There have been very few times in my life where something has tasted as delicious as it did to Parley P. Pratt when he said of reading the Book of Mormon: "I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep."
This experience was one of those times for me.
Here's the story of how I read the Book of Mormon in under 9 hours:
🕰 How I Finished in 9 Hours
The Book of Mormon is 531 pages, and about 27 hours of audio at 1x speed. I knew if I wanted to get through it in a day I would need to keep a good, steady pace.
I started reading at 7:05am on a Sunday morning in early September, 2020. There was no church happening where I was staying in Edinburgh, and I was in the middle of my first think week, which meant I didn't have any distractions and everyone I cared about knew I would be unavailable.
I tend to read extremely slow (especially the scriptures), so to help myself keep pace, I went to YouTube and found an audiobook of the Book of Mormon. Using the Chrome extension "Video Speed Controller", I turned the video to 3x speed.
I discovered a few years ago that 3x speed is perfect if you can devote all your attention to following along - it keeps you moving quickly, but not so fast you can't focus. (Shoutout to my 17 year old self for procrastinating my summer reading assignment and making this discovery possible)
I was also fasting, which made focusing easier and made it so I didn't need to worry about food.
Yes, there were moments where my mind would wander. When it did, I would gently bring it back to the present and keep reading.
Here's the complete play-by-play:
- 7:05am Begin Reading
- 7:52am Finish First Nephi
- 8:53am Finish Second Nephi - Mind started wandering toward the end of this
- 9:11am Finish Jacob
- 9:19am Finish Enos - Words of Mormon
- 10:18am Finish Mosiah
- 10:50am Five minute break for a shower
- 1:01pm Finish Alma
- 1:40pm Finish Helaman - This is where it really started to become delicious to me.
- 2:40pm Finish 3 Nephi
- 2:43pm Finish 4 Nephi
- 3:09pm Finish Mormon
- 3:38pm Finish Ether
- 3:51pm Finish Moroni
It was that easy! As I read, I paced back and forth, stretched, and changed reading locations (Bed, Desk, Chair).
🤓 What I Would Do Differently
I Would Get a Physical Book
This was a simple matter of planning. It would have been nice to feel the pages and see myself progressing more tangibly. Also, if I had used a dedicated copy just for this reading, I could have highlighted specific stand out parts specific to my day long read.
I Would Go a Bit Slower
The combination of YouTube videos I watched was around 27 hours at 1x speed. I feel like I could have captured more if I went at about 2-2.5x speed (which, if I've done my math correctly, would have me finishing in about 13-11 hours instead of 9). I had plenty of the day left and could have gone slower, or taken more time to write down what I captured from each book (see notes on this below). I'll do this next time.
🏫 What I Learned from The Experience
Motivation is a Myth
In Jeff Haden's book "The Motivation Myth" he teaches that motivation is not the spark that keeps you eager to do hard work. It is the result. Real motivation comes after you start.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that Parley P. Pratt's insatiable urge to read all the way through the night didn't start until after he started reading. Likewise, I didn't feel any crazy spiritual calling or desire to read the whole Book of Mormon in a day. Once I began, however, I didn't take any of the breaks I was planning on before I started.
This logic can bless every part of our lives! Don't feel like doing that work project? Just do 5 minutes, and then you'll probably end up doing a whole hour. Is your room a mess? Just pick up one or two things to start out.
"Handle Me and See"
In Luke 24, the Savior appears to his disciples after his resurrection and says in verse 39, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see..."
I felt like the Book of Mormon was giving me a similar invitation as I read. "Handle me, and see. See if i'm everything the prophets say I am. See if what's on these pages can help you." This is the invitation the Savior gives to "all men, everywhere" (Introduction to the Book of Mormon), both about Him, and about the Book of Mormon.
The Words in the Scriptures are finite
It's easy to see the scriptures as immense: a mountain so big that we could never possibly discover all its secrets or even really scratch the surface of what's inside.
This experience was like taking a quick walk up the mountain and down the other side. While it will take years to explore every bend or cavern, it only takes a day to get a lay of the land.
Reading Alma, for example, seemed like a huge task before this read. Now I know that if I really want to, I could read the entire thing in 2 hours.
While the insights I'll gain from the book will never stop, the words themselves are finite. They didn't feel this way before.
It's easier than we think
As humans, we tend to invent reasons why something won't work.
This was much easier than I thought, if you're on the fence, just do it!
📖 What I Learned From the Book
Here are some impressions I wrote down from some of the books as soon as I finished them:
2 Nephi: The point of this book is to teach the doctrine and destiny of the House of Israel
Mosiah: This is a very story heavy book compared with everything before it.
Alma: A lot of missionary work, and then the missionary work sparks a war
Helaman: The story in this book is very compelling. It's mostly about Nephi son of Helaman and the Gadianton robbers, finishes off with Samuel the Lamanite.
3 Nephi: God wants us to know that just as all prophecies here have been fulfilled, they will be fulfilled in the future.
4 Nephi: Shows how powerful what Christ teaches is. He is the source of truth.
Mormon: Mormon thinks he is ending this book. He writes a little bit about his life and then spends the last few chapters exhorting everyone.
Ether: This is a mini Book of Mormon. People come to the promised land, they divided and there are many wars and then eventually the civilization is destroyed.
Moroni: Moroni was pretty timid. He didn't know what was going to happen with what he was writing. He mostly just quotes other people and puts in letters from his dad and then says a few things. I picture God patiently guiding Moroni through putting the finishing touches on the book.
These are notes I wrote down right after about the Book as a whole
- You can distinctly tell the difference between Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. These three witnesses of Christ really do have their own personalities, writing styles, and ways of understanding the world.
- Deny yourselves of all ungodliness - This is the message of the Book of Mormon. Get rid of anything that isn't Godly. It shows us the consequences when we don't do this, and the blessings that happen when we do.
- The responsibility of having the gospel is a major theme in the first half of the book. God expects/requires more of those who have it. Innocent Lamanites are not punished as harshly as the Nephites are when they go astray. (Helaman 15:12-14; Jacob 3:7)
- Riches tend to make people forget God.
- The word "Curse" seems to have a different meaning in the Book of Mormon. It refers to the state of the world or the state of a people. Kind of like a primitive understanding of things, Mormon says "There was a curse on the Lamanites" when in reality this just means they didn't have the gospel and couldn't progress spiritually without it.
- "Drunk and not with wine" - This phrase kept sticking out to me. There was a verse in Ether as well that says the people were "drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine". This is so relevant for our time. We are drunk with distraction.
- The Book of Mormon is a perfect example of the quote "Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it." The Lord put everything we needed to understand about what NOT to do into this book, over and over and over again.
- There are language patterns I have read into very deeply before in the book that now just seem like quirks of the way the language was written or the translation happened. We shouldn't read too far into literally every line of scripture.
- Reading Christ's words in 3 Nephi was the most spiritual part. There is so much in the sermon on the mount. So much wisdom that everyone ignores today or mingles with their own ideas. Christ is the source of truth, why is it so easy to forget this and try to Google everything or search outside his words?
🤔 Should You Try This?
Right after finishing my 8 hour 41 minute read, I wrote, "I am completely filled with the spirit right now." This was an extremely sacred experience for me, and worth every second.
Reading the Book of Mormon in one day is an experience I think every Latter-Day Saint (and everyone else!) should have at some point.
If it feels like too much to do the whole thing, just try doing it with one book at double or triple speed. You'll get a taste of what reading the whole book would be like, and you'll gain an interesting new perspective on scripture.
I'm going to do this with the Doctrine and Covenants next, then the New and Old Testaments!