Friday, August 16, 2013

On reading a new copy of the Book of Mormon

I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Book of Mormon. I imagine (conservatively) that we’ve read it at least a dozen times as a family (taking into account years when our children were willing participants in family scripture study and some years when surly teenagers drove our “daily reading” to be a verse long). And I’ve read it at least every four years as part of the Sunday School curriculum. And I taught Book of Mormon in seminary over 25 years ago. And in Institute within the last ten years. And I’ve read it on my own, apart from all those assignments, as well.

In any case, I’ve read it lots of times. And in lots of ways. Over a decade ago, I set out to read it over a weekend (and succeeded). Other times, I’ve labored through a few pages a day or a chapter a day. I’ve read paper copies and electronic copies. I love marking as I read, and part of the sport of reading the same copy more than once is trying to figure out what I was thinking when I wrote a particular note in the margins, and seeing what verses moved me (or didn’t) in a given reading.

I remember hearing when I was at BYU years ago that President Kimball used to read and mark paper copies of the Book of Mormon and then give them to his grandchildren as gifts. I have no way of verifying that story, but it would be cool to see what he thought was important for one reading or another.

I mentioned in a recent post that I’m teaching Book of Mormon in seminary this year, and I think I’ll read the book four times this year, somewhat simultaneously. I’m reading now, preparing for the new school year (which starts in a couple of weeks). I won’t finish by the time the year starts, but I’ll continue my early morning reading pace during the school year and finish my “base” reading part-way through the year. Each Sunday I’m preparing a week’s worth of seminary lessons, and I re-read to prepare those lessons. I’m several weeks into the year and hope to keep about a month ahead of my class in those preparations. (I have no idea if I’ll succeed; one Sunday it took me far longer to prepare just one lesson, let alone four, so we’ll see…)

As I teach, I’ll need to review the chapter I’m teaching the day before I teach as I review my pre-prepared lesson plan and make adjustments.

And we’ll be starting another round of the Book of Mormon in our family scripture reading; we’ll read about a chapter a day, probably, and we probably won’t finish the Book of Mormon during the school year because we often miss family reading on weekends, and sometimes the timing requires us to read just a part of a chapter, either because we chat about what we read, or we get started too late. (This year leaving on time is more important since I’m teaching seminary and can’t be late.)

It will be a blast to do these multiple readings, to immerse myself into this great book.

I’m working from a new cheap paper-back copy of the Book of Mormon. It was unmarked when I started. I just began Jacob yesterday, and there are plenty of notes, underscores, scripture chains, cross references, questions and highlights already. There is something exciting about a new book of scripture, not yet marked at all. Of course I like my familiar markings, but this is my second time to start “fresh” in a few years (the last was when I started doing family scripture reading on my Kindle version). I like the fact that I have a clean slate, independent of old lessons and thoughts. It allows me to make new connections, particularly as I prepare to teach a group of seminary students. I am praying for help to notice things that will be important and relevant to them and to their growing testimonies.

When’s the last time you read a “fresh” copy of the Book of Mormon? Did you learn anything new? I’d be interested in your experience.


  1. I'm starting a new set of scriptures just now, so I'm right along with you! Yay for the new 2013 edition!

  2. I can't believe how much fun I'm having with this simple, single paper-back copy!