On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked Sam Storms—lead pastor at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and TGC Council member—about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, biographies he has enjoyed, and more.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
The stack on my nightstand grows by the day. Currently it consists of the following:
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally by John Piper [read TGC’s review]
- The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher [read TGC’s review]
- Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper
- J. C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone by Iain H. Murray [read TGC’s review]
- Stalin’s Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring by Andrew Lownie
- The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald [read TGC’s review]
- Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World by Alec Ryrie
And because of my love for baseball, I’m reading Keith Law’s new book, Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball.
What are your favorite fiction books?
I’ve never been a huge fan of fiction, but when I get around to it I love all the novels of John Le Carre (such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Smiley’s People; The Russia House). I’m also a huge fan of the work of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (which might be classified as historical fiction), especially One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
What books, other than the Bible, make you most happy in Jesus?
Anything by or about Jonathan Edwards (particularly Religious Affections and his “Personal Narrative”), anything by or about J. I. Packer (such as Rediscovering Holiness). The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper is also high on my list.
What books have most profoundly shaped how you view gospel ministry?
Several books by Piper: Desiring God, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, and God Is the Gospel. I’d also include Gerald Hawthorne’s The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
At least once a year I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I also listen to it on audiobook at least once or twice a year. I’ve been most affected by the lead character, Atticus Finch. When people ask me, “What is integrity? What does it mean to be a man of honor? How should I raise and educate my children? What is humility?” I simply point them to Atticus Finch.
I read Edwards’s Religious Affections at least annually. And when I can, I go back frequently to his Dissertation Concerning the End for which God Created the World.
What biographies have you most enjoyed?
Two biographies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn have had a huge effect on my life. The first one I read was D. M. Thomas’s Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life. I also greatly enjoyed Michael Scammell’s Solzhenitsyn: A Biography.
George Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life will always be near the top of my list.
One biography that is somewhat sad to read (but highly instructive) is John A. D’Ella’s A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America [read Themelios’s review].
There’s Leland Ryken’s recent biography J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life.
Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer by Scott Hendrix is superb.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
As a pastor I’m increasingly persuaded that the one thing that will motivate and energize people to forsake sin and idolatry is having their hearts captivated by the beauty and majesty of Jesus. Angry warnings, more rules, and threats of divine judgment do little to stir our hearts to walk in conformity with the Word of God. To use the words of John Piper, “seeing and savoring Jesus Christ” in all his splendor and power and glory and honor is the only lasting and ultimately successful way to wage war against the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
Psalm 16:11 has long been my life’s verse: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” I’m increasingly convinced that it holds the key to walking faithfully with Jesus. If I can consistently communicate that to myself and to the people in my church, I think I’ll have succeeded in the calling God placed on my life.
Also in the On My Shelf series: Jen Pollock Michel • 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