Monday, October 23, 2017

September 2017 Book Report

1. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormanism by Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright

This is unlike any biography of an LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) leader I've ever read. The source material was mainly the minutes and diaries taken by President David O. McKay's secretary, Claire Middlemiss. All the situations detailed in this book are not sugar-coated. I've seen a little bit behind the scenes of Church leaders working through problems and dealing with emergencies when I worked in the Missionary Department. Honestly, knowing that Church leaders are humans with opinions and failings strengthens my testimony. I loved reading how David O. McKay and those who worked with him reacted in volatile situations.

So how did President McKay handle uncomfortable situations? Most of the time he waited. When he would get pressure from many sides to make a decision on something, he would often table the item. From the minutes and diaries of other people in the meeting, it drove a few people bonkers. However, waiting to react was always the right answer. I noticed a few instances when the authors took McKay's slow responses to mean that he couldn't decide what to do. I didn't get that - to me it was inspired to take a step back. Often the First Presidency would get new or more information as time went on.

David O. McKay was the first prophet in this dispensation that had no direct, familial connection with Joseph Smith. I think that's a big key to the Church's growth and the shift in how the business of the Church was conducted. It was really cool to see the beginnings of things like the Institute of Religion program. The president of BYU (Wilkinson) wanted to put Church junior colleges all over the country so that members could get an education that included religious studies. It would have been SO expensive - buying land, setting up campuses, getting instructors all over the country. President McKay kept taking a step back over and over on that project until Elder Boyd K. Packer suggested they have an Institute program at colleges that already existed since they would never be able to get to every member with a junior college here and there. Brilliant. Inspired.

People sometimes got their feelings hurt when President McKay seemed to be listening to one person and not another. There were hardcore Republicans in the same Quorum as Democrats - and this was right after WWII when everyone was a suspected Communist. Elder Ezra Taft Benson was very politically outspoken - even in his General Conference addresses - and there were leaders who absolutely didn't agree with him. President Benson softened over time - I liked that too. Even these wonderful, compassionate, disciplined disciples still had room for improvement and change.

This isn't a book I'd recommend to everyone I know, but I found it very inspiring.

2. Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

A boy meets a robot in the woods one day. They play together and become friends. The robot gets switched off accidentally and the boy tries to help him. The boy gives the robot applesause, reads him a story - things that make the boy feel better when he's sick. Nothing works! When the robot powers back up, the boy is asleep and the bot thinks the boy is malfunctioning. The robot oils the boy, reads an instruction manual, but none of it works.

There's a happy ending, but I won't spoil it. :) Emil and Colin loved this story. The humor was just their speed.

3. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

I saw the trailer for the movie based on this book. Idris Alba! And Kate Winslet is always amazing. A friend told me I had to read the book. Have I told you guys my rule about people telling me what I have to read? I never read something I'm told I have to read. I graduated from college, man! I only read stuff I want to read now! So, I broke my rule for this book and thanks to this book I'll never break it again. (I will always take suggestions, just don't tell me I HAVE to read anything.)

The Mountain Between Us is about two gorgeous, healthy strangers who are stuck in the Salt Lake Airport (SLC) and can't get back to important stuff they have going on in their lives unless they get home fast. The man, an orthopedic surgeon (natch) named Ben Payne arranges for a small private plane to take him and his new friend, Ashley Knox, a beautiful ninja who writes for magazines, to the Atlanta Georgia Airport (ATL). Ashley's getting married in two days to a vague fiance who has a good job and a nice car! Let's get that girl home.

Their pilot and his dog are professors of love and have all sorts of dumb/obvious advice for Ashley about married life. It turns out that Ben has been married for 15 years and he brings his wife orchids every week. Also, we get to endure flashbacks of Ben and his saintly wife meeting in high school, running together on the cross country team, the wife giving Ben a watch, a compass, some underwear, a jacket, a voice recorder. BAH! We're supposed to be getting this picture of a rock-solid relationship based on the super-important gifts Ben and his wife give to each other. It's hollow.

Ashley is the absolute worst, though. When the plane crashes (no spoiler alert there - it's the whole book and the whole movie) in the Uintahs, Ashley has a broken leg. In the book she's never in enough pain for my money. Who makes inane jokes and flirts with a married guy when she's in unspeakable pain and engaged? Most books shy away from the bathroom situation, but this one goes there. A lot. And good thing Ben happened to do some serious hiking while he was at the medical conference in Salt Lake City so he has all the gear you'd ever need if your two-seater airplane crashed in the Uintahs.

I'm not having any of this book. It is crap. It isn't romantic for one second and the big twist at the end was obvious to me two chapters in. I read later that this is a Christian book? What does that mean, exactly? Nevermind, I don't care. The dialogue in the few trailers I've seen for the movie is 10 times better than anything in the book, so maybe the movie is good?

4.Elbert's Bad Word by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood

One of my Mia Maids used this book in her lesson a few weeks ago. I loved it so much! Elbert says a "bad word" (we don't know what it is) that is represented by a green cloud that floats around the illustrations. The pictures are HILARIOUS. Elbert shares his new word at the worst possible times. It's the perfect thing to get first grade boys like mine thinking about what they say and how it affects the people around them.

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