On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked Jason Cook—an editor for The Gospel Coalition and associate pastor of preaching at Fellowship Memphis—about what’s on his nightstand, his favorite biographies, the book he wishes every evangelical would read, and more.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
- Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis by Preston Lauterbach
- Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys by Richard Twiss
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
What are some books you re-read and why?
Each year I re-read The Mortification of Sin by John Owen because of the vivid pictures he paints of the heinousness of sin and its widespread effects on our lives.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I fell in love with Austen in college and continue to enjoy her prose.
I return to Richard Wright’s seminal classic, Native Son, because of the poignant truths that still ring true today. Wright’s protagonist resembles many young black men in the communities I minister to.
What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings allowed me to experience the movement from suffering to hope that Angelou herself experiences. Her classic poem, “And Still I Rise,” is exemplary of her life and of redemptive hope in suffering.
Lyle Dorsett’s biography on the life and ministry of D. L. Moody, A Passion For Souls, is significant for me because of Moody’s evangelistic zeal and ministry legacy that still stands today.
Finally, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a heartbreaking tale of sorrow and injustice. Rebecca Skloot encourages all of us to empathize with those who have been historically exploited for profit.
What book do you wish every evangelical Christian would read and why?
I would encourage every evangelical Christian to read Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. Historical ignorance concerning the “purity” of our worship services has long been a reason many churches remain monolithic. Emerson uncovers the historical reasons why our churches remain inhospitable to those who don’t belong to the congregation’s ethnic majority.
Also in the On My Shelf series: Mack Stiles • Michael Kruger • Robert Smith • Tony Merida • Andy Crouch • Walter Strickland • Hannah Anderson • S. D. Smith • Curtis Woods • Mindy Belz • Steve Timmis • David Mathis • Michael Lindsay • Nathan Finn • Jennifer Marshall • Todd Billings • Greg Thornbury • Greg Forster • Jen Pollock Michel • Sam Storms • Barton Swaim • John Stonestreet • George Marsden • Andrew Wilson • Sally Lloyd-Jones • Darryl Williamson • D. A. Horton • Carl Ellis • Owen Strachan • 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