2019 Christmas gift book guide

There were a lot of books published this year. Good ones. But first, not included in this list are Book of Mormon related volumes in anticipation of the new curriculum. For that, see my list from earlier this week, which includes lots of book ideas. If you are in SLC area, swing by Benchmark and support your local bookseller. I hope everyone does indeed have a merry Christmas.

A Place to Belong (Deseret, 2019), $17

Crossings: A Bald Asian American Latter-day Saint Woman Scholar’s Ventures Through Life, Death, Cancer, and Motherhood (Maxwell Inst, 2019), $17

If Truth Were a Child (Maxwell Inst, 2019). $20

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Extraordinary Women from Church History (Deseret, 2019), $19

It was a particularly strong year for the devotional, and filled with people that I love. I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of A Place to Belong, which includes chapters from multiple people that I deeply respect. I can’t wait to read it. I do have a copy of Melissa’s Crossings at hand and I have found it lovely and challenging in the best ways. George’s If Truth Were a Child has several reviews, including this one at the DNews. The last book in the list is for kids. I was excited about it and it is good—no question. After reading the chapter on Zina with my daughter, however, I wanted to light it on fire because of what I presume Correlation did. But I’ve spent a lot of time with Zina, and normal people will be fine.
Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James (Oxford UP, 2019), $25

Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics (Univ Illinois Press, 2019), $28

First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins (Oxford UP, 2019), $27

The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture (Oxford UP, 2019), $35

Confidence Amid Change: The Presidential Diaries of David O. McKay, 1951-1970 (Signature, 2019), $60

We have a lot of books here. First is Quincy’s bio of Jane Manning James. This really is an important volume. Jane was a black pioneer, and Quincy does some heavy lifting in a volume that is rigorous and illuminating. The Benson volume is an edited collection meaning a different author wrote each chapter. I haven’t finished it, but what I have read is pretty great. Andrea’s chapter on women and gender is amazing. Find a way to read it. See WVS’s review. The First Vision volume is just in time for the two-hundredth anniversary. It is accessible, and informative. Check out Ben’s review. If you are not familiar with the Book of Abraham its history, roles, and various controversies then this volume is a good place to jump in. And lastly the David O. McKay diaries are for the nerdcore out there. A bit expensive, but a really useful research tool.
The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church (Oxford UP, 2019), $21

The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History (BCC Press, 2019)

That All Shall Be Saved (Yale UP, 2019), $18

I know that Boomer-Millennial drama is all the rage right now, but Jana’s volume on the Church’s younger folks is far more interesting than anything you might find in your social media feed. She has real data. And she is a brilliant author. Check out the review at Reading Religion. Darren Parry is chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and he has told the story of his family. Most people haven’t even heard of the massacre. Paul Reeve characterizes it well: “What emerges…is more than a history of a massacre from the Shoshone perspective, it is a poignant meditation on the resilience of the soul of a people. It will be available before Christmas, and we’ll have a purchase link in the next couple of days. Last is Hart’s volume that is sort of Mormon-nip. His assessment of the dialogic terrain is frank and his arguments cutting. It is fun and refreshing.
Bruder: The Perplexingly Spiritual Life and Not Entirely Unexpected Death of a Mormon Missionary (BCC Press, 2019), $13

The Legend of Hermana Plunge (BCC Press, 2019), $13

Imagine what the mission memoir will be in twenty or thirty years–all skyping home, and hybrid vehicles. But this year we got two volumes of what it used to be like when things were more chaotic. Their respective reviews will give you a flavor of what to expect.
The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the la Sals (BCC Press, 2019), $13

Remember the Revolution: Mormon Essays and Stories (Bent Kaur, 2019), $13

Peck’s novel featuring echoes of Shakespeare and transgenic goats got a “starred review” at Publishers Weekly. That is sort of a big deal. We all love Steve, and expect to be taken for a ride. Let it begin. The second volume of essays and short stories is by Goldberg who is one of the author-editors for the Saints volume. Read the description at amazon.
Homespun and Angel Feathers (BCC Press, 2019), $10

The Tree at the Center (BCC Press, 2019), $10

I Gave Her a Name (BCC Press, 2019), $13

A friend told me this is some of the best poetry our people have ever produced. This is out of my expertise, but I believe them.


  1. J. Stapley, you are KILLING me with the books this week. So grateful. :-)

  2. So many books, so little time. I will echo your praise for Inouye’s Crossings. I don’t call many things lovely, but her writing in this book deserves that description. I would recommend one recently released history volume that I just read, Frontier Religion: Mormons in America, 1857-1907 by Konden Smith Hansen. A lot of folks have written about the church in the latter half of the 19th century, but Smith Hansen’s perspective is provocative, and created a lot of echoes that still resonate for me in the 21st Century

  3. Thanks.

    Kevin, I haven’t read Konden’s volume, but I’ve heard similarly good things. I need to rectify that.

  4. Just a quick note that The Bear River Massacre is now live and available for purchase:


  5. I look forward to this! Thank you!

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