Title: The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Kansas City, Missouri
Author: Avi Steinberg
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Genre: Nonfiction, Travel, History
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this memoir/travelogue, Avi Steinberg goes on a journey to trace the Book of Mormon, visiting the places where events in this religious book happened, providing his own unique commentary on various aspects of the religion, and reflecting on how the book is relevant to his own life.
A hilarious, irreverent travelogue about Mormonism, Steinberg’s sense of humor is what really makes this memoir worth reading. Combined with the fascinating details he delivers about Mormonism, it’s really an unbeatable read for those interested in the religion (if you aren’t easily offended by snark).
The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Kansas City, Missouri is a unique book that isn’t for every reader; it’s a book that you’ll likely love or hate, not much in between. Why? Well, author Avi Steinberg does not hold anything sacred when it comes to this book. It’s not that he makes fun of Mormonism by itself, but that he pokes fun at all religions. He has a hilarious snarky tone, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud, if you don’t laugh easily when it comes to religion, then this is probably not the book for you.
Steinberg comes from a background of Orthodox Judaism, so while he isn’t Mormon, he understands and respects religion in general. He’s always been fascinated by Mormonism (as I have—I can’t resist the idea of a religion that was born in modern times in the United States), so feeling a little lost in his personal life, he decides to embark on a journey. And what a hilarious and wondrous journey it is.
It’s interesting to be along for the ride as Steinberg travels from Jerusalem to Central America to upstate New York, as this is as much a personal spiritual journey for him as it is a rite of curiosity. Readers can sense him becoming more and more disillusioned as the memoir progresses, even if he doesn’t state it flat out. As he’s searching for the true sites of the Book of Mormon, he seems to be losing himself in the process. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one that Steinberg writes well.
This is not really a religious book, despite how I many have described it in the preceding paragraph. The Lost Book of Mormon is certainly about a religion, but it’s not religious. As I mentioned, Steinberg pokes fun at any and every religion during his travels, and it’s absolutely hilarious to witness. I loved his snark and his sense of humor, especially as it was coupled with fascinating tidbits of information about Mormonism. I felt like I learned a lot while reading this book, while simultaneously being thoroughly and completely entertained.
If you are sensitive about religion generally, this might not be the best choice for you. However, if, like me and Avi, you’re an outsider fascinated by Mormonism (and you’re not easily offended), then absolutely pick up this book. It’s so well written and hilarious that I found myself quoting passages out loud to anyone who would listen. (I also live tweeted my reading of the first few chapters: this is how much I enjoyed this book.)