I was asked elsewhere to list my favorite Mormon-related books. Here they are:
The Giant Joshua by Maurine Whipple. Just really well written stuff.
The Evening and the Morning, by Virginia Sorensen. Again, top-notch writing.
The Backslider, by Levi Peterson. So, so cynical.
The Work and the Glory, by Gerald Lund. The writing is spectacularly bad (though not as bad as Chris Heimerdinger’s stuff). This stuff is good just for the sheer entertainment value.
2. Favorite five LDS non-fiction/non-apologetic books? (Excluding the Standard Works).
Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery. Hands down the best-written LDS biography written so far.
In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, by Todd Compton. Really well done.
Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Dean Jessee, ed.
The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, by Bitton and Arrington. An admirable attempt at an objective history.
History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith. Lucy’s personality and her fierce defense of her son come alive in the words of this book.
3. Favorite five LDS apologetic works?
Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, Noel Reynolds, ed.
Second Witness, by Brant Gardner.
Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, Parry, Peterson, Welch, eds.
Man: His Origin and Destiny, by Joseph Fielding Smith. The ultimate in “it was just his personal opinion.” Ignorance and superstition masquerading as dogma.
Truth Restored, by Gordon B. Hinckley. Institutional spin in a handy pocket size.
4. Five ‘Favorite’–implying best-written, most thought-provoking, NOT ‘most ridiculous’ or ‘most laughable’–books critical of the LDS Church.
New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, Brent Metcalfe, ed. This was the first critical book that made sense to a believer who had reached some of the same conclusions outlined in the book.
American Apocrypha, Metcalfe and Vogel, eds. Another fine collection of thought-provoking essays.
No Man Knows My History, by Fawn Brodie. Yes, the “psychobiography” is annoying, but the writing is cracking good, and much of Brodie’s work has stood the test of time.
Losing a Lost Tribe, by Simon Southerton. Finally puts the hemispheric model to rest.
Farewell to Eden, by Duwayne Anderson. Duwayne was a thorn in the side from way back on a.r.m. His book is well-written and is a good outline of how skeptics view the church.
5. Five LEAST FAVORITE books critical of the LDS Church–yeah you can have a little fun with this one if no one derails this thread in the process.
Godmakers, by Ed Decker. The embodiment of the word “craptacular.”
One Nation Under Gods, by Richard Abanes. Bless his heart, Richard tries.
Mormonism, Mama, & Me, by Thelma “Granny” Geer. A manipulative and distorted view of Mormonism dressed up to sound loving and kind.
Kingdom of the Cults, by “Dr.” Walter Martin. Mean-spirited sensationalism, pure and simple.
The Book of Zelph. Absolutely brilliant satire.