On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.

I asked Carl Ellis—author, theological anthropologist, and visiting lecturer in practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—about what’s on his nightstand, books that have shaped his understanding of gospel ministry and racial justice, and more.


What's on your nightstand right now?

The Universe Next Door by James Sire

Dawa: The Islamic Strategy for Reshaping the Modern World by Patrick Sookhdeo

Coming Apart: The State of White America by Charles Murray

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Naming the Elephant by James Sire

A Transforming Vision: The Lord’s Prayer as a Lens for Life by William Edger

The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek 

What books have most profoundly shaped how you view gospel ministry?

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Your God Is Too Small by J. B. Phillips

The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer

Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King Jr.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley

What books have most shaped your understanding of racial justice?

The Bible by far, especially Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos

Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton

The Presence of the Kingdom by Jacques Ellul

Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell

What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?

The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley. I learned things about the grace of God that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

That he is faithful.

That I don’t have to understand everything in order to trust him.

That his goodness toward me has nothing to do with what I can do for him, but purely based on his grace.

How not to judge issues of concern by appearance, but by the underlying presuppositions and motivations.


Also in the On My Shelf series: Owen Strachan • Jemar Tisby • Thomas Kidd • David Murray • Jarvis Williams • Gracy Olmstead • Matthew Hall • Drew Dyck • Louis Markos • Ray Ortlund • Brett McCracken • Mez McConnell • Erik Raymond • Sandra McCracken • Tim Challies • Sammy Rhodes • Karen Ellis • Alastair Roberts • Scott Sauls • Karen Swallow Prior • Jackie Hill Perry • Bruce Ashford • Jonathan Leeman • Megan Hill • Marvin Olasky • David Wells • John Frame • Rod Dreher • James K. A. Smith • Randy Alcorn • Tom Schreiner • Trillia Newbell • Jen Wilkin • Joe Carter • Timothy George • Tim Keller • Bryan Chapell • Lauren Chandler • Mike Cosper • Russell Moore • Jared Wilson • Kathy Keller • J. D. Greear • Kevin DeYoung • Kathleen Nielson • Thabiti Anyabwile • Elyse Fitzpatrick • Collin Hansen • Fred Sanders • Rosaria Butterfield • Nancy Guthrie • Matt Chandler

Browse dozens of book recommendations from The Gospel Coalition’s leaders and sign up your church at Hubworthy.