I read 23 complete books in 2013, a total of 7,246 pages. (Thanks to Goodreads for providing me these data.) This doesn’t include children’s books (which I don’t keep track of), partially-read books, or scriptural texts such as the Bible. I’m sufficiently pleased with the numbers, not that numbers are the point of it all. Here’s a quick overview of what I read in 2013.
Of the 23 books I read, 12 were non-fiction. That’s a pretty even split, which perhaps is a good thing. Of the 12 non-fiction books I read, 11 were about Mormonism. That’s nowhere near an even split, but I still think it’s a good thing. 2013 was in many ways an epic year for me in terms of studying and coming to appreciate (and/or question) my own religious background. I expect this trend to continue in 2014. Of the 11 fiction books I read, 3 were by Mormon authors and touched at least lightly on the LDS faith. So, yes, I was rather … focused, let’s say … in 2013. It’s worth noting that not one of the books I read in 2013 was a proper philosophy text, which is odd considering I’m currently working on a PhD in philosophy. Oops.
Dominating my reading list in 2013 was Denver C. Snuffer, a Utah-based attorney who has written numerous texts on Mormonism. I don’t wish to focus too much on Snuffer’s works here. I read his first three books early in 2013 and found them incredibly rewarding. They were important reads to me, but not books I would quickly recommend to others, and not for the sake of being “good reads.” My enjoyment of them and the value I found in them had nothing to do with how well-written the books are (which, to be honest, is not very). Snuffer’s works are for a very particular audience within an already narrow niche. I think that’s all that needs to be said about their content, although I will say that Snuffer’s books were for me among the most gratifying reads of 2013.
here, so I won’t continue to praise it. Instead, I will just encourage you to cough up $10 for a paperback (or a mere $3 for the Kindle version) and read the book yourself.
Peck reappeared on my 2013 reading list with The Scholar of Moab, a bizarre mystery of sorts that touches on everything from Mormonism to two-headed cowboys to alien abduction. A myriad of characters inhabit The Scholar of Moab, most of them telling their tales by way of journal entries or personal correspondence. I found it a recommendable read, despite its being a mixed bag. When I enjoyed the novel, I thought it was great. When I didn’t, I was somewhat bored. The chapters revolve through the cast of characters, so with some regularity, I was presented with a voice that just didn’t resonate with me. Fortunately, the book is also full of gems like this [misspellings and grammatical errors included]:
It is hard to explain but you go through life with a set of things that sort of form a bed for all the other things your head is full of to rest on. Stuff like when you get up in the morning the sun is going to be there shining down on you. That the cliffs that surround Moab were going to be red & not pea-green like the grass growing between the bricks that run the path up to your trailer. Some things get real comfy cozy in your head & you expect them to be there so much that you forget they are there. In fact they are pretty much Invisible. Its just not things that you can see & touch like the sun & the color of cliffs. Some things are apart of you that you can never see until all of the sudden something comes & wants to rearrange the whole shebang.
I guess this list wouldn’t be complete without embarrassing myself a little bit. For some unknown reason, I read two books aimed primarily at adolescent females. First was Thumped by Megan McCafferty. Then came Dare Me by Megan Abbott. Both books were closer to crap than not, which I don’t think can be blamed entirely on their genre (nor on the coincidental fact that both books were written by someone named Megan). These two books are undoubtedly the worst books I read during the last 12 months. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
I’m happy to report that most of the books I read in 2013 were quite good or better. I can’t describe them all, but I’ll list a few of my favorites that have not yet been discussed:
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons edited by Robert A. Rees
The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Terryl and Fiona Givens
And now you should have yourself a fine little reading list for 2014! The end!