Summer Reading Lists

By May 9, 2017

Last year, we shared what we planned/hoped to read over the summer. Here are our lists for this summer–be sure to add your own reading lists in the comments!

J Stuart:

This summer I’ll be studying for my comprehensive exams full time. Rather than list the 300 books still on my list, here are three books from each of my three major fields.


  • The Basics: Despite recently starting my PhD in American history, I feel like I still have a lot left to learn of just the basics of the field. In order to do some catching up, I have a few basic American history textbooks, including Give Me Liberty! An American History by Eric Foner. Much of my year thus far has been about thinking about entangled histories and the nuance in historical movements. While I mostly support the movement to complicate ideas about the past, I also have been craving learning some of the foundations. One of my goals this semester is to play with new formats to process and think about historical information and therefore, I want to create a large scale timeline, using some of the basic info that I find in Foner’s book, that will enable me to better visualize American history.
  • Theory: A recent research project has got me thinking a lot about governmentality and surveillance as a means of knowing and controlling populations. Additionally, I have continually seen Foucault’s ideas (as well as Marx) in my readings throughout this semester as authors reference ideas that are indebted to Foucault without actually explaining them. I want to read The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception in order understand the ways that Foucault talks about the epistemic change in medicine. Secondly, I want to read The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction where Foucault discusses investigates the genealogy of how sexuality has been constructed over time. In both these books, I am looking forward to learning more about the ways Foucault grounds the body in discussions about power, sexuality, and governance.
  • Journals: Another goal I have for the summer is to read more Mormon journals. In the fall, I started reading A widow’s tale: the 1884-1896 diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney. Helen’s journal especially has frequent vivid and intimate entries that made me deeply embedded in her life and I look forward to reading more. Additionally, I recently got the Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies by Davis Bitton from the library and look forward to using his descriptions of Mormon diaries as a jumping off place for where to look next in my readings.

Ben P:



  • One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon by Stephen Prothero. As I move deeper into American religious life, both personally and professionally, my reading list amasses more titles that try to elucidate what it is, exactly, that makes American Christianity well, so American.
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir by Michael Hicks. I have listened to countless hours of MoTab music on Pandora in the process of writing my dissertation. As the inauguration controversy in January showed, the choir is still a powerful symbol of Mormonism in America, so it’s high time I read this book.
  • The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History by Robert Tracy McKenzie. It popped up recently on the Religion in American History blog, and it reminded me I own it, but haven’t yet read it. I’m interested in McKenzie’s historiographical and confessional approach, and figured you can never start amassing talking points for Thanksgiving dinner early enough, right?


Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks for putting this together, Joey. Lots of good books! I’m excited to hear if readers have any others.

    Saskia: I really enjoyed McKenzie’s book. I’ve been hoping to see a similarly confessional yet responsible work in the Mormon world.

    Comment by Ben P — May 9, 2017 @ 9:49 am

  2. And Christopher, do tell how you feel about Harris’s book. It looks really good, and I’m always on the lookout for similar texts for survey classes.

    Comment by Ben P — May 9, 2017 @ 9:51 am

  3. I can’t help feeling that I’m usually the last one to arrive at the party.

    On my list: Paul Reeve’s “Religion of a Different Color” (almost finished). Feels like two books to me: (1) A study of Mormonism as victim of race-based anti-Mormonism; and (2) a history of the LDS Church and its priesthood/temple exclusion policy.

    Next, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s “A House Full of Females.” I read an early draft of one of the chapters, and am looking forward to the entire book.

    Non-Mormon books: I’m anxious to finish “Sapiens: Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Noah Harari, which I’m enjoying a lot.

    Fiction: I hope to finish Marcel Pagnol’s “La Gloire de Mon Pere,” a difficult (for me) but immensely rewarding refresher course in French.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — May 9, 2017 @ 10:50 am

  4. I’m a sucker for reading lists. Keep ’em coming, friends!

    I’m trying a kind of eclecticist reading of Kathleen Brown, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America + David Hackett, That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture + Wouter Hanegraff, Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture. Let’s see if I discover anything new about early Latter-day Saint concepts of sanctification 😉

    Comment by D Golding — May 9, 2017 @ 11:11 am


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