “Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays” from Kofford. Gene England said person essay was the quintessential Mormon genre–

  6. Andrew H. says:

    Some other Mormon literature from 2016 to think about:
    Personal essays:
    Patrick Madden. “Sublime Physick” University of Nebraska Press.

    Scott Abbott. “Immortal for Quite Some Time”. University of Utah Press.
    Emily Wing Smith. “All Better Now.” Penguin.

    Short story collections:
    Darin Cozzens. “The Last Blessing of J. Guyman LeGrand.” Zarahemla Books
    Eric Freeze. “Invisible Men.” Outpost19.

    Nancy Campbell Allen. Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. Shadow Mountain. Steampunk gothic. H
    Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. The Swarm. Tor. Science fiction.
    Melanie Jacobson. Southern Charmed. Covenant. Romance.
    Gerald N. Lund. The Shadow Falls. Deseret Book. Historical.
    Stephenie Meyer. The Chemist. Little, Brown.
    Julie Nichols. Pigs When they Straddle the Air. Zarahemla. Literary/family.
    Brandon Sanderson. The Bands of Mourning. Tor, Jan. Fantasy. Mistborn #6.
    Shawn Vestal. Daredevils. Penguin. Literary novel. Ex-Mormon author.
    Dan Wells. Over Your Dead Body. Tor. Horror. I am not a serial killer #5.

    YA Novels:
    Julie Berry. The Passion of Dolssa. Viking,
    Matthew J. Kirby. A Taste for Monsters. Scholastic.
    Aprilynne Pike. Glitter. Random House Books for Young Readers.
    Erin Summerill. Ever the Hunted. Harcourt Children’s Books.
    Dan Wells. Bluescreen. Harper Collins.
    Robison Wells. Dark Energy. Harper Teen.
    Kiersten White. And I Darken. Delacorte Press.
    Carol Lynch Williams. Messenger. Simon & Schuster.
    Jeff Zentner. The Serpent King. Random House.

  7. Why leave off the Greg Prince bio of Leonard Arrington?

  8. J. Stapley says:

    Those are all good additions.

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