Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Books

Andrew and I read together last night an old email from his wonderful scholarly father that was a wonderful compilation of quotes from church history about books and study.  Enjoy!

Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion 296

We are commanded in D&C 109:14-16 . . . to build a house of study.  There people were to "seek . . . out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118).  A list of the best books had not yet been supplied.  We must find these ourselves by diligently searching.  If the scriptures bind the worlds together, the writings of man bind together the generations and the dispensations.

Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine 235

Read good books. Learn to sing and to recite, and to converse upon subjects that will be of interest to your associates, and at your social gatherings, instead of wasting the time in senseless practices that lead only to mischief and sometimes to serious evil and wrongdoing; instead of doing this, seek out of the best books knowledge and understanding. Read history. Read philosophy, if you wish. Read anything that is good, that will elevate the mind and will add to your stock of knowledge, that those who associate with you may feel an interest in your pursuit of knowledge and of wisdom.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 304

With the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read. "Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). In your reading you would do well to follow the counsel of John Wesley's mother:  Avoid "whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, [and] increases the authority of the body over the mind."

The fact that a book or publication is popular does not necessarily make it of value. The fact that an author wrote one good work does not necessarily mean that all his books are worthy of your reading. Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other people's garbage. It is harder to purge the mind of rotten reading than to purge the body of rotten food, and it is more damaging to the soul.
Brigham Young, JD 9:174, January 26, 1862

Novel reading--is it profitable? I would rather that persons read novels than read nothing. There are women in our community, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, and sixty years of age, who would rather read a trifling, lying novel than read history, the Book of Mormon, or any other useful print. . . . I would advise you to read books that are worth reading; read reliable history, and search wisdom out of the best books you can procure. How I would be delighted if our young men would do this, instead of continually studying nonsense.
As a side note, there were also two interesting and relevant food news stories on NPR this morning, one bad one good:

I can't find the original NPR story, but this is about the same study

Nut consumption reduces risk of death


  1. Your father-in-law sounds like a wise man. I am about to say farewell to the public schools come winter break and begin a homeschooling journey with my kids, and it will largely be made up of all the wonderful classic books from each academic subject. I am very excited and I loved reading these quotes you shared. Thank you!

    1. Wow! What an adventure! Let us know how it's going!

  2. "It is the mark of a truly educated [wo]man to know what not to read...Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other people's garbage." I love that!

    I recently read a novel (my first in a long time) at the recommendation of a friend. Afterward Cameron --- who is always reading dense history books --- asked me what I learned. I didn't have to reflect long at all to answer "nothing." I LOVE novels, and on occasion read one that changes me permanently. But this one did nothing to enlighten me or motivate me, and although it was an interesting story I really feel like it was a waste of time.

    Does anyone else sometimes wish you lived back when books were rare? It's so hard to get to everything on my list!!!

    1. In fairness to my friend, I am reading another of her recommendations right now and LOVE it. Just in case she ever finds this blog and knows who she is. :)