I read several books on the history, the controversies, the persecution, and today's Mormon church. It did prepare me for living in Utah, but being there rounded out my experience.
One of the best books I read was No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, which was written by Fawn Brodie. She was excommunicated after it was published.
I read it in preparation for moving to Utah, then I reread it because it's well-written. I learned a lot about not just Mormonism but the time frame in which Joseph Smith lived, The Great Revival, American banking, and a lot more of interest.
While I lived in Utah: in a small, all Mormon town, and then in Salt Lake City, I became well-acquainted with rank-n-file, former, and high-end Mormons, including a stake president's immediate family.
Thinking that Jesus visited America and his Second Coming will take place here is not as hard to swallow as their assertion that The Latter Day Saints (the preferred name for the group) will have their own heaven with Spiritual Babies and multiple wives... as well as many other far out fantasies, or what are to them: Expectations for the righteous.
Still, I will say that of all the groups--religious or otherwise, that I have ever met and been involved with, no group is more organized when it comes to getting things done.
My husband and I moved residences and a stake president organized the move. It was incredible: Snowing hard... and the group came in cars and trucks hauling a 14-foot trail with all our belongings in it, and had us moved in within two hours or so. It would have been finished much quicker without the slippery snow.
I supplied incentive with food, praise and gratitude.
Also, they are by and large wealthy, and are called to give to charity via Deseret Industries. I found the best quality, fairly priced clothing there, because so many Mormon women are large-boned and tall as am I.
I could never do or believe the most basic tenets as they do.
And as far as The Book of Mormons goes, according to Mark Twain, it was "Chloroform in print."
I tried to read it, and it was, to my mind, worse than chloroform.
When two Mormon males came to my door a few weeks ago, they were stunned when to their question, "Have you ever read the Book of Mormons?" I answered, "Yes."
"What did you think?" one of the young men asked. I hesitated, chose my words carefully, replied, "I wanted to edit it, but bear in mind I was red penciling classic literature when I was 12." That made them relax, and one even laughed.
I wouldn't call most Mormons evil. They are, over all, no more or less deluded than most people when it comes to "Knowing all about how we came to be, exactly how we should live, and where we'll end up when we die."
Read Fawn Brodie's book, No Man Knows My History.
Make up your own mind regarding its founder, and therefore non only its roots and where they've led their flock, but where those early and enduring beliefs still lead so many members today.