Being a young, single member of the Church is both exciting and terrifying. On one hand, I have more freedom than I will have at any other time of my life. It's a time that I am completely focused on me—what I want to do. What I want to learn. Where I want to go. How I want to spend my money. But on the other hand, the limitless possibilities of the future is incredibly daunting.
Now that I'm done with school and I'm not assigned to read books, I've gained a new ferocity for reading. At any given time, I'm reading approximately 17 books simultaneously. I've gathered some of my favorites (some I've finished and others I'm still working my way through) that I think are incredibly valuable reads for all YSA members.
Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam S. Miller
This book is written as a collection of letters, written to young Mormons familiar with the gospel, but deepening his or her own testimony. The author, Adam Miller, is a very poetic writer and helps readers see aspects of Mormonism—like the temple, sin, and the Sabbath—in completely new ways. Adam talks about the real beauty and real costs of trying to live a Mormon life. The writing is very personal and overall the book is a quick read, taking maybe two hours to finish all the letters.
Moroni's Guide to Surviving Turbulent Times by John Bytheway
John Bytheway's writing makes it very easy for young single adult members to relate to Moroni. Moroni spent at least the last 20 years of his life alone, waiting to be captured and killed. John teaches how Moroni's last words are both intensely personal and universally applicable. He uses Moroni's formula to teach how we can survive the turbulent times we face. Whatever trials we're battling, we can successfully navigate them by likening the words of Moroni.
Even This by Emily Belle Freeman
This book is an intensely personal account from Emily Belle Freeman about her own experiences of feeling forgotten by God. After months of unanswered prayers, Emily found herself asking a question she had feared: "Where is God in this?" Reading Emily's story will be helpful for any YSA member trying to get to a place where they can trust God with anything.
Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt by Patrick Q. Mason
In recent years, many faithful Church members have encountered challenging aspects of Church history, belief, or practice. Feeling isolated or misled, some struggle to stay active in the Church. This book offers hope to those struggling with sticky topics by providing a reliable and faithful place for them to work through their questions. Planted offers those who struggle—and those who love them—practical ways to stay planted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We're With You by The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve
This book is so cool because it's the first time that the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have ever been featured in a book together. It's set up by topics which makes it easy to flip to the parts that relate most to you. Reading this book reaffirmed to me that the Brethren are very much in touch with our lives and aware of the specific problems and questions we face.
Be Happy by Hank Smith
I'm fully aware that most of Hank Smith's talks are directed at teenagers, but I can't get enough. I really enjoyed reading this full-length book and consumed it all in one sitting. Hank gives real, practical advice for lasting happiness, that doesn't depend on what's happening around you.
The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox
This book is an extended version of the talk that changed my life. I know I'll never fully be able to understand the Atonement in this lifetime, but this book completely changed the way I think about my relationship with Christ. Brad Wilcox uses several stories and examples that will stick with you and help you gain invaluable insights.
Whatever You Choose to Be by Ann Romney
This book is actually a commencement speech directed at college graduates, but Ann Romney shares eight pieces of advice that are applicable for every YSA member. It is a very quick read in which she shares wisdom based on her own life experiences.
A Twenty-Something's Guide to Spirituality by David Read and Jacob Werrett
David and Jacob were two college students who realized that there were plenty of students just like them with unanswered questions. They took these weighty, difficult questions to some of the most esteemed LDS scholars, who addressed the topics head-on. The book contains nine questions and lengthy answers you won't find anywhere else.
This wouldn't be a reading list for YSA members if there wasn't at least one book on dating, right? But this one is totally non-cringeworthy, even if some of Zack Oates's dating stories are. He went on over 1,000 dates (1,000! I'm still trying to figure out how that's possible) before getting married, so he has plenty of totally relatable stories that will make you feel better about your own dating life.
Where Do I Go from Here? by Irene Ericksen and Jan Pinborough
I've never seen another book quite like this. The authors recognize how hard it is for young adult women to figure out what their path is supposed to look like. This encouraging book is all about them feel confident about their ability to make righteous choices suited to their individual circumstances and discover their personal mission.
Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew
I think this book is an important read for everyone, but especially for YSA members. Our young adult years are a time when we will be faced with doubts and questions about the Church. Sheri Dew is very candid in sharing doubts she has had herself and how she learned to ask questions that yielded answers. She teaches how to live by faith while seeking greater light and knowledge.
More than the Tattooed Mormon by Al Carraway
This is a quick read that shows the trials and struggles another YSA member faced. Al is very open about the trials that came as she investigated the Church and was baptized. Her passion and excitement for the gospel is contagious and her example teaches that living the gospel isn't always easy, but it is worth it.