I have a post up over at The Junto this morning reflecting on my audiobook listening habits. I note there, among other things, that “audiobooks … have become a means of helping me keep up with scholarship outside of early America (including periods and subjects I will likely need to teach at some future point), introducing myself to historical subjects in which I am peripherally interested (including the history of sport, the history of food), and of listening to popular and academic histories that fit under the broad umbrella of ‘early American history’ that I might not find time to read in the immediate future.” While writing that post, my thoughts turned to the relative dearth of quality audiobooks on subjects that fall under the large umbrella of Mormon Studies.
My reasons for wanting to listen to Mormon Studies audiobooks largely mirror the reasons cited in the first paragraph — it would be a convenient way to keep up with a field I remain committed to and interested in but one in which my current research does not fall. Given the general success of books in the subfield published by major university and trade presses over the last few years, I am a little surprised that more have not been recorded as audiobooks. Looking back through the library of audiobooks I’ve purchased, downloaded, and listened to over the last three or four years (a library of 50+ volumes), I realized that it included only one Mormon title — our very own Matt Bowman’s excellent survey of Mormon history. A quick search for “Mormon,” “LDS,” and “Latter-day Saints” in Audible.com’s library turns up an odd mix of ex-Mormon narratives, nineteenth-century faith promoting titles, a couple of volumes either for or against Mitt Romney, and only a small handful of Mormon Studies titles (including, most promisingly, Terryl Givens’s The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction and Spencer Fluhman’s A Peculiar People). The only biography of Joseph Smith available is Alex Beam’s American Crucifixion [edit: I somehow missed Robert Remini’s short and accessible biography of JS.]. The offerings at University Press Audiobooks are even slimmer.
Does anyone know why this is the case, given the relative success of Mormon Studies titles in print and electronic mediums over the last several years? And, in order to try and make this post slightly constructive, which Mormon Studies titles would you most like to see recorded as audiobooks? I think any of the several excellent biographies in the field would work wonderfully as audiobooks, including Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling, Grow and Givens’s bio of Parley Pratt, Newell and Avery’s Mormon Enigma, and Greg Prince’s biography of David O. McKay. Fawn Brodie and Juanita Brooks’s classics in the field are often mentioned in conversations of the best-written works of Mormon history, and Ron Walker’s Wayward Saints is a lively narrative of a fascinating often overlooked aspect of Mormon history and would work well as an audiobook, too.
What do you think, readers?