Sunday, January 7, 2007

1996 - Best Books of the Year

A House of Many Rooms: a Family Memoir, Rodello Hunter
An autobiography written for a general YA audience about growing up in Heber, Utah at the beginning of the century. 240 pages.

Cries of Swimmers and Snow on Snow, Maura Stanton
Two slim collections of poems—Utah writer. I recognize the world she describes.

Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition, Jan Shipps
Sympathetic, even-handed non-member author, especially interesting is her discussion of architectural symbolism. 211 pages.

America’s Saints: The Rise of Mormons to Power, Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley
Authors both non-Mormons, mostly even-handed treatment, discussion of the growth of the Mormon church, especially in the Salt Lake Valley. 280 pages.

Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, Wallace Stegner
Unromaniticized, entertaining stories of the travel across the plains by one of the Western US's best writers. 331 pages.

Mormon Sisters, ed. Claudia Bushman
Collection of essays about early Mormon women. 336 pages.

History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, Susa Young Gates
As the title says—but the real treat is the individual sketches of the several women leaders, all written by Susa herself (daughter of Brigham) in her own distinctive, capable, opinionated voice. A heavy tome.

Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Mormons, Leonard Arrington
Very clearly written. Interesting as history, enjoyable as story. 566 pages.

My Love Affair with England, Susan Allen Toth
A memoir of travelling in England. Very human and vulnerable as well as informative. 320 pages

Sisters in Spirit: Mormon women in Historical and Cultural Perspective, ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson
Collection of essays about Mormon women from several points of view. Great black and white Andersen photos of early Springville women. 304 pages.

Sister Saints, ed. Vicky Burgess Olson
Collection of essays focused on individual early Mormon women. Fills in the blanks of Mormon history. Encouraging to know about these good women. 494 pages.

All the Silver Pennies, ed. Blanche Jennings Thompson
Classic 1967 anthology of 20th–century poems for children. 242 pages.

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Hilarious send-up of D.H. Lawrence’s novels. Young London-bred woman brings civilized happiness to a tortured, raw and primal farming family. 307 pages.

A Long Fatal Love Chase, Louisa May Alcott
A very satisfyingly melodramatic novel of pursuit and tragedy and true love. This must have been the book Jo first wrote—too bad she didn’t write more. 242 pages.

Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story, Elizabeth Gaskell
An extremely satisfying novel about a young girl growing up in 19th century England. 684 pages.

Onward and Upward in the Garden, Katherine S. White
A collection of gardening essays that appeared first in the New Yorker. 361 pages.

Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from her Father’s Harem through the Islamic Revolution, Sattareh Farman-Farmaian with Dona Munker
Autobiography of Iranian woman who was the first social worker in her country, written to explain to her daughter her life and her continuing love for her country, despite having had to live in the US as an exile. A powerful and intelligent woman. 404 pages.

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Joseph J. Ellis
Extremely readable and intelligent analysis of a fascinating man. 365 pages.

William Morris: A Life for our Time, Fiona MacCarthy
Biography of a lovable, long-suffering, highly principled man. I love this book. 780 pages.

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