If you’re looking for quality literature to share with your kids or to read for yourself, check out these amazing Latter-day Saint authors who have made The New York Times Best Seller list. From Brandon Mull to Richard Paul Evans and Stephenie Meyers, Latter-day Saints have definitely made their mark in the literary world over the years for anything from children's books to self-help volumes. Check them all out here and let us know if we missed any!
1. Brandon Mull
In 2006, Brandon Mull made a splash in the fantasy genre with the release of his first novel, Fablehaven. Enchanting readers with his world of magical creatures, the five-book series became a New York Times best seller, debuting at #6 on the “Children’s Series” list in 2012.
Mull collaborated on—which rose to #2 on the “Children’s Middle Grade” list in September 2014. To date, Mull’s stories have been translated into more than 30 languages.
While some may wonder if Mull found success as a writer in spite of his LDS faith, he says his success, in large part, is because of it. “So far, being a Mormon has only seemed to benefit my career,” he says.“I write family-friendly fantasy in the tradition of Harry Potter, so my publishers encourage me to keep the content clean. And my membership in the LDS Church has given me personal insights into principles that I can incorporate in my stories.”
In fact, Mormon readers will recognize many spiritual themes in Mull’s novels. “As conscientious characters face difficult choices, themes will naturally arise,” he says. “In Fablehaven, an obvious theme is choice and consequence. In the new sequel series, Dragonwatch, I explore how people can endure hardships by rising to the occasion in challenging circumstances. I love to investigate heroism [and] explore issues surrounding trustworthiness. In book four of my Five Kingdoms series, some of the characters visit a fantasy version of the afterlife, which is different than anything I have attempted and certainly had spiritual overtones.”
With his worldwide popularity and fan base, Mull is happy to share his beliefs when asked. “I have felt the Savior’s help in my life and in my career in real ways and am not shy about sharing that I believe He really can help and save us.”
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2. Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy became a New York Times best seller almost from the moment it debuted in 2005. The second book in the series, Palace of Stone, debuted at #8 on the “Children’s Chapter Books” list in 2012, and the third book, The Forgotten Sisters, was released in 2015.
A mother of four, Hale has authored or co-authored more than 20 books. “There are books I’ve written because I couldn’t find the right book for my child to read, so I thought I’d better write it,” she says. “Having kids while writing for kids is a constant and valuable reminder of what really matters—spoiler: it’s not me.”
Whether writing for children or adults, Hale’s LDS faith is often reflected in her stories. “Everything I am, everything I think about and believe, naturally infuses itself into my writing,” she says. “There is a scene in The Goose Girl that was directly inspired by the story of Ammon.”
Hale’s novel Austenland was made into a movie in 2013 starring Keri Russell and Jane Seymour. While filming the movie, Hale, LDS author and producer Stephenie Meyer, and LDS director and screenwriter Jerusha Hess all attended church together. Hale also had a cameo as an extra in the movie.
But Hale says her success has not come without some criticism. “I have been verbally attacked on occasion—not for what I’ve said or done but based on my membership in this church,” she says. Hale has also received emails from upset Church members who felt something she wrote was inappropriate. “Being LDS does shine a bit of a spotlight, and people both in and out of the Church might judge me a little more closely for it,” she explains. “One thing I’ve learned is that there is no ‘typical’ or ‘ideal’ Mormon. Judgment comes when we make that faulty assumption.”
3. Jeff Benedict
Jeff Benedict is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including New York Times best seller The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football (which is also being developed into a television drama by Starz), The Mormon Way of Doing Business, My Name Used to be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian, and Make a Choice: When You Are at the Intersection Between Happiness and Despair.
Benedict was studying to become a lawyer in the mid 1990s when his thesis on athletes and violence against women gained national attention. “The New York Times covered my thesis. Before long, I was being interviewed by CBS Evening News, 48 Hours, and a slew of other national media outlets,” he recalls. “Writing had given me a platform to talk to millions of Americans. That’s when I decided to change my plans from being a lawyer to being a writer.”
Benedict has written several articles for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times and has made several appearances on various television shows. He has done stories on several famous Mormons, including Mitt Romney and NBA star Jabari Parker.
“There was a period for a few years where almost everything I was doing had some relationship to my own religion,” he recalls. “I liked the fact I was writing about [the LDS faith] for a commercial audience. I took that responsibility very seriously—to carry a message that was accurate but also compelling.” He adds, “For someone who didn’t set out to be a writer, I feel really fortunate to be doing what I’m doing.”
His most recent book, QB: My Life Behind the Spiral, was written with Mormon NFL legend Steve Young. It became a New York Times best seller by the end of 2016, reaching the #13 spot. Benedict is currently the director of the Institute for Writing and Mass Media at Southern Virginia University.
4. Richard Paul Evans
While working as an advertising executive, Richard Paul Evans wrote his first novel, The Christmas Box. Unable to find a publisher, he self-published the story in 1993. The book became a local best-seller, and after Evans released the book nationally, it rocketed to #2 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Since then, it has been made into a TV movie starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara and inspired The Christmas Box International, a charity that provides shelter and care for abused and neglected children.
His novels Timepiece, The Locket, and A Perfect Day have also been made into TV movies starring major actors, including James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave, Rob Lowe, and Christopher Lloyd.
Author of more than 30 best sellers, Evans hit the #1 spot on the New York Times “Children’s Chapter Books” list in 2011 with the first novel in his Michael Vey series. He has received numerous awards, including the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award. Evans lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Keri, and their five children.
5. Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change hit #1 on the “Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous” list immediately after it was published in 1989. In 2002, Forbes called the book one of the top 10 most influential management books of all time, and today more than 25 million copies have been sold. U.S. President Bill Clinton even invited Covey to teach him how to incorporate the seven habits into his presidency.
Covey entered the University of Utah at age 16 and earned a degree in business administration. He served a mission in the British Isles and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard. In 1962, when he was just 29 years old, he was called to be the first mission president in Ireland. Afterward, he earned his doctorate from BYU in religious education and also taught as a professor of business management there. In 1983, Covey founded the Covey Leadership Center, which later merged with Franklin Quest to become FranklinCovey. He is also the author of several other books, including The Eighth Habit, Principle-Centered Leadership, and First Things First. He passed away in 2012 due to complications from a bicycle accident.
6. Mitt and Ann Romney
Both Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, have had books on the New York Times Best Seller list. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list when it was released in 2010. Founder of Bain Capital and former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney also led the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics to success. He and his wife have 5 sons and 23 (and counting!) grandchildren.
Ann Romney’s book The Romney Family Table spent three weeks on the New York Times "Advice, How-to & Miscellaneous” list in 2013, following its release in October of that year. In the book, she shares family recipes and family traditions and reflects on her many years as a mom, describing some of her favorite—and not-so-favorite—moments as a mother.
She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and has gone on to spearhead efforts to combat MS. She is also the author of Whatever You Choose to Be and In This Together, her inspiring and heartfelt memoir.
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