06282017
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General conference literary challenge: How many have you read?

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General-conference-literary-guide

Who said it?

We’re all familiar with President Thomas S. Monson’s plentiful references to poetry, music, and literature. But — surprise — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf cited more books in this list than any other Church leader. Presidents Monson and Uchtdorf each quoted from about two dozen books in the last five years of general conference sessions. Elders Quentin L. Cook and D. Todd Christofferson came in third and fourth, with Elders Jeffrey R.  Holland and Dallin H. Oaks each contributing a handful as well.

Sprinkled amidst the references to scriptures, previous conference talks and Church-published books, speakers at general conference occasionally cite non-LDS texts. Over the last five years, prophets and apostles have referenced or quoted from more than 100 non-LDS books during general conference sessions. How many have you read?

  1. A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
  2. A History of Christianity, Volumes 1 and 2 by Kenneth Scott Latourette
  3. A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles” selected by H. L. Mencken (a quote by Cicero was specifically cited in general conference)
  4. A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  5. A Touch of Greatness: Encounters with the Eminent” by R.M. Lala
  6. Abortion and Divorce in Western Law: American Failures, European Challenges“ by Mary Ann Glendon
  7. Abraham Lincoln, the First American” by David Decamp Thompson
  8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
  9. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church” by Kenda Creasy Dean
  10. American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell
  11. As You Like It” by William Shakespeare
  12. As You Like It ShakespeareBad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics” by Ross Douthat
  13. Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston
  14. Change Your Life!” compiled by Allen Klein (a quotation from William Arthur Ward was specifically cited in general conference)
  15. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
  16. Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryChoices That Change Lives” by Hal Urban
  17. Christ the Healer” by F.F. Bosworth
  18. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010” by Charles Murray
  19. Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain
  20. Fast and Slow: Poems for Advanced Children and Beginning Parents” by John Ciardi (the poem “Fast and Slow” was specifically cited in general conference)
  21. Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  22. Fiddler on the Roof” by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick
  23. From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life“ by Jacques Barzun
  24. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” by Ben Carson
  25. God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
  26. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” by William Shakespeare
  27. Home: The Savior of Civilization” by J. E. McCulloch
  28. Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
  29. Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en
  30. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg (this book was cited as one of “many voices now telling women how to live”)
  31. Lectures on Education” by Horace Mann
  32. Legacy: The History of the Utah National Guard” by Richard C. Roberts
  33. Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
  34. Letters and Papers from Prison” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  35. Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great, Book 2” by Elbert Hubbard
  36. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela” by Nelson Mandela
  37. Nelson Mandela Long Walk to FreedomMaking the Most of Yourself” by Sterling W. Sill (Douglas Malloch’s “Good Timber” was specifically cited in general conference)
  38. Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys” by Kay S. Hymowitz (this book was cited as part of a list of recent titles that illustrate “the challenges of men and boys”)
  39. Masterpieces of Religious Verse” edited by James Dalton Morrison (William Knox’s “Mortality” was specifically cited in general conference)
  40. Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
  41. More Things in Heaven and Earth: Adventures in Quest of a Soul“ by Robert Blatchford
  42. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta” edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk
  43. Mother TeresaMother Teresa: Helping the Poor” by William Jay Jacobs (a poem by Rabindranath Tagore was specifically cited in general conference)
  44. My Life for the Poor: Mother Teresa of Calcutta” edited by José Luis González-Balado and Janet N. Playfoot
  45. Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth
  46. Past and Present” by Thomas Carlyle
  47. Poems by Robert Burns” by Robert Burns (the poem “The Cotter’s Saturday Night” was specifically mentioned in general conference)
  48. Poems of the English Race” edited by Raymond Macdonald Alden (Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Sir Galahad” was specifically cited in general conference)
  49. Poetical Works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (the poem “Will” was specifically cited in general conference)
  50. Pursuit: The Chase and Sinking of the Bismarck” by Ludovic Kennedy
  51. Pursuit Bismarck Ludovic KennedyRoughing It” by Mark Twain (this author was cited as an example of those who use humor to disparage the Book of Mormon)
  52. Shadowlands” by William Nicholson (a play portraying C.S. Lewis)
  53. Share Jesus without Fear” by William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd
  54. Something Beautiful for God” by Malcolm Muggeridge
  55. Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton
  56. Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults” by Christian Smith
  57. Stranger to the Ground” by Richard Bach
  58. Super Sid: The Story of a Great All Black” by Bob Howitt
  59. Run to Win: Vince Lombardi on Coaching and Leadership“ by Donald T. Phillips
  60. The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation” edited by Diane Ravitch (John Gillespie Magee’s poem, “High Flight,” was specifically cited in general conference)
  61. The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp“ by William H. DaviesAutobiography of a Super-Tramp
  62. The Battle of Britain: The Greatest Air Battle of World War II“ by Richard Hough and Denis Richards
  63. The Best Loved Religious Poems” edited by James Gilchrist Lawson (Eliza M. Hickok’s poem “Prayer” was specifically cited in general conference)
  64. The Book of Positive Quotations” compiled by John Cook (a quote by Leonardo da Vinci was specifically cited in general conference)
  65. The Complete Poems of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali” edited by  S. K. Paul (the poem “The Song That I Came to Sing” was specifically cited in general conference)
  66. The Complete Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier” (the poems “Maud Muller” and “Conduct [From the Mahabharata]” were specifically cited in general conference)
  67. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (the poem “The Legend Beautiful” was specifically cited in general conference)
  68. The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes” (the poem “The Voiceless” was specifically cited in general conference)
  69. The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth” (the poem “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” was specifically cited in general conference)
  70. The Day We Found the Universe” by Marcia Bartusiak
  71. The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It” by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita D. Coulombe (this book was cited as part of a list of recent titles that illustrate “the challenges of men and boys”)
  72. The Discourses of Epictetus; with the Encheiridion and Fragments” translated by George Long
  73. The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” by Hanna Rosin (this book was cited as part of a list of recent titles that illustrate “the challenges of men and boys”)
  74. The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  75. The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom
  76. Hiding Place Corrie Ten BoomThe Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien
  77. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” by Alfred Edersheim
  78. The Life and Work of St. Paul” by Frederic W. Farrar
  79. The Life of Christ“ by Frederic W. Farrar
  80. The Life of King Henry V” by William Shakespeare
  81. The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  82. The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare
  83. The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard: Mottoes, Epigrams, Short Essays, Passages, Orphic Sayings and Preachments” by Elbert Hubbard II (a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson was specifically cited in general conference)
  84. The Oxford Book of English Verse” edited by Christopher Ricks
  85. The Reformation” by Diarmaid MacCulloch
  86. The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis
  87. The Seven Deadly Sins Today” by Henry Fairlie
  88. The Seventh Step” by Bill Sands
  89. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
  90. The Writings of John Bradford” edited by Aubrey Townsend
  91. Themes and Variations” by Aldous Huxley
  92. Thoughts in Solitude” by Thomas Merton
  93. Twelve Tests of Character” by Harry Emerson Fosdick
  94. To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight” by James Tobin
  95. To Conquer the Air James TobinTyndale’s New Testament” edited by David Daniell
  96. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith
  97. Why There Are No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman” by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (this book was cited as part of a list of recent titles that illustrate “the challenges of men and boys”)
  98. Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind” by Richard Whitmire (this book was cited as part of a list of recent titles that illustrate “the challenges of men and boys”)
  99. William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner” by William Hague
  100. Wisdom for the Soul” by Larry Chang (words by both Dale Carnegie and Mahatma Gandhi were specifically cited in general conference)

