Call to Action: Mormon Feminist Gift Giving Guide

This year was a fantastic year for Mormon feminist publications and there are many titles that would be the perfect gift for the Mormon Feminist on your list.

Last the Women’s Service Mission published its Holiday Gift Guide which focused on free trade products that help to empower entrepenuers in the developing world. Many of the organizations listed also promote female empowerment through economic sustainability. For those non-bookish types, the Holiday Gift Guide is full of functional everyday items and creative multicultural gift ideas.

Deseret Book has published some wonderful titles in the last few years including: the series Women of Faith in the
Latter Days
Volume 1 and 2. Filled with stories of well-know and lesser known Latter-day Saint, these books profile the lives and experiences of women’s heroism, courage and dedication to their ideals and loved ones.

In a way, these books respond to the request of former Relief Society President Emmeline B. Wells when she said,

“History tells us very little about women; judging from its pages, one would suppose their lives were insignificant and their opinions worthless. Volumes of unwritten history yet remain, the sequel to the written lives of brave and heroic men. But although the historians of the past have been neglectful of woman, and it is the exception if she be mentioned at all; yet the future will deal more generously with womankind, and the historian of the present age will find it very embarrassing to ignore woman in the records of the nineteenth century.” [Source: Emmeline B. Wells, “Self-Made Women,” Woman’s Exponent, March 1, 1881, 148.]

Also published from Deseret Book this year was The Beginning of Better Days: Divine Instruction to Women from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Editted by Sherri Dew and Virginia Pearce, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith as recorded by Eliza R. Snow are widely available for the first time in published form Through the compiling effort, the authors had the following in mind: “We wanted to know where women ‘fit’ in the plan of salvation.  What did the Lord expect of His daughters? What blessings did He have in store for us, and how could we lay hold upon those blessings? In Joseph Smith‘s teachings to the Relief Society, we each found a treasure of guidance, motivation, pure doctrine, and wise prophetic counsel.” The authors, sensing the importance of these words, invite readers to really engage with the texts by providing space for notes on each page as well as offering commentary and exposition at times.

Just published from Deseret Book is The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life written by husband and wife team Terryl and Fiona Givens. The erudity of Fiona, especially, shines throughout this book due in large part to how well read she is and her skill with making prose out of the written word. This book has receieved much critical acclaim from within and outside the church. Some are saying that it is quickly going to become the go-to resource when sharing a detailed explanation of Mormon beliefs with others.

 Independent works that also came out this year and are highly recommended are:

The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth

Written by a number of female Mormon birth professionals, including doulas, childbirth educators and bloggers, the book sensitively offers perspectives on the some of the hardest and often least discussed aspects of childbirth, including miscarriage, infertility, postpartum depression, sexual abuse, traditional birth practices, and informed decision making through a connection with the divine, including Heavenly Mother. The Gift of Giving Life is the perfect gift  to give at baby showers or to new brides. The book truly offers an empowering and inspiring look at the woman’s experience of reproduction. Through Christmas, a 30% off discount is available when you purchase 3 or more copies.

Chocolate Chips and Charity: Visiting Teaching in the Real World by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Written by a contributor to Exponent II, Chocolate Chips and Charity take a realistic view to the challenges of Visiting Teaching and through the words and wisdom of women offers insightful and poignant stories about women’s experiences with Visiting Teaching; making this book a perfect gift for your Visiting Teachers or those you visit teach.

The Book of Mormon Girl written by Joanna Brooks

Featured recently on NPR, the Jon Stewart Show and in the Washington Post and New York Times, Joanna Brooks tells her story of coming of age as a Mormon feminist within the church. It is a honest look at the struggles of finding one’s way through questioning and the confusing mixed messages aimed at women in society, both within and outside the church.

Flunking Sainthood:  A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Reiss

In this ecumenical volume, Jana Reiss, a practicing Mormon writes about the exploration of various religious practices
borrowed from diverse belief systems. Through a year of month long faith experiments, Jana shares with readers the lessons she learns and how her faith is impacted and made the better.

The Place of Knowing by Emma Lou Warner Thayne is described as a “spiritual autobiography” where the author writes about the numerous spiritual experiences she has shared with people around the world. A renowned writer in her 80th year, this book is touching and impactful filled with knowing after severe adversity.

 

Also out this year is Sue Bergin’s Am I a Saint Yet: Healing the Pain of Perfectionism. Writting with those who cling to the checklist in mind, this book offers a way out of the some of the constricting and discouraging expectations that many Latter-day Saints struggle to meet. Containing case studies that show the breadth and diversity of women’s experiences in the church, this book encourages people to express their authentic selves and in so doing find greater joy in living the gospel.

Also published this year was the groundbreaking Motherhood Issue of Sunstone Magazine with beautiful cover art by Galen Dara Smith. Articles by WAVE board members Tresa Edmunds, Chelsea Sheilds Strayer and Jenne Erigero Alderks  are included in the issue on the topics of parenting after abuse, egalitarian parenting arrangements and the history of Latter-day Saint birth attendants. Heavenly Mother is also featured throughout the issue with articles by Robert Rees and Margaret Toscano. The cover and interior art specially commissioned for this issue can also be purchased in the form of greeting cards, posters, t-shirts, journals and even iPad and iPhone covers. 

Last but not least, give the gift of Exponent II to the Mormon women in your life. A year long subscription will bring 4 issues of high quality poetry, art and the written voices of Latter-day Saint women exploring what it means to be a Mormon woman in the contexts of diverse themes features issue by issue. Also available from Exponent is their publication Habits of Being: Mormon Women’s Material Culture which features essays and poetry from a  variety of Mormon women writing about objects they have inherited from their ancestresses. Humorous and heart-breaking, this collection includes works by Linda Hoffman Kimball, Jana Riess, Margaret Toscano, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

 

This last one is not written by Mormons but has inspired many Mormon Feminists in the last few years. Half the Sky was made into a documentary that aired on PBS this fall and both the book and DVD are available for purchase. You may remember that the book Half the Sky inspired Mormon Courtney Cooke to create the organization Talents of Sisters to raise money to donate to efforts around the world to empower women.

 

Are there other publications or items from Mormon Feminist women that you would add to this list? If yes, please include a link and description in the comments! 

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