Classic Books Every LDS Member Should Read

Unofficial and Quasi-Official Books Necessary for Any LDS Library

This list does not include anything officially published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon). Although some works have quasi-official status, all are the work of individual men.

Classic LDS book lists will change over time. For example, with the Church's series of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, material previously available only in classic books is available in those manuals. So, some books that would have been included in the past can be dropped, such as Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Discourses of Brigham Young, Gospel Doctrine or Gospel Ideals.

Most of the books below have gone through multiple editions and printings and are available in many formats. Some of these earlier editions are available free online. If no free source exists, the link will go to Deseret Book, the publisher and bookstore chain owned by the Church.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards

Legendary missionary and church leader, LeGrand Richards, first penned this book to assist missionaries in teaching the gospel. Published as a book in 1950, it remains a classic, perhaps the classic LDS book and it is still a bestseller.

Elder Richards wit, engaging personality and deep personal faith make this an engaging, as well as an informative, read. The book's title was taken from Isaiah. It will continue to be the definitive explanation of the LDS faith and its practices. It is a must read.

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

James E. Talmage died in 1933, but his work continues to live. Notice how often he gets quoted in official curriculum materials, as well as by others. His is an enduring legacy.

Hell had good reason to howl when Talmage joined the Church. He wrote four of the classic books on this list.

Talmage was asked by church leaders to compile this book and he completed the task in the Salt Lake Temple in a room set aside for him and this purpose. The Church currently provides an audiobook on its official site.

Still part of the Missionary Reference Library sold by the Church and intended for full-time missionaries, this classic book will continue to set the standard for gospel scholarship.

The Great Apostasy by James E. Talmage

If you doubt the necessity of a restoration of the gospel, you will not after reading this book. Talmage clearly explains the conditions that existed right after the apostolic period and into Joseph Smith's time:

... a general apostasy developed during and after the apostolic period, and that the primitive Church lost its power, authority, and graces as a divine institution, and degenerated into an earthly organization only

The Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage

Talmage was asked by church leaders to construct this book as well, specifically for students.

Compiled from lectures he gave, this is evident from the chapter titles. Many of the lectures bridged two class periods.

As the book title infers, Talmage expands on the basic truths of the Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith.

The House of the Lord by James E. Talmage

In the early 1900's, while the Salt Lake Temple was closed for renovation, some people gained unauthorized access and snapped 68 photos of the interior. They demanded $100,000 in a letter to the First Presidency to keep them from going public with the photos.

Enraged, President Joseph F. Smith declared he would not negotiate with blackmailers. As a preemptive action, Talmage suggested releasing official pictures and information about temples ourselves. Church leaders liked Talmage's idea, assigned him to implement it and this book was born.

It included pictures of the Salt Lake Temple interior, as well as other temples. Subsequent editions omitted the image of the Holy of Holies, as well as included new pictures and information.

(Access the article by David Rolph Seely for the full story behind the book.)

The Holy Temple by Boyd K. Packer

President Boyd K. Packer. Photo courtesy of © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

This is more of a handbook for members rather than geared for outsiders like Talmage's book was. Still a classic, modern editions often include beautiful illustrations.

Note: This book has been excerpted extensively in church publications. In fact, the mini pamphlet book, Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, is simply an abridged version of Packer's book and is available free on the Church's official website.

The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball

This is a repentance how-to and message of hope that stemmed from Kimball's years of counseling members about the forgiveness process.

Significant excerpts and quotes from this book are included in numerous church curriculum materials. It is certainly one of the most relied upon sources outside of official materials.

Modern readers may object to some word usage and tone. Its straightforward handling of homosexual behavior and adultery is considered somewhat harsh by today's standards, but Kimball's book is still a must read for any LDS member.

Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball

Amazed at the reception to The Miracle of Forgiveness, Kimball compiled this book and it also quickly became a classic. His poignant teachings on many gospel subjects still resonate with those learning and trying to live the gospel.

Straightforward prose is Kimball's hallmark. It makes his writing easy to read and applicable, even in this modern age.

Teach Ye Diligently by Boyd K. Packer

President Boyd K. Packer. Photo courtesy of © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

A legendary teacher, Boyd K. Packer, never disappoints on whatever he is teaching. He is certainly at his best when he teaches about teaching.

Designed to help church members teach material of spiritual and moral significance, no LDS library is complete without it.

Life Everlasting by Duane S. Crowther

LDS and others are drawn to stories about the afterlife or visits to it. These accounts can be narrative, anecdotal, scholarly, scientific or even skeptical. However, none seem to rise to the standard of this book.

Well researched, well reasoned and well crafted, this book leads them all. It is more comprehensive and encompassing than any of its counterparts and its classic status is well-deserved.

Though he's authored many others, Crowther's reputation can stand on this book alone.

The Work and the Glory Series by Gerald Lund

Elder Gerald N. Lund of the Seventy speaking at general conference - April 2008, Saturday afternoon session. Photo courtesy of © 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Nine books in all, there is not a better way to learn church history. The saga of the fictitious Steed family covers every church event and knits it into a coherent whole.

These historical fiction novels were a sensation as they were being written. Everyone eagerly anticipated the next installment and bemoaned the time it took.

Now complete, they are modern classics. Learning history should be easy and fun and Lund makes it so.

What About Other Classics?

Obviously, other classics exists. The Church and others publish a dizzying array of books. While people may argue that additional books should be added to the list, they cannot argue against any of the books currently on it.

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Cook, Krista. "Classic Books Every LDS Member Should Read." Learn Religions, Sep. 9, 2021, Cook, Krista. (2021, September 9). Classic Books Every LDS Member Should Read. Retrieved from Cook, Krista. "Classic Books Every LDS Member Should Read." Learn Religions. (accessed June 3, 2023).