Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Lily Pad of Comfort

I have made a number of changes in my life recently. The one pressing on me most at this time is the acquisition of a new home. To be honest, it all happened much quicker than I had anticipated. I had thought to give myself some time before I needed to be in the new pad, but within two days of beginning the search, we were putting down an offer which was countered which was accepted which led to securing monies and appraisals and inspections and a whole lot o' stress.

But we moved in a couple weeks ago. And that's been nice. Now we get to figure out how to make the pad Ours. This, of course, leads to a little bickering here and there as we discuss colors furniture placement and whose job it is to mow the lawn. But we're settling in and making it home.

However, it has been more apparent to me this time than any of the previous times I've moved how important my books are to me. I know I often joke about it, but it really is true. This past weekend, we finally got the bookshelves put up in my office, which meant I was able to liberate my books from their boxes in the garage. And having those books on the shelves is what makes this place Home. I'm at peace and balanced.

So, in honor of my books that are happily sitting on their shelves, I thought I'd post about my more-liked books in the LDS market. Well, the ones I have on my shelves, anyway.

Now, lest Kristy rail on me for not revealing my biases and what not, I will openly acknowledge that I prefer fiction, especially in the LDS market. Nonfiction in this market has a tendency to lean toward the I Hope They Call Me as a General Authority tone. Totally inaccessible. But seeing as how I prefer fiction, that means that most of my titles are going to be Covenant titles.

Kerry Blair. This Just In. Covenant Communications, 2004. If you read this blog regularly, then you know that you can't help but love anything Kerry writes. I bet I would love to read her grocery list. What I like about this book is she writes in such a way that you truly care for a character whose stereotyped characteristics (former beauty pageant contestant who now makes her living delivering fluff pieces on the news) we have been taught as a society to hate.

Jerry Borrowman. 'Til the Boys Come Home. Covenant Communications, 2005. Yes, this novel has a very slow start; however, Borrowman effectively uses the slow start to bring you into the characters' heads so you truly care for them. And his battle scenes, when he gets to them, are good. There is an advantage in penning a few biographies of war veterans. I also must commend an author who is brave enough to do what Borrowman does partway through the book, which I don't really want to reveal since I would have to give a spoiler alert.

Orson Scott Card. Sarah. Bookcraft, 2000. I think Card did a phenomenal job of bringing Sarah to life in a way that hasn't been done before, particularly in the LDS market. I don't think he followed through as well with through the remainder of the series, but such is often the case with series.

Guy Morgan Galli. Lifted Up. Covenant Communications, 2003. This book is, most unfortunately, out of print. And I'm upset that it's not on my shelf because a friend is borrowing it. In fact, I always have friends borrowing this book. Yes, it has a horrendous cover--mullets went out of fashion for a reason--but the content is good. It narrates the story of a Simon who was alive during the time of Christ's life and ministry. You see how the social circumstances of time affected Simon's life and how the brief contact he has with the Savior alters it. Such a good book. I may have to stop lending mine out since I can't replace it.

Jennie Hansen. High Stakes. Covenant Communications, 2004. Hansen is quite prolific, but it's High Stakes where I feel she is most at home in terms of her writing style. If there were to be a true LDS western genre, Hansen would be the one to head it up.

Dean Hughes. Children of the Promise. Deseret Book, 1997-2000. Hughes must be praised if for no other reason than he saved us from Lund. He showed that an author can tell a good story that contextualizes the Mormon experience without turning it into a somewhat trite narrative whose sole purpose is to teach Church history. It helps that Hughes is a darned good writer.

Robert Marcum. Land Divided. Covenant Communications, 2003. Though I liked Marcum's entire House of Israel series, I feel the second was his best. I think he managed to get a pulse on character and story and reveal somewhat of the underlying tensions that have carried through the Middle East to today.

H. B. Moore. Of Goodly Parents. Covenant Communications, 2004-2005. I know a number of people don't like Moore's writing, but I do. I think she has a pleasant, easy-going style and a fairly good pen for story narrative. I will say that I think it's nice to see a female author venture into writing about Book of Mormon times in a serious and academic nature. There is just a different perspective and feel for the people that she brings out. (I'm hoping to see the same thing in Sariah's forthcoming novel.)

Kristen D. Randle. Slumming. HarperTempest, 2003. If there were to be a true LDS young adult market, this novel would be the model. It's unafraid to actually deal with issues, whereas most other LDS books aimed at teens seem to think that all teens are Mia-Maids and deacons who are not "ready" for any real meat or hard situations. Of course, some of this is driven by the ways in which YA lit conflicts with LDS parenting, namely in that YA lit is about discovering who you are, and since LDS teens are raised being told who they are, they don't generally search for themselves until they're college kids. That's unfortunate. What's more unfortunate is that this book would have never been picked up by one of the major LDS publishers.

Pamela Carrington Reid. Coffin House. Covenant Communications, 2005. There has recently been an onslaught of LDS middle grade novels. I'm pleased to see that. I will confess to some disappointment at the homogeneity of the characters--too many blond-haired, blue-eyed kids from the Wasatch front for my taste. Which is one of the reasons I liked this novel. Sure, the main character is pretty Utah Mormon, despite being from Australia, at least her supporting characters begin to represent the cultural diversity we actually have in Mormondom.

James E. Talmage. Jesus the Christ. Umm. Need I say more?

John Taylor. Witness to the Martyrdom: John Taylor's Personal Account of the Last Days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Deseret Book, 1999. The greatest value, in my opinion, in LDS nonfiction is in narratives. This is one of my favorites.

Patricia Wiles. Kevin Kirk Chronicles. Covenant Communications, 2004-2006. Of the recent spat of middle grades, this series is very much my favorite. I love the voice and the story. I love that it doesn't take place in Utah. I hope there's a fourth novel.

David G. Woolley. Pillar of Fire. Covenant Communications, 2000. Woolley's first book was phenomenal. He told a superb story with great characters. Then something weird happened with his second and third books, I'm not even sure what.


At 7/12/2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Froggy! I'm the friend borrowing Lifted Up and I just finished it last night. Now I just have to wait for my slow reading husband to finish it (he's half way through) and then I promise I will return it unharmed. Mostly because I know if I didn't you'd kill me (and you can because you know where I sleep). You are totally right though, it's wonderful!

At 7/12/2006 1:28 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

Thanks for mentioning me on your list. All but two of the books you listed are also on my book shelves and are among my favorites, however, I doubt I could have composed such a short list. Everytime I try to come up with a list of my favorite LDS books, also primarily fiction, the list goes on and on. I'm always discovering something new and exciting, heartwarming, or just an iteresting perspective.

At 7/12/2006 6:35 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Wow, Frederick -- we've MISSED you! And I'm not just saying that because you included me on a list with David Woolley, Jennie Hansen, O Scott Card and John Taylor. Okay, maybe I am.

Anyway, glad my dragoonflies finally got to you. I'll slip the gold fish into the bog later tonight when Rob isn't looking.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Considering the source (I have a thing for frogs) I've never received a nicer compliment. I do believe I feel brighter and lighter than a lightning bug!

At 7/12/2006 7:27 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

(I'm hoping to see the same thing in Sariah's forthcoming novel.)

You and me both, Frederick.


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