N.B.: Other than the books, these are not affiliate links, and I don’t get paid for having them up on my site. They are just things I like that I wanted to share with others who might like them too.
In no particular order, here are some Mormonism-themed books I’ve enjoyed. Some of these are of stellar literary quality, and in all of them I appreciated the sensitive and balanced portrayals of Mormon characters with all their flaws and flaky charm.
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, by Elna Baker
This is one of the funniest books I have read in years. If you are or ever have been Mormon, or have ever wondered what makes Mormons do the strange things they do and yet be such nice people, you HAVE to read this book. It’s a nonfiction memoir by a female Mormon comedian living in New York City.
Exmormon, by C.L. Hanson
Now in a spiffy new-and-improved illustrated edition, this is an independently published work from a multi-talented former Mormon who’s now an expatriate living with her family in Switzerland (she’s also a blogger, and did her own illustrations for the book). It’s a series of novellas with linked characters and plots, and centers around the experience of growing up Mormon. Some characters are true believers, some are skeptics or struggling, and others have left the Church. The stories explore conflicts between people in various states of Mormon-ness and the world outside Mormonism. While the book has some of the usual flaws of a first novel (e.g., sometimes it lacks scene-setting descriptions, or dialogue comes across as stiff and clunky), it also has a lot of insightfulness and humor, and is well worth a read for anyone interested in literary depictions of Mormons struggling with or leaving their faith.
The Backslider, by Levi S. Peterson
This book was a delight to read. It’s not only a novel about struggles of conscience and religion, but also a cowboy book. It managed to make me feel nostalgic for a way of life (cattle ranching) that I’ve never experienced and that has only relatively recently all but gone out of existence. It’s funny and sad, and full of beautiful descriptions of rural Utah. The pacing is suspenseful, too.
The Evening and the Morning, by Virginia Sorensen
In this largely forgotten jewel of a book, first published in 1949, the prose is rich and lush. I wrote about it in a blog post, but to recap: The main character of the book is a women born in the last years of polygamy, who goes on to marry monogamously and have a long affair with a neighbor. Not only is the writing just knock-you-off-your-seat gorgeous, it’s a fascinating book from a feminist perspective. The book looks at the roles of women in the traditionalist world of pre-1950s Utah Mormonism without judging these women for doing traditionalist things like putting up fruit and making jam and having loads of babies. Yet at the same time, it also shows how that world can be corrosive to women’s spirits as well as forcing them to be dependent on others’ mercy in a worldly sense. And it shows these women displaying their own fierce sort of heroism in spite of it.
Under the Banner of Heaven, by John Krakauer
Although this nonfiction book by the author of Into Thin Air focuses far more on fundamentalist-polygamist sects than mainstream Mormonism (note: not the same thing!), it also delves into controversial aspects of Mormon history. For that reason, it was met with a wave of Mormon apologetics and criticism when it came out (see some of the official LDS response here). Regardless, it’s a fascinating read, and the writing is terrific.
I’m a huge fan of Boden and Mini-Boden. I like them for a number of reasons:
1. Their clothes are not boring, and this is a matter of principle with them
2. They encourage people to wear artfully mismatched clothes
3. Their fit is extremely consistent, so I always know that anything I order in my size will fit exactly the same
4. The clothes are well made and high quality, with all kinds of fun, quirky details in the linings and buttons
For the combination of good price, high quality, comfort, and cuteness, I like Pedoodles and TipsieToes. I bought Amandine a pair of the Pedoodles Petal Jumpers, and we’ve gotten tons of compliments on them. I’m sad she’s growing out of them.
I’m the sworn, embittered enemy of painful shoes in all their many and varied forms. My official favorite place to buy shoes is now Footsmart, because if they sell a shoe, you can pretty much bet on it being comfortable. While they do seem to be big among the matronly-overweight-and-bunioned crowd, still if you look you can find awfully cute things, and all very high quality. I’ve bought two pairs of Naturalizers there, and both were adorable and supremely comfortable, and I got all kinds of compliments on them. Also, the prices are far more reasonable than other “comfort shoe” sites I’ve looked at, like Mephisto, Eco, Comfort One, and so on (although you can occasionally find some of the same brands there).
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