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6 Responses to "General conference literary challenge: How many have you read?"

  1. Mark Egan says:

    Thanks for this great list!

    Can you provide info on which talks each book was cited in, or at least by which speakers? This would be a great way to gain some additional insights into LDS leaders’ thoughts and personalities.

    I’m particularly curious about who cited to “Stranger to the Ground” by Richard Bach, one of my favorite books from several decades back (I’m guessing it was referenced by Robert D. Hales, who flew the same type of jets – but I don’t recall hearing him mention it).

    Thanks!

    • Ashley Dickson says:

      Hi Mark. “Stranger to the Ground” was actually mentioned by President Uchtdorf in his 2011 address, “Your Potential, Your Privilege.”

      Unfortunately, we did not publish the speakers with each book, as we feared it would make the list too long to look through! (And some titles were mentioned multiple times — by different speakers.) But for any of these books, you could Google the title with the phrase “general conference” or “LDS,” and the talk will likely pop up as one of your first search results. Let us know if you have any other questions!

      • Becky says:

        Hi Ashley,
        Thanks for a great article! I noticed you said it would make the post too long to include which speaker(s) quoted or mentioned which books. Would it be too much to ask for an email copy of your list with that information, if you have compiled it for yourself? I would be very interested in that.
        Thanks!

  2. Rachel says:

    This is such a nice list. Of all of them, _The Little Prince_ is my favorite. It makes me smile every time.

  3. Diane Cooke says:

    I have been racking my brain trying to find which Apostle mentioned 1958 – Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. My googling adventures have not helped. I know I read it recently, in my studies, it was general conference and it was an Apostle, I am quite sure. Though I could be wrong.

    • Diane Cooke says:

      Found it. 🙂

      “This means to me that “spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.” From Thomas Merton’s, Thoughts in Solitude (1956), 46.

      https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/providing-in-the-lords-way?lang=eng

      I was so shocked to see this, and it opened my eyes to how well read our Apostles are, and how open minded. After reading this conference talk, I researched Merton and my eyes were further opened. Our Apostle, as well as the Dalai Lama cite this man. He was a passionate proponent of Peace. And they are still publishing his works, many years after his death in 1968. Amazing body of work, all contemplating Christ and what Jesus would choose to do when confronted with these modern times.

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