Reading Resolutions


(A bookshelf my husband once made me.)

One of my main resolutions for 2015 is to say no more often, when I want to, so I can say yes more often, when I want to.

My other resolutions are reading ones, including books I need to read for my qualifying exams, and books I need to read for me. The majority of those in the latter category are books by or about Mormon women.

I have been editing a book like that with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright that is going to be beautiful (and handed to our publisher sometime this week!). It is an anthology on Mormon feminism since the 70s. Sitting with words and women I admire has felt like holy work. I am not ready to give that up yet, so I am turning to my own bookshelf. Some of the books I hope to read are volumes I have previously read and treasured. Others are books I collected knowing that I would love and treasure them.



Among them are:

  • Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel Ulrich Thatcher
  • Global Mom, Melissa Dalton Bradford
  • Women at Church, Neylan McBaine
  • Raspberries and Relevance: Celebrating Sisterhood in the Real World, Linda Hoffman Kimball
  • The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher
  • The Book of Mormon Girl, Joanna Brooks
  • The God Who Weeps, Fiona and Teryl Givens
  • Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society, Janeth Russell Cannon
  • Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Terry Tempest Williams
  • When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams
  • Lighten Up, Chieko Okazaki
  • Sanctuary, Chieko Okazaki
  • Being Enough, Chieko Okazaki
  • The Place of Knowing, Emma Lou Thayne
  • All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Emma Lou Thayne
  • The Gift of Giving Life, Felice Austin
  • Tell Me About it Sister, Andrea Williams
  • Mother Wove the Morning, Carol Lynn Pearson
  • Daughters in My Kingdom
  • Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery
  • An Advocate for Women: The Public Life of Emmeline B. Wells, 1870-1920, Carol Cornwall Madsen

Mo Fem Books

This is my attempt to answer the kind of thirst that Emily CC (And Carol Lynn Pearson) wrote about, to seek for the water, and to develop deep roots. I suspect I’ll be documenting my progress, here.

What other books by or about Mormon women should I add to my bookshelf?

What books will you be reading this year?

What other resolutions might you have?


Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

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14 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    This is a great list! I am excited to have some books to add to my own list. This year I want to read Jana Riess’ “Flunking Sainthood.” I also just found a beautiful anthology of poems written by Black Women, called “Black Sister.” It has a section on Maya Angelou. I am treasuring this book and savoring the poems slowly.

  2. Liz says:

    This is a fantastic list! I’m going to come back to this one again and again for ideas.

    Have you read “The Crucible of Doubt,” also by Fiona & Terryl Givens? That’s another great one.

    I also love a good Mormon memoir – I thought “Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin” and “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance” were both great fun to read.

    Jana Riess has another book out this year, too – “Flunking Sainthood Every Day,” which is a book of daily devotionals. I’m hoping to read that one, too!

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you!

      I haven’t read it yet. It’s on my list, but not yet on my bookshelf. (Other books like that are Sheri Dew’s on women and the priesthood and Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith’s, Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons.)

      I love memoirs too–Mormon or otherwise. I haven’t read “Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin” but have read “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance,” and actually happened to meet Elna right around the time it was coming out, at a Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (at an apartment though, not a chapel). I know and adore three of her siblings.

      I’ve been following Jana’s author facebook page, and she has been sharing some really beautiful and tiny devotionals. If they are in the book, I can testify that it will be a truly inspiring book.

      • Nancy Ross says:

        I want to second recommendations for Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin, Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons, and Flunking Sainthood (a favorite). I also enjoyed The Bishop’s Wife (a novel).

  3. Melody says:

    I love this so much, Rachel. Great resolutions!

    My main resolution is to say Yes to good things that take me outside my comfort level; to say Yes to things that celebrate my comfort level; and to write more. Writing, of course, includes reading more too. Mostly poetry. Mostly women poets. But I love your list and I think I’ll work my way a few of those books too. Good luck and thanks for the list. Happy reading, sister!

    P.S. I’ve mentioned this before, but my all-time favorite New Year’s resolution is from several years ago: wear more bracelets. I’ve kept it all these years.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you, Melody, and thank you for sharing your resolutions. They reminded me that I have plenty of writing resolutions as well, tied to some of the reading ones. That in turn reminded me that I forgot to share one of my other big reading resolutions: to read every General Conference talk given by a woman, that is currently archived on I want to see what, if anything they say about Sister Missionaries (I’ve read a lot about what male GA’s have said), and what if anything they say about our divine female role model and/or Heavenly Parents.

      p.s. Great resolution. So doable!

  4. EmilyCC says:

    Thank you for this list, Rachel! There is lots of new-to-me books here that I’ll add to my list (God bless the Goodreads app. Amen.).

    I have enjoyed the Women of Faith in Latter Days series. The first two volumes offer chapters on a variety of women in the Church and a brief history of their lives. I like to use the well-done historical research in Church lessons as a way of bringing in women’s voices. (Added bonus: they solicit from amateur historians…more info is here:

  5. Rachel says:

    I discovered Terry Tempest Williams this year (I’m always late to the party) and had instant writer’s envy while reading ‘When Women Were Birds’. Be still my heart, that book spoke to me. I also discovered Janice Allred’s many essays that I am still making my way through. Again, late to the party, but better late than never. Thanks for your list, I’ve been wanting to read several that you’ve mentioned. Beautiful name, btw 😉

    • Rachel says:

      Welcome to the party. I’m so glad you’re here. 🙂

      I just started reading Terry Tempest Williams this year myself. I had read so many quotes from her, but hadn’t read full portions. And then I met her, and got to hear her read from “When Women Were Birds” and another, soon to be published essay. Both were so beautiful. I collected her books immediately.

      I love the essays I’ve read of Janice Allred. We include one of her works in the anthology I’m working on.

      Indeed, great name. 🙂

  6. MDearest says:

    I just got a copy of “Women and Authority” by Maxine Hanks. It’s a shame that it’s out of print, but there are used copies readily available. My initial flip-through increased my anticipation and curiosity, and I look forward to finding the time (ha!) to read it. I suspect it should probably be on any God-fearing Mormon feminist’s bookshelf.

    I don’t do resolutions anymore, other than “Keep Trying.”

    • Rachel says:

      It is available online for free from Signature Books as well. I have read many, if not all chapters, many times. Linda Wilcox’s and Linda King Newell’s essays are my favorites, but there are so many good gems. “Women and Authority” really is such an important book. Three cheers for Maxine!

      I hope you enjoy it.

  7. Caroline says:

    Great list, Rachel!

    I think Margaret Toscano is terrific, and I particularly love her essay on “Is There a Place for Heavenly Mother?” as well as “Are Girls Equal to Boys?” (or something close to those titles.)” Her book, Strangers in Paradox, also has some great chapters on women.

    I was also struck by Annie Clark Tanner’s autobiography, A Mormon Mother. It was a devastating account of this faithful Mormon woman’s experience with polygamy.

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