Thomas S. Monson and Boyd K. Packer.


At 01:44 PM 11/08/2002 -0900, you wrote:

Why do you suppose the Lord repeats himself so many times in commanding us to study words of wisdom out of the best books? Is he referring only to the scriptures? Or does he want us to seek out and read the best books in other fields?

If I want to read a biology book, do I want to read a book that is merely good, or among the best? Or do I want to read the best one? And so it is in any field of interest. Reading one "best book" is worth reading dozens or even hundreds of others.

Unfortunately, many people are too intellectually lazy to do the work necessary to find out which book is the best one. But over the long term it is worth it because one learns so much more from a "best book."

After the scriptures what is the best book on gospel doctrine? My present choice would be THE TEACHINGS OF THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH edited by Joseph Fielding Smith. I think that the MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS by Spencer W. Kimball is a better and more important book, but it is more a book on practicing the religion than on doctrine.

Some might object that it is impossible to determine a "best book," that which book is best is in the eye of the beholder. It is a subjective evaluation. And so it is. So when I say "best book," I mean in your opinion what is the best book? Ultimately the individual reader has to be the one to make that determination. To my way of thinking, it is a cop out to set aside the task of determining the best book just because someone else may have a different opinion. Determining a best book requires that a person be familiar with the literature, and know who are the most respected authors. One could consider drawing up a select list of "among the best books," and then determine his own "best book" according to his own needs, personality and taste.

This is just the way my mind works. Sometimes I am more interested in reading the stacks at a library than I am in reading any of the books. For me the bibliography at the end of a book is in some cases more interesting than the book itself.

We always need to remember that a book written by a single author is a look into his mind and way of thinking. Even in the most math-like subjects, the author reveals himself by what he chose to include and what he chose to exclude. And some personalities reverberate more than others in our interpersonal relationships, so why should we not assume that the same chemistry is at work in our choice of an authors?

I cannot say that Boyd K. Packer is the best speaker among the currently living apostles and prophets. But I can say that he is the best speaker by my judgement and criteria. And defending my choice could be an entertaining and educational experience.

What do you think? What are some of the "best books" in your opinion?

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