I read like a fiend for this month’s Reading Roundup. Mainly because I visited my Grandma. She has some of the most interesting books ever–all history, culture, literature, and religion. So, I begged her if I could borrow three Mormon titles that caught my eye. She reluctantly agreed (she doesn’t like lending out books in fear of never getting them back). So, to appease her, I tried to hurry and read them so that I could return them.
The one thing that I hate about reading non-fiction books that I don’t own, is that I can’t write notes in them, and actually had to suffice taking pictures of parts I really loved or stood out to me on my iPhone!
I also read two fiction books: one YA and one adult fiction.
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How Do I Know if I Know? by John Bytheway
I was very excited to read this book: 1) it was written by John Bytheway (a Mormon comedian and a famous Mormon speaker) and 2) it was all about finding out what you truly believe, which is what I’ve been trying to do this past year. Bytheway said that the biggest problem facing members of the church today isn’t pornography or any other sin, but the strength of their testimony.
I really liked Bytheway’s insights. He spoke honestly and plainly. One thing that really stood out to me was this quote, because of my issues I have with using grace as an excuse:
“One time, while visiting another state, I was handed a tract that told me all I had to do to be saved was ‘Accept Jesus as my personal Savior.’ It even gave me the exact words to say. That was it! Well, Jesus Christ is absolutely my Savior and my only hope for salvation. But it doesn’t make sense to me that simply saying a sentence is what Jesus is asking us to do, or what He asked His disciples in the Bible to do. We believe in Christ, but we follow Christ in order to become like Christ…The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only about knowing but about doing. If we read about the Gospel, we’re informed, but if we practice or live the Gospel, we are transformed.”
However, it didn’t go much into depth. It was a very quick read, mainly because it was centered toward Bytheway’s dominant audience: the youth (12-18) of the Church.
The King of Dragons by Carol Fenner
I was pretty interested in reading this YA novel that I had gotten at a library $1 sale, especially because it didn’t have any summary in the back. So, I literally had no idea what the book was about. Based on the cover, I was expecting some sort of ethnic mystical book. I was completely wrong.
The King of Dragons is about Ethan, a young boy, who is homeless and living in an abandoned courthouse, waiting for his father to return. But, a NPO bought the old building and turned it into a kite museum.
I thought the writing was very confusing. A lot of times, especially with the father, tried to be deep and mysterious, but it failed. I didn’t feel like the characters really got any growth. It definitely was no where near being a favorite for me.
Exploring the Connections Between Mormons and Masons by Matthew B. Brown
I remember when this came out in 2009. I had just finished my college exams for the semester and was at BYU’s campus bookstore to buy my reward of a book for finishing another semester. I saw this on the shelf after I already purchased a book and knew I wanted to read it sometime.
I have always been interested in esoteric/religious history, especially after reading The Secret History of the World. Growing up, I had heard that Masons were bad and that Mormons were accused of taking things from Masonic rituals and putting it in their theology and rituals was anti-Mormon. But, as an adult, I realized that Masons weren’t evil, and that yes there are some similarities between Mormons and Masons, especially when it comes to the different things that happen in LDS temples.
What I loved about this book is that it did show similiarities between the two, but proved that Mormons did not base anything off Masons. The author used a lot of primary sources, although I felt his argument was a little week at a few times when he “proved” things saying that God had revealed it and using only Mormon scriptures…I mean, I believed it, but those who don’t believe God talks today or in Mormonism would just shrug off what he had to say.
One of the most interesting points he made was the the Masonic rituals were actually proved to be based of not only the medieval mystery plays (which were super-uber religious), but also from texts of the early Christian Church on what they did and how they practiced. So, if one argues that the LDS temples are Masonic in origin, you could really just skip Masonry as the middleman and say that LDS temples are based off early Christianity. Brown was also able to compare what Mormons did in temples to a lot of different rituals or symbols that different monastic orders use and do.
Now, to what point Masonry and Mormonism are similar, based off each other, coincidental, I don’t know and doubt I ever truly will. I doubt anyone will ever really truly be able to prove anything in anyway. What is important is how I feel and who I keep at the head of my mind while in the temple–Christ.
Much Ado About Mormons by Rick Walton
This book was basically a compilation of what different famous people throughout history have said or written about Mormons and Utah. It was really interesting to see what some of the early US Presidents thought, as well as people such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Buffalo Bill, and present-day Presidents. Many had good things to say about either the beauty of Utah, how clean/organized/well-set-up Salt Lake City was, the kindess and charity of the Mormon people, and how happy and peaceful we always seem. It was quite interesting to read!
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
I read this one for Bonnie’s Book Club this month.
I’ve never really been interested in love story books…I honestly find them a little boring…kind of like chic flicks…if it isn’t a RomCom, it’s not worth my time. This book was extremely boring to me. I literally fell asleep reading it one night. Ask Justin…
It’s about a geeky, socially-enept boy, Lincoln, who gets a job at a newspaper doing Internet security. He has to read flagged emails and warn the employees. Two girls, Beth and Jennifer, who email each other because they are best friends often get flagged. Lincoln starts to fall for Beth. Beth sees Lincoln one day and starts to fall for him, not knowing exactly who he is.
I found that plot a little creepy–both Lincoln and Beth were stalkers. Eww. It also took place in 1999 with a ton of references to 90’s pop culture. I was NINE in 1999…I didn’t understand half the references!
However, I did like Rowell’s style of writing. Half of the book was formatted as the emails sent between Beth and Jennifer (like today’s texting between friends). I thought it was very well done–it truly sounded like two friends having a conversation. And, when it was in prose following Lincoln, Rowell also did a good job with his train of thought. It wasn’t jumpy, but it wasn’t super structured and predictable either.
So, although Attachments was well written, I just wasn’t interested in the plot.
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What books did you read this month? Which of mine seem interesting? Which one would you want to read?