Terryl and Fiona Givens are the co-authors of "The God Who Weeps," a book published by Ensign Peak and released in October. The married couple's book outlines five core principles that define how Mormons see God, themselves and the universe as a whole.
Terryl Givens has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. He holds the James A. Bostwick chair of English and is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, Va., and has authored and co-authored several books. Fiona Givens holds a master's of European history and has experience in communications and translation services. She is a longtime collaborator with her husband's books and this is her first co-authorship.
In connection with a feature story about the Givens and their new book, we asked the Givens to share five must-read books from each of their personal bookshelves. These are their recommendations.
Related: Scholars Terryl and Fiona Givens discuss life, love and their new book, 'The God Who Weeps'
(Photo of E.M. Forster in 1960)
Forster (1879–1970) was an English novelist, short story writer and essayist. "Passage to India" (1924) was one novel that brought him great success. Time magazine included the novel in its "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005." The novel is based on Forster's experiences in India.
Fiona Givens: "Forster’s powerful and sensitive book taught me of the vibrant beauty each culture carries within it and of the opportunities I have been given to build bridges into as many cultures, religious or otherwise, that my brief sojourn here on earth might be filled with greater virtue and value."
Mary Anne Evans (1819–1880), better known by her pen name, George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator. She was considered one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.
"Silas Marner," her third novel, was first published in 1861.
Fiona Givens: "This book reiterates for me the redemptive power that is love."
Dostoyevsky (1821–1881) was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. His literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russia.
"The Idiot" is considered one of the most brilliant literary achievements of the "Golden Age" of Russian literature.
Fiona Givens: "Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that God wins power and space in this world by his weakness. This novel emphasizes for me the power to be found in meekness, kindness and sacrifice."
Barker, a Methodist preacher, studied theology at the University of Cambridge, after which she has devoted her life to research in ancient Christianity.
Fiona Givens: "This book corroborated for me the vital importance of Enoch lost to the cannon and restored by the Prophet Joseph (Smith) in 1830."
(Photo of Oscar Wilde in 1882)
Wilde (1854–1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.
Fiona Givens: "The plays of Oscar Wilde remind me repeatedly that laughter is the best of medicines."
Law (1686–1761) was an English cleric, divine and theological writer. Law taught at Cambridge in the early 1700s but was banned from teaching and preaching because he refused to take a loyalty oath to the government during a time of great political and religious turmoil in Great Britain. Law's writings influenced many prominent religious figures of the day, including John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, and George Whitefield, a renowned preacher and evangelist in the early Methodist movement.
Terryl Givens: "No work has given better practical advice for the pursuit of a profound discipleship."
Traherne (1636-1674) received a master's degree in arts and divinity from Brasenose College, Oxford. He worked as a parish priest and wrote a handful of books.
For more than 200 years, Traherne's "Centuries of Meditations" was undiscovered and unpublished. The manuscript passed through many hands before finally being compiled into a book by bookseller and scholar Bertram Dobell (1842-1914) in 1908. "Centuries" is a collection of poems written to express the rapture of life lived in accordance with God.
Terryl Givens: "Some works reveal more about the Christly qualities of their authors than information about his subject. Traherne is the author with whom I would most like to break bread."
"Brothers Karamozov" was the final novel by Dostoyevsky. He spent nearly two years writing the book before it was completed in November 1880. Dostoyevsky intended it to be the first part in an epic story titled, "The Life of a Great Sinner," but he died less than four months after its publication.
Terryl Givens: "This work is unparalleled in the courage with which it asks the hardest questions a believer can pose to his own faith in God; and it finds the will to affirm ultimate goodness and value in the midst of an almost overwhelming conception of human evil and suffering."
Hopkins (1844–1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert and Jesuit priest whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets.
Terryl Givens: "By wrenching language in unexpected ways, Hopkins makes his verse convey both the desolation and the grandeur of the human condition. If normal communicative language aspires to be clear as glass, Hopkins’ poetry is like a stained glass window, utterly haunting and heaven-touched."
Hugo (1802–1885) was a French poet, novelist and dramatist. He is considered the most well-known French Romantic writer.
Hugo's "Les Miserables" (1862) is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion of Paris, the novel follows the lives of several characters but centers on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption.
Terryl Givens: "Long before Broadway turned this work into a musical, the novel opened my eyes to the human potential for divine goodness, and the miracle of redemption. This was my baptism into the transformative power of great literature."