“I am so excited for you to read it!” said Lani (her voice is the best, the kind you want to hear on self-help tapes).
Her excitement came from my un-American confession that I had never read To Kill A Mockingbird. Allow me this, when you are an American (as I am) and you have not read To Kill A Mockingbird you feel like you are left out of a very epic and timeless inside joke. Americans feel like they have a personal affair with the characters in that book. My sister named her dog Scout (who is Scout? I didn’t know). My cousin named her brown-eyed boy Atticus (Attic? No, Atticus). The name Boo Radley is one I recognize as well as my own. Bookstores, websites, lizards -all taking the names of strange character names sometimes ending in Finch.
Lately the scripture from Doctrine and Covenants 109:7 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith has been echoing in my mind. (Perhaps it’s echoing because my mind is a bit empty these days.) To quiet the voice in my head (this is not the first time) I have decided to seek out the “best books”-only I don’t always know what that means.
I think the “best books” is literature that makes the reader stretch (mentally speaking.) Not to plug Segullah (but, to plug Segullah) I’ve put our latest issue “Cleave Unto Charity” in a high traffic area of our home. Every day or so I will stop and read an essay, cry and think. Even my husband, who after reading a few pieces became inspired and changed his mind on charity-related issues (our publication is for all!)
Over Christmas vacation I was wondering around Barnes and Noble in Twin Falls, Idaho smelling the decaf and perusing the new age nutrition books. I wanted to read a book on nutrition philosophy. I had noticed (and blamed on Girls Camp) that ever since July my mind had stopped working properly. My once proud ability to understand and promote good nutrition had suddenly disappeared around Pioneer Day (a holiday that us Utah folks enjoy late in July). When I had read a few chapters of that book about French women being skinny and generally better in every way than their American counterparts (but did they ever read To Kill A Mockingbird?, I wonder) I felt very helpless. I started down the self-help aisle, shiny head shot-ed authors were smiling (mocking?) me. I read their titles. Seven Highly Habits, Seven Days of Saving Yourself, Seven Confessions of a Sultry Smart Woman. Generally, the number seven gives me the creeps (2007 is going to be crummy) so the title of the book I bought had to be void of the number seven. I was hard pressed.
It was then I heard a voice. That same echoy voice that I admitted to (see third paragraph) hearing regularly.
“Courtney?” It asked.
“What?” I replied (not out loud, in my mind)
“When was the last time you read the Book of Mormon?” It asked.
I slumped down on a black plastic shelving stool. I knew my problem.
I had read the entire Book of Mormon in three weeks in June, (right before a trip to Europe where I rubbed shoulders with skinny French women) but since then, turned my focus on the more-modern Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
The Book of Mormon is the “best book” of all. It is no coincidence that my failings coincided with my conclusion of it’s pages in June (it also helps with any alliteration problems you might be having).
Under the tree this year there were two books awaiting my unwrap. The first one was To Kill a Mockingbird. I remember Lani explaining that when she was reading this classic she grew more sad as she came closer to the end of the book. “I didn’t want it to be over” she said. I almost read all of it on New Years Day, and had to stop myself as I felt the same way. I’ve asked myself to slow down to a chapter a day (will they ever see Boo Radley?) (Don’t answer that.)
The other book was the Book of Mormon.
It was nice to hang out with Nephi again. I am feeling better already.
What is on your “best books” list?