Latter-day Saint Life

The Gift of Story

An aquarium outside of Brandon Sanderson’s study.
Tell the Birds

Atop an aquarium crowned by mermaids is a magnificent metal book. Its golden pages have fallen open, as though the last person to read them was suddenly transported into a world of adventure, leaving the book behind.

“You want stories?” the engraved pages read. “I have stories, and I will give them to you. I will make them come alive before your eyes.”

These words, originally penned by the great fantasy novelist Robert Jordan, are now a permanent fixture near the study where Brandon Sanderson writes. But the text seems to be more than an inspirational saying—for Brandon, who completed the late Jordan’s popular The Wheel of Time series, it’s clearly a lifestyle.

Brandon spends his days—or perhaps, more accurately, nights—crafting stories that have made an epic mark on the literary world. The man is a living legend among fans for creating an entire universe where many of his books take place, with meticulous magical systems to match (“The Way of the Cosmere King”). But beyond his imagination, Brandon is admired for the depth with which he writes. His tales are a sort of refuge for readers when their own world lacks a little magic—a reminder to all of us that a well-written story can be a light in the face of darkness.

Such, though, is the nature of stories. Some, like the new children’s book More Than Just a Star, even have the potential to shape us from our earliest moments. I loved reading about the care that Sarah Jane Wright, the book’s illustrator, put into her artwork and the journey that brought her here (“Wonder in Watercolor”). I was also impressed by Elder Gerald N. Lund’s insight about a familiar New Testament parable and was reminded that stories in scripture can truly define how we live our faith (“Loving like the Good Samaritan”).

But why are we drawn to stories? In the end, I believe it’s because we are all writing one of our own. We, too, experience plot twists and unexpected hurdles like the characters in the books we read. But in hearing others’ stories, we find that we are not alone. And that is a gift—one that I think God would want us to use well in this grand adventure of life.

Happy reading,

Danielle Christensen
LDS Living Senior Editor

Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content