I’ve been pondering a phrase from D&C 88:118 today:
Yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
I’ve come to the conclusion that aside from canonized scripture, what constitutes as the best books is completely individual. Each person has their own mission on earth and therefore requires their own learning in their own learning style. As is stated above in the quoted scripture the best books are those that lead us to wisdom. What constitutes a best book for me may merely be a good book for another. Necessary knowledge for one person may be just information for another. For example, a car mechanic may need to study up on the intricacies of the newest engine, however if I were to read such a book it would not increase my wisdom at all because in my life such information would never have an opportunity to be used and likely would never grow from information to knowledge and eventually into wisdom. I do not say this to undermine the importance of general information, knowledge in just one area without information in others makes it difficult to become wise, but I am trying to keep that which is purely informational appropriately prioritized.
It is tempting to take a book written on a spiritual topic and turn it into our sole means of gospel study. Books, or learning of any sort, that is of a spiritual nature can at times be a stepping stone that leads to the interest in studying canonized scripture, or they can be used as companions to enhance your study of scripture, but it should never replace the use of scripture. If it does replace the use of scripture I feel that it would automatically take a book that has the possibility of being a best book and relegating it to the status of only being a good book as a best book would only enhance eternal gospel truths. Since scripture is, to me, a category of it’s own, I do not list it here. I do fully recognize that you cannot study all the time and taking appropriate rest from study can freshen your mind to enhance further study. So in this list I am also not going to include books whose purpose is entertainment. Maybe another day.
So here is my own personal list of best books. As I list the books that in my life constitute the best books I recognize that in doing so I may only be sharing a list that for you may only be good books. By personal I am not only saying that they are the best books for my journey, but my study of them has been personally motivated and not of reading assignments, although I highly recommend fulfilling the reading assignments given to you via inspired gospel leaders of all levels. I have read all of these books from cover to cover and I highly recommend them as being of at least good value to you with strong possibilities of being best books. In no order other than what I saw in my perusal of my bookshelf:
- Increase in Learning, David A. Bednar
- Act in Doctrine, David A. Bednar
- Power to Become, David A. Bednar
- Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
- The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
- To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson, Heidi S. Swinton
- Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith
- Church History in The Fullness of Times Student Manuel
- Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
- Beloved Emma, Lori E. Woodland
- A Return to Virtue, Elaine S. Dalton
- Daughters in my Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society
- Choose Higher Ground, Henry B. Eyering
- Joseph Smith: The Prophet, Truman G. Madsen
- No Doubt About It, Sheri Dew
- Women and the Priesthood, Sheri Dew
- No One Can Take Your Place, Sheri Dew,
- If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn’t Be Hard, Sheri Dew
- Change Your Questions Change Your Life, Wendy Watson Nelson
- Way to Be, Gordon B. Hinckley
Authors who speak to my learning style make frequent appearances on my list. As I was looking over the books in my bookshelf I found a handful that we have, so I’ve obviously read at least once, but I can’t recall them enough to include them on the list. They are headed to my overburdened nightstand to add to my stack of “to read” books.
I would love to expand my list of books to read! Share with me some of your best books!