Book review: Tara Westover’s “Educated”

For a book that claims not to be about Mormonism, Tara Westover's memoir "Educated" certainly had me worried about Mormonism. While many elements were familiar-- from essential oils to decrying socialism-- I was often left asking, is this the same Mormonism I grew up with?

Book review: “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black

Stormlight Archives has spoiled my taste in fiction in that I now expect a profound engagement of philosophical or moral issues. The Cruel Prince didn't engage the reader at quite that level, and I found the protagonist distasteful as she freely uses others as a means to an end.

Book review: “Truman G. Madsen’s “Joseph Smith the Prophet”

I needed some comfort food this week, so I read Truman G. Madsen's "The Prophet Joseph Smith." Growing up, my dad could quote these lectures like scripture. I think this book perhaps most closely captures why the saints loved him so much. But the saying is definitely true: "Catholics say the pope is infallible, but don't really believe it; Mormons say the prophet is fallible, but don't really believe it."

Book review: “10 Books Every Conservative Must Read” by Benjamin Wiker

Wiker's book claims a lot of ground for the conservative tradition-- he calls on both Chesterton and Lewis, and both Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments, and even Lord of the Rings. But Wiker's vision of conservatism seems very different from the current embodiment of the Republican party. His discussions surrounding self-government, a distributed economy, and cultivation of virtue seem like a call to return to our roots. It is a refreshing reminder that politics shouldn't be entirely defined by what we're against.

Book review: “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me”

What can I possibly have in common with perpetrators of murder and torture? Tavris and Aronson argue, quite a lot. The same patterns you use to justify you yelling at your child or spouse or cheating on a test have been used by governments to justify much worse things-- and still be able to feel like a basically good person. Tavris and Aronson's book really hits hard-- but it's not just a self-help book to become a better person. Self-justification quickly becomes political.

Book review: Saints Vol. II

The Church history department didn't disappoint with Saints Vol II. I will say, this one will be harder to talk about around the dinner table (I already sparked one family fight) A gripping tale with complex characters, moral ambiguity, and great pacing.

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