Top Ten Books the LDS (Mormon) Church Doesn't Want You to Read

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormon Church as it is more commonly known, definitely has a checkered past when it comes to its dogma and leaders. From the polygamy and polyandry of its leaders to the magical talismans and treasure seeking of its founder, there are plenty of skeletons in the LDS closet.

From its founding, the Mormon Church has been the recipient of both praise and persecution. Early leaders were tarred and feathered by outsiders and the founder was eventually shot for his beliefs. However, the members of the church both high and low "ranked" have also committed atrocities both to non-believers and their own fellow saints.

The Church has had opponents since the start and documentation of its leaders has come in many forms and from many sources. While most of the writings can be discounted as the rantings of disgruntled ex-members and other religious entities, the Church has had a hard time with the recent publications from scholarly, unbiased sources, many coming from within the church.

Below are the books that the LDS church doesn't want people to read. I only included scholarly books that are factual, well-researched, and objectively written. These are not anti-Mormon books as a couple of them are written by members in good standing with the church.

The Top Ten

1 No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith - Fawn M. Brodie

Written in 1945, this book portrays the life of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith in a way rarely seen. To best sum up this book is to quote Marvin S. Hill, a LDS historian at Brigham Young University:

For more than a quarter century Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History has been recognized by most professional American historians as the standard work on the life of Joseph Smith and perhaps the most important single work on early Mormonism. At the same time the work has had tremendous influence upon informed Mormon thinking, as shown by the fact that whole issues of B.Y.U. studies and Dialogue have been devoted to considering questions on the life of the Mormon prophet raised by Brodie. There is evidence that her book has had strong negative impact on popular Mormon thought as well, since to this day in certain circles in Utah to acknowledge that one has "read Fawn Brodie" is to create doubts as to one's loyalty to the Church.

2 Early Mormonism and the Magic World View - D. Michael Quinn

Written by a professor at BYU, this book covers the early evidence of folk magic in Joseph Smith's upbringing. From treasure digging, supernatural creatures, and seer stones, to occult traditions and astrology, This thoroughly researched book includes pictures of LDS church-owned artifacts used by Smith as well as a slew of additional photographs and illustrations verified as authentically Smith-owned and used.

3 In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith - Todd Compton
4 Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling - Richard Bushman

While not discouraged in the same way as the other books on this list, this biography uncovers some unbiased truths that the LDS church certainly doesn't advertise. An eye-opening look into the true life of Joseph Smith as researched and written by a member of the church he started. Not biased toward, or against, the church, this book covers controversial aspects of Smith's life cautiously but thoroughly.

5 The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power - D. Michael Quinn

Covering the first two decades of the Mormon Church's history, Quinn examines how events and doctrines within the church were handled from an organizational and non-religious aspect.

From secret rites and societies within the hierarchy of the church to political endeavors to war with the United States, the early church practiced many things unknown to the majority of members. With doctrines silently and retroactively inserted into the published form of scriptures and records to smooth out the stormy, haphazard development, early church leaders changed the nature of Smith's original non-hierarchical organization and created a bureaucratic business model that is still around today.

6 The Keystone of Mormonism - Arza Evans

Known as the keystone of Mormonism, the Book of Mormon's origins have been debated since it first appeared on the scene. This book exposes the many differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity. It also sheds light on the the true origins of the Book of Mormon.

7 Studies of the Book of Mormon - B. H. Roberts

As a general authority in the LDS church, Roberts was one of two men who were handed the hardest questions posed to the church. This book addresses many of those questions though the nature of the issues are that there are no satisfactory answers.

8 The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff

Inspired by the life of a polygamist wife of Joseph Smith, this novel, while still technically fiction, is also historically accurate at the same time.

9 Mormonism and Masonry - E. Cecil McGavin

The ties between Mormonism and Freemasonry have been studied for ages. While neither side claims to be associated with the other, the links are clear to any objective observer.

10 A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - B. H. Roberts

You would think this book would be canon within the church but, due to the series touching on little-known facts about the Church's history, it is no longer recommended reading for the members. While it is lengthy, when used as a research tool into the history of the church, this volume set exposes questionable practices of the church and its members.

The Contenders

11 An Insider's Guide to Mormon Origins - Grant Palmer
BAdd New Item

Recommended Lists

P