An Open Book

I am lucky to know Joanna Brooks.

Joanna chairs SDSU’s Department of English and Comparative Literature.  She is friendly, charming and disarmingly insightful.  She tells a story with panache.  And she makes the best chocolate chip cookies since Florence Rachman.

In her company, people often feel compelled to share parts of themselves they usually keep guarded.

Joanna Brooks enjoys writing, baking and hot-sweaty yoga.

Joanna Brooks, chair of SDSU's Department of English and Comparative Literature, is a national voice on Mormon life and politics and an award-winning scholar of religion and American culture.

And, yet, she doesn’t reveal her own secrets nearly as easily.  Until now.

In January, Joanna self-published a memoir, “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith.”

I don’t yet enjoy reading books on my cell phone or tablet, so I waited until it became available last week for print-on-demand from Amazon.

In it, she describes her childhood in a conservative Mormon household and her evolving relationship with her religion through tumultuous years at Brigham Young University, a marriage to a nice Jewish boy and their journey raising two beautiful daughters.

In many ways, her relationship with Mormonism is a story of unrequited love.  It makes for a book that’s laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes heartbreaking and impossible to put down.

Showing the Love and The Washington Post recently featured Joanna, and named her one of “50 Politicos to Watch.”

Look for an upcoming feature about Joanna in SDSU NewsCenter, which will be published the week of Feb. 13.

Find out more about Joanna at

The Nice Jewish Boy

Joanna is married to David Kamper, chair of the Department of American Indian Studies, which recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of its founding at San Diego State.

David and his eldest daughter, Ella, were featured last year in a video about fatherhood.

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