Put Twilight on the “best 100 Mormon books” list
Guest post by Rachel Helps. Rachel Helps is the Wikipedian-in-Residence at the BYU library. She eagerly anticipates the release of a parenting videogame she is working on with her sister, Space To Grow. She often fills conversational gaps with the minutiae of her current research, which currently includes world folklore and chess.
Hi, I’m on the board for the Association for Mormon Letters. We’re compiling a list of the most recommended Mormon books. We are accepting nominations through this Google form. We want to make sure women are well-represented in this list, and we also want to include genres that might typically be overlooked, like children’s books and romance novels.
There have been past attempts to create lists of Mormon books. A 1990 Sunstone magazine article lists fifty important Mormon books . Sadly, only 10 of the books are by women (and four of those are in the “anti-Mormon” category). Of the 21 novels on The Motley Vision blog as being candidates for a Mormon canon of literature, only 5 are by women. This unequal representation isn’t explained by a lack of candidates–there are plenty of books by Mormon women from the last 130 years.
This new list gives us the opportunity to fill a gap in previous lists of Mormon books. From Eliza Snow’s poetry to Lucinda Lee Dalton’s passionate essays in the original Exponent, women have been writing since our religion’s early days. Mormon books by women authors go beyond Maurine Whipple’s The Giant Joshua and Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge. The Exponent II blog has covered several recent works by Mormon women, including Mettie Ivie Harrison’s The Book of Abish, Rachel Hunt Steenblick’s I Gave Her a Name, and Melissa Leilani Larson’s Third Wheel. Books like those are the kind of nominations we’re looking for.
What about Arianne Cope’s The Coming of Elijah? Where are our critical picture books and romance novels? Should Twilight be on this list? Nominate them all! Even if your nomination doesn’t make it to the main list, the anonymous committee could use it to make more specialized lists, like “top ten Mormon novels with vampires” or “best Mormon nature poetry.” You can submit any book by, for, or about Mormons, although the final list will focus on books with Mormon themes.
As the Wikipedian-in-Residence at the BYU library, I’ve worked on the Wikipedia page for Mormon fiction. Since Wikipedia doesn’t allow original research, I had to limit mentions of work to those already discussed in articles on Mormon literature. The few articles about science fiction and fantasy novels by Mormon authors allowed me to cover them with some depth. However, there isn’t much academic discourse or even news articles about the kinds of novels typically for sale in Deseret Book. Please do nominate your favorite “literary” Mormon fiction, but don’t be afraid to include romance, inspirational, or speculative fiction. Fill out this form and become part of Mormon literary history!