"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
October 3, 2012
Into the Best Books
by Kathryn Grant

As a child, I loved to read. Actually, that doesn’t describe the insatiable appetite I had for books. I devoured them. I couldn’t get enough. When my mom sent me to clean my room, more often than not I would take a “break” and relax into a good book (hours later, my room still wasn’t clean!). At the time I thought I was getting away with something; now I suspect that more than once my mom (who valued good books herself) quietly let me read for a while.

My favorites, like the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia, I read again and again. Recently I reread some of these books as an adult, and I was surprised to see how they had influenced me — how the truths in them had shaped my life and become part of me.

In modern revelation, we’re invited to “become acquainted with all good books” (D&C 90:15) and to “seek … out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118). I admit that these are two of my favorite scriptural admonitions. But in our busy lives it can be a major challenge to find time to read.

Still, with a little creativity and a willingness not to make excuses, most of us can find time that works for us. For instance, I read while working out on the treadmill. Not only does it make the workout more enjoyable, but I’m exercising my mind. Also, thanks to modern technology, I can usually read for a few minutes on my Evo tablet after the lights are out and I’m in bed.

Different times may work for you, but here’s this week’s challenge: make reading a good book a priority. Figure out a time, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, and then do it. If you’re looking for some ideas for books to read, here are a few of my top favorites.

Who doesn’t love books that take us on a hero’s journey? Whether fictional or non-fictional, these books inspire us with courage for our own life’s journey:

  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
    Besides offering a fascinating look at life in 19th century England, this book offers an imperfect but courageous heroine who’s willing to sacrifice profoundly to be true to God and her convictions.
  • Christy, by Catherine Marshall
    Based on the experiences of Catherine’s mother, this book tells the story of Christy Huddleston. Raised in affluence, Christy accepts a teaching post at a backwoods mission. The book’s faith and humor make it both uplifting and delightful, even as it tackles some of the hard questions of life.
  • And There Was Light, by Jacques Lusseyran
    This autobiography is about courage on two levels: Jacques was blinded as a child and learned to see in a new way. Then, as a teen, he was one of several leaders in an underground resistance movement against Hitler until they were betrayed and he was sent to a concentration camp. His story is all the more riveting because it really happened.

I love the following books because they invite me to think about spiritual things, including my spiritual progress:

  • The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis
    In this allegory, a fantasy of the afterlife, a bus leaves heaven each day to invite those in the lower regions to come experience the higher realm. Many aren’t even willing to accept the offer, and those who do usually end up taking the bus back down. Their experiences offer insights into the excuses we may make as we sabotage our own happiness.
  • Anytime, Anywhere by John H. Groberg
    You’re probably most familiar with Elder Groberg from the book and movie, The Other Side of Heaven, based on his experiences as a young missionary. This book continues his inspiring story as he and his family go where the Lord calls them, anytime, anywhere.
  • The Lord’s Question, by Dennis Rasmussen
    This gentle, poetic book is hard to read quickly, because each sentence invites introspection and pondering on questions the Lord asks us through the scriptures.
  • Prayers that Bring Miracles, by Stephen M Bird.
    The central message of this book is effective prayer, and it’s filled with memorable (and well-documented) stories to encourage readers to make their prayers more meaningful. This is a book you’ll want to read more than once.

Finally, since all of us experience sorrow and loss in our lives, here are several books that have given me strength in dark times and hope in grief:

  • A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis
    Lewis had strengthened the faith of many, but his own deep faith was put to the test after the death of his wife, Joy. In these journal excerpts, he shares his experience of coping with and growing through loss.
  • “I, the Lord, Have Seen Thy Sorrow,” by Ruth Davidson
    Although this book is written specifically to help spouses dealing with infidelity, its Christ-centered approach is deeply helpful in dealing with other kinds of betrayal and pain as well.
  • Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, by Mary Beth Chapman
    Personal, vulnerable and profound, this book recounts the experience of Mary Beth Chapman and her family after the death of her beloved daughter in an accident. (See A Different Kind of Stewardship

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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