Ben S.’s post at Times and Seasons about expanding the missionary library and the subsequent discussion made me wonder what other missions were like in terms of what kinds of texts were available. I ask because there wasn’t a whole lot available in my mission beyond the mission library. The Work and the Glory was somewhat popular but even that was eventually discouraged by the mission president. I heard about Nibley but I wasn’t aware of any missionaries reading him. Some Skousen made the rounds (tapes and books). Extra reading material seemed to consist of Mormon Doctrine and Lectures on Faith and a few pamphlets. Those who wanted to do extra study would study that stuff. To make it through Talmage was considered a bit of a feat. Truman Madsen’s Joseph Smith lectures didn’t even circulate on my mission.
I did like to study but focussed on the scripture and Talmage. I wasn’t too impressed with the Skousen that I got ahold of and I developed the opinion that a lot of the “extra” stuff was problematic (I viewed McConkie in the same light). My favorite area in terms of reading was my last. The missionaries had converted a Jehovah’s Witness and he gave them his library of stuff, about 10 books. I really liked learning about other religions, so that was fun. Also in that area, we tracked into a Muslim who gave us a book explaining Islam. I really liked that. Other than some books my folks sent me for refuting anti-Mormon augments, not much else.
So what did you read on your mission and what was the culture like for passing around texts? What kinds of texts circulated? If you read a lot of extra stuff, how did you get a hold of it?