On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked Kristen Wetherell—author of Fight Your Fears and Hope When It Hurts, and co-editor for 12 Faithful Women: Portraits of Steadfast Endurance—about what’s on her nightstand (or coffee table!), favorite fiction books, biographies, books she regularly re-reads, and more.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
There are currently zero books on my nightstand since I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow these days. But on my coffee table: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Expository Exultation by John Piper, and John Calvin’s Institutes.
What are your favorite fiction books?
Marilynne Robinson is a favorite modern fiction writer; all of her novels are beautiful—Gilead, Home, Lila, and Housekeeping. I’ve enjoyed reading stories based in the World War II era: All the Light We Cannot See, Sarah’s Key, The Book Thief, and The Ragged Edge of Night are three different takes, and all wonderful. Some favorite classics include Emma by Jane Austen and Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.
While he isn’t a fiction writer, Erik Larson writes narrative history like it’s a story; his writing is that compelling. I love all of his books and often recommend them to people.
What biographies or autobiographies have most influenced you and why?
Last summer, I read Ray Rhodes Jr.’s biography of Susannah Spurgeon, titled Susie, and was moved by her endurance as a chronic sufferer and pastor’s wife. Years ago, I read A Passion for the Impossible about missionary Lilias Trotter, who was a gifted artist and called to ministry in Algeria; I couldn’t put that book down and connected with her desire to use her artistic gifts while serving the Lord.
I recently read the new TGC book I edited and contributed to, 12 Faithful Women: Portraits of Steadfast Endurance in the Christian Life—and I must say, the book is remarkable! This is a shameless plug and also a glowing recommendation for this biographical beauty. The women profiled are fascinating, diverse, and inspirational.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
In this season of life, with a 2-year-old in our house, the only books I’m regularly re-reading feature characters like Clifford and Curious George and have titles like Daniel Tiger Goes to the Potty. Perhaps someday . . .
What books have most profoundly shaped how you serve and lead others for the sake of the gospel?
John Piper’s books A Peculiar Glory, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, and Expository Exultation have stirred my heart to worship and deepened my conviction that God’s Word does his redemptive work. Christine Hoover’s From Good to Grace profoundly aided my grasp of the gospel when I read it about seven years ago, helping me enjoy freedom in Christ. It has shaped how I think about the gospel, and how I impart it to others.
What’s one book you wish every woman read?
The Cross of Christ. John Stott writes pastorally, accessibly, and passionately about the atonement. This book monumentally shaped my grasp of why the cross was necessary, what happened there, and how Christ’s saving work affects individual believers and the corporate body. I keep telling everyone to read it—especially women who might feel intimidated by “theological books”—and it’s one I’d like to return to every few years.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
Right now, as a pregnant mother also caring for a toddler, I’m tired a lot and have been freshly aware that the whole of my Christian life is sustained by God’s grace. I’m in a season of struggling with reading my Bible and wondering, What’s wrong with me? But I’m comforted to remember that I’ve been here before, and that God has carried me, sustained my faith, and renewed my hunger for him.
Following Jesus is indeed a fight, a race, a process—and this is every believer’s experience. But we’re not alone: his grace not only begins a good work within us, but brings that good work to completion (Phil. 1:6). So, I’m learning about relying on God’s grace to me in Christ.