The only way you could
do better than a good book for Mother’s Day is to give the
woman in your life time to read it (that, and perhaps a box of
chocolates). Here are some new books that speak to me as a Latter-day
Saint woman. (See previous column, “LDS Women’s Voices,”
for suggestions on LDS women’s history and essays.)
Boston area resident
Whitney Johnson addresses every LDS woman’s conundrum of
balancing family, church, and professional responsibilities and
determining what takes priority and when, and she does it with flair
and confidence in Dare, Dream, Do. The book’s
subtitle, “Remarkable Things Happen when You Dare to Dream”
has become her theme and “Disrupt Yourself” her mantra,
not just when she speaks and writes, but also in her personal life.
Johnson herself has
moved from piano performance to Wall Street institutional investor,
to motherhood, each time disrupting her life only to discover and
develop other gifts. She illustrates her points with the experiences
and voices of a variety of other women who’ve disrupted the
status quo (or had it disrupted for them) and found new avenues for
growth and service.
The individual chapters
can be read as time allows, although most of the women I know would
not want to put this book down until they’ve absorbed all the
inspiration it has to offer. Check out her blog at
whitneyjohnson.com, then start dreaming! (Bibliomotion 2012, 254
pages in hard cover, $24.95.)
The Life and
Faith of Eliza R. Snow deftly interweaves events in her life
with short selections from her prolific poetry in an attractive
volume. Historian Jill Mulvay Derr and editor Karen Lynn Davidson
have joined forces to elucidate and celebrate the life of an early
Mormon woman whom I’ve always regarded as my “patron
saint” because of her outspokenness and penchant for writing.
She’s become somewhat of a legend, her life paralleling events
in Church history as they unfolded in the 1800s.
The authors, who
earlier collaborated on a complete collection of her poems, present a
more compact look at Eliza’s life, moving chronologically and
illuminating her feelings with her own words. There were difficult
times for the Church and for Eliza, and some periods of her life
remain an undocumented mystery. Yet, despite the struggles and
unanswered questions, what ultimately emerges is her indomitable
spirit and unwavering faith.
The clear text is
augmented by photos and historical scenes. Sources cited reflect the
substantial scholarship that’s gone into this relatively
compact volume. (Deseret Book 2013, 178 pages in hardcover, $27.99.)
For those who may not
share my feminist proclivities or my discomfort in the kitchen, there
are a couple of alternate offerings.
Stuff is a colorful, different kind of cookbook that offers
ideas and simple crafts along with tasty recipes. The six sisters
really are biological sisters, and they share favorite family recipes
such as twice-baked potato casseroles, slow cooker meals, and food
kids can help with, as well as fun stuff like “101 Fun, Easy,
and Cheap Indoor Activities for Kids” and step-by-step
directions for decorations.
The heavyweight paper
cover has flaps that serve as bookmarks for this creative collection.
(Shadow Mountain 2013, $21.99.)
Lion House Soups
and Stews, new in the popular spiral-bound, handy-size
series, is also a likely hit for anyone who enjoys the kitchen. Some
85 recipes — several updated and simplified from previous Lion
House books — include all kinds of soups, stews, and chilis, as
well as popular breads and rolls, compiled by Lion House baker Brenda
Hopkin and executive chef David Bench. Some can be made in a slow
cooker; many can be easily doubled or tripled. A bonus DVD has Hopkin
and Bench demonstrating food prep and processes. (Deseret Book 2012,
138 pages, $19.99.)
Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high
school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles
published in newspapers, magazines, and online.
A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she
embraces all, having had her five children and their spouses all graduate from universities of
various colors. The oldest of 18 grandchildren (so far) begins the cycle again this fall.
She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 as
proselyting missionaries in Chile at the same time their youngest son was serving in Germany.
The last two times, they've served in Washington, D.C. (South and North missions) as young
adult Institute teachers. In D.C., they found it much easier to teach in English and enjoyed
having heat in the winter.
During her years of missionary service, Laurie continued to write about significant Church
events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the
groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service
Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.
Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). Home is American Fork,
Utah. She serves on the board of the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra and loves good music,
good books, and good chocolate.
Laurie currently hops between her ward Relief Society and the Primary, serving as pianist wherever she is needed.