Monday, July 28, 2014


No, this book is not about the band, although that thought crossed my mind as I wrote the title. K.I.S.S. is a book written by Vickey Pahnke for teenagers on how to improve their relationships. The acronym stands for Kindness, Involvement, Sense of humor, and Service. Making these four things a part of who we are makes us a better and more attractive person in any relationship.

The first four chapters of the book are based on these principles, but then the author expands the topic of relationships and discusses further ways of improving their quality. She talks about communication, appreciating differences, becoming the right person, choosing and maintaining high standards, and being wise with choices in friends. The author has a special way of getting down to earth with the reader so that the reader can take an honest inventory of his/her life.

My favorite part of this book was about the Savior. After talking about the importance of choosing good friends, Pahnke states that the most important friend to choose is the Savior Jesus Christ. The author bears testimony from personal experience of the Savior's love and involvement in our lives. Her testimony is powerful because she is so real and honest, give her undeniable credibility. By improving our relationship with the Savior, we will be able to improve our relationships with everyone else.

This book is meant to have a positive impact on the reader, but the author admits this will only happen if he/she acts on the principles taught therein. To help the reader act, at the end of each chapter the author has a list of suggestions that the reader can do to begin incorporating these principles. These suggestions are meant to only be a starting point as the reader sets out on an individual quest to improve each relationship.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dating for Under a Dollar

Blair Tolman gave me a copy of his book Dating for Under a Dollar while he was my seminary teacher. I actually got to choose it among a few other books he had written because I memorized all of the Book of Mormon scripture mastery. I have read it all the way through a few times, but I thought I might as well read it again and review it here on my blog.

Since this is written by a seminary teacher, you can imagine that he targets a teen audience. Hence, most of the date ideas are for group dates. Tolman actually divides the categories into large group dates, group dates, group or single dates, and single dates. A lot of the ideas are really fun, and most of the time the only expense needed for the date is gas for the vehicle.

I will only give an example of one date from the book, and this is a particular favorite of mine. It is called fifty wishes. The idea is to use your dollar to get a couple rolls of pennies from the bank. Then take your date to a fountain somewhere and take turns tossing in a penny and making a wish. I am fond of this date idea, because my wife and I did something very similar. Except we didn't use pennies. We exchanged a list of 112 wishes with each other and explained why we had those wishes. It was a neat experience that helped us learn more about the other. Now my wife and I have a goal to fulfill our 112 wishes together.

There are many dating idea books out there, but this is one I would definitely recommend for teenagers.

Friday, July 25, 2014

From First Date to Chosen Mate

I believe I was given a copy of Brenton G. Yorgason’s From First Date to Chosen Mate when I turned sixteen. I read parts of it on and off throughout the years. Ironically, now that I have married for three years, I finally read the whole book from cover to cover. The book is filled with fantastic advice for anybody in the dating stage, no matter what part of that stage you’re in.

My favorite part of this book is a story that the author reprints of a first date from the perspective of both the girl and the guy. The purpose of the story is to show how guys and girls think differently and the importance of good communication, but it does so in a very humorous manner. From the girl’s perspective, the date is a complete disaster, while the guy ends up falling head over heels for her.

This book also talks about the importance of setting boundaries, especially as far as physical affection goes. It made me reflect on my own experience dating Amy. We had standards set from the very beginning and it made our courtship easy. I can therefore highly endorse the author’s counsel.

Another neat aspect of this book, especially for teenagers, is a chapter that really focuses on what love is and how to differentiate it from infatuation. Using the checklist of feelings provided, a couple can determine how to make their relationship more substantial. All in all, it’s a great book containing principles that will never become outdated, because when all is said and done, the principles contained in this book are centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Welcome Home

A lot of books are written for people preparing to serve missions, but very little has been written for those returning home. Joe J. Christensen's book Welcome Home: Advice for the Returned Missionary is an excellent book to help returned missionaries retain all that they have learned and become and also helps them apply it to the rest of their lives.

Christensen addresses several practical areas of a returned missionary's life. One would expect a chapter and dating, and this certainly receives a lot of attention in the book. But the author also covers choosing a career, education, social interaction (not just dating, but creating a basic social life), physical exercise, and even dress and grooming.

Perhaps the most important part of the book is on how to maintain the level of spirituality that one has on a mission. The answer is very simple: continue to do what you did as a missionary! Continue reading the scriptures and praying with real intent. Continue to magnify your calling, whatever it may be. Continue to look for opportunities to serve. Avoid degrading music. These might seem simple, but these are the very things that missionaries do every day for two years. That is why they have the Spirit! In order to maintain the Spirit in everyday life, we need to do the same things.

It's a shame this book is no longer widely available. I think it would be helpful for any returned missionary.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

To the Parting Missionary

This is more of a pamphlet than a book, but it is on my shelf so I am going to count it on this book blog. Don J. Black wrote this little pamphlet called To the Parting Missionary. As you can surely guess, it is a little book of suggestions and recommendations to help a missionary succeed on his/her mission.

The pamphlet is only 15 pages, which lends itself to being used as a quick note/reminder to missionaries. Some of these reminders are positive, such as reminding the missionary to be both happy and enthusiastic. Some reminders are instructive, such as the counsel to keep a journal and to serve honorably. However, to my surprise, the first piece of advice was very sobering.
It was a reminder that Satan is very well aware of missionary work and he seeks to thwart it. Prospective missionaries need to be aware of this as they prepare to leave, as the adversary will do all he can to keep them from going. But then the author reminds us that despite his attempts, Satan can never overpower us unless we let him. Don’t let him!

It is a simple and quick read, but these thoughts could be great daily reminders for missionaries.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Prepare Now to Succeed on Your Mission

Loren C. Dunn was serving as a member of the Seventy at the time he wrote Prepare Now to Succeed on Your Mission. His callings throughout his life have given him multiple opportunities to provide missionary service. Using this experience, he counsels those who plan to serve on what they need to do now in their preparation to help them hit the ground running when they answer their call.

Preparation for a mission begins at an early age. Missionary candidates must qualify themselves through worthiness, capability, and desire. Candidates need to know beforehand about the ups and downs of missionary work. Most returned missionaries don’t dwell on this part of the mission; they dwell on the wonderful spiritual experiences. But missionary candidates needs to know that these great experiences come after experiencing trials. If candidates go into the field expecting missionary work to actually be work, they will have an easier time adjusting.

Some other topics covered by the author include building and maintaining a testimony, having somebody waiting for you while serving a mission, and what parents and others at home can do to support their missionary. One chapter I really enjoyed was about finishing your mission. He declares that in the long run, it is much easier to finish a mission than to leave early. This hit home with me because I have a good friend who left his mission about a year into it and spent a whole year at home. He was miserable during that year, and finally was able to return to the field, in fact, returning to his original mission. He told me once in confidence that he learned that if you leave your mission early, life will not work out for you until you have finished your service to the Lord. Loren C. Dunn concurs with this and says that whether a missionary chooses to stay or leave, his call sticks with him.

Although this is an older book and is out of print, the principles contained in it are eternal and are certain to help any prospective missionary.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What I Wish I'd Known Before My Mission

John Bytheway has a series of "What I Wish I'd Known Before" books, but What I Wish I'd Known Before My Mission is the only one that I own. Like my other mission books, I had read portions of this before I left, didn't finish it, and didn't pick it up again until now. I am so glad I decided to finish it! My favorite thing about this book is the memories it brought back from my own mission. It has such an air of openness and honesty about what a mission is like.

One of the things I liked most about this book is that the author does not try to take the place of the MTC. In fact, his goal is to help enhance the missionary's experience by preparing him/her with the right frame of mind. The book makes the reader excited to serve a mission and to begin serving the Lord. The book takes the missionary through the stages of missionary work, from preparing to leave, to the MTC, to the mission field. He helps prepare the missionary for each stage.

The book is filled with John Bytheway's classic humor, but even more important, it is filled with personal experiences from his mission to support the things he says. The reader has no doubt that the author loved his mission. This book will certainly help missionaries prepare themselves effectively and work to gain the right attitudes for their missions. I highly recommend it and I think few, if any, will be disappointed by it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Neil A. Maxwell Quote Book

I have always been an admirer of Neal A. Maxwell and was sad when he passed away just months before I left for my mission. Years before that, however, his son, Cory H. Maxwell, compiled a variety of quotes and published it as The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book. Twelve years later, it was republished as an illustrated edition. This is the version I purchased and read.

Of course every quote in this book is fantastic. It certainly made me evaluate my life, my thoughts, my attitudes, and my actions. Let me share just a few of my favorite quotes.

"There is a clear and obvious difference between being 'given' a 'thorn in the flesh,' as Paul was, and willingly impaling ourselves on the spears of sin."

"We chose not to follow Lucifer once: let us not go back on that decision now!"

"Unless we fix families, you can't fix anything else. Most of the problems that are most vexing are things government can't fix. They have to be fixed at a different level. That's the urgency of our message. I'd rather have ten commandments than ten thousand federal regulations...Unless we rebuild marriages and families, then we really are just straightening deck chairs on the Titanic."

"Mortality involves teeth to be brushed, beds to be made, cars to be repaired, diapers to be changed, groceries to be bought--such an endless array of mundane matters. In the midst of these, however, is the real business of living--a friendship to be formed, a marriage to be mended, a child to be encouraged, a truth to be driven home, an apology to be made, a Christian attribute to be further developed."

"Priesthood and motherhood are the perfect partnership!"

"When we speak of letting go of the world, this does not mean forgoing its sunsets, its beautiful music, nor, best of all, its people. The 'world' is a way of life that takes us away from, not toward, God. Away from, not toward, happiness. Away from sense to nonsense."

There are many, many more that I could have posted, but I recommend getting the book for yourself and finding your own collection of favorite quotes. I can guarantee you will find many!