‘Like walking into the wardrobe and entering a magical landscape, this is a book about a world that is almost lost and which urgently needs to be rediscovered. The life–changing impact of Christian literature, the extraordinary heritage of Christian hymns, the spiritual provocation of Christian biography, the unexpected relevance of church history – all of this is captured in a short and highly readable story of God’s work in one Christian family. Truly heart–warming!’ Jonathan Lamb ~ CEO and minister–at–large, Keswick Ministries
Faith Cook is among the most loved of modern British Christian authors. Her mainly biographical works have inspired and delighted thousands. But how did she become interested in her subjects and what has Faith herself read and most appreciated over the years? Here she weaves those books into a brief autobiographical account of her life after she returned to the UK from China.
I loved this book because it warmed my heart. As I walked with Faith Cook through her life thus far, meeting different saints from the past, she helped me see the unseen Kingdom more clearly, and the most precious treasure we have in Christ.
You can always learn a lot about someone by checking out their bookshelves. Usually that has to be done furtively – but Faith Cook has wonderfully shared her library with us in this little book. Through her choices of the books that have most helped and influenced her we really do learn a lot about her. She is very honest about the personal and spiritual struggles she has faced through the years and it is fascinating to see how she has been encouraged and challenged by reading Christian books, hymns and poems. She admits that some of her favourite authors are now rarely read, but as she writes of the impact the works of Rutherford, Bunyan and others on her own life I was certainly prompted to look at them myself. A great Christian book to read and a great encouragement to read more Christian books.
’Troubles will be no troubles; distresses will be no distresses, dangers will be no dangers, if you can but secure the presence of God with you’ (Thomas Brooks). In this book, Faith Cook honestly and humbly describes her own quest to secure the felt presence of God through a life which has had its own share of trouble and distress. Her personal experience of the love of Christ has been nurtured and enhanced by extensive reading, and she shares highlights from many of the books which nudged her back into a closer walk with God. Reading this made me want to read some of the great works she commends. But more than anything it reminded me that the pearl of great price – for which we should be willing to give up all else – is enjoyment of the love of our wonderful Triune God.
Faith Cook is not one to waste her reading time. Books have been a source of comfort, rebuke and delight to her since her childhood in China where reading matter was scarce and choice limited. A missionary childhood taught her to prize books highly. In her recently published book, And So I Began to Read, she shares with us some of the treasures that have most influenced her over the years and in so doing encourages the reader to reflect on his or her own reading experience and to pick up or dust off some forgotten titles. Cook describes movingly how the Lord often ministered to her 'by means of a book', especially in times of backsliding or luke warmth reminding us how tenderly 'the great Shepherd of the sheep is well able to seek out any of his flock that are wandering in a wilderness.' Jesus tells us that we reap what we sow. Faith Cook extends that principle to the world of reading inviting us to choose our next book wisely, with our gaze on eternity, aware that the time is short. She teaches us, as Bunyan taught her, to see life as 'a pilgrimage from this world of sin and suffering to the Celestial City.' I am left asking myself whether my reading choices encourage or detract from this view.
If you know Faith Cook’s writing, you won’t for one minute, think that this book is merely a recommended reading list of Christian books collected and appreciated by the author. You will know that her biographies draw you warmly and sensitively into the lives of many believers from past centuries, their personal struggles and labours for the Gospel. Faith writes in such a way that you feel at one with them and seek to emulate their trust in the living God and live wholeheartedly in His service. This book is no different; except that this time the story is Faith’s own and is intricately woven through with the books she has read that have shaped her Christian walk and hope. We are treated to a taste of a wide range of authors from Faith’s bookshelf. Across the centuries, from John Bunyan to Thomas Brooks, from Jonathan Edwards to CS Lewis, from heroes of the reformation to contemporary Christian novelists like Randy Alcorn, as well as a vast array of Christian hymn writers, Faith records how reading their lives and works has spoken into her own experience and given her a sharper focus on God’s purpose for her life and a yearning for heaven. Without sentimentality, she chronicles the legacy of separation from missionary parents in WW2 China, later the pressures of being a pastor’s wife, the often overwhelming task and challenge of mothering five children, coping with illness and the pain of relocating home and church. In God’s providence Faith Cook’s passion for reading whilst on her own “troubled journey” has turned her from reader to writer, and for our benefit. The godly honesty of this book will absorb you, and maybe like me, you will realise that through Faith’s story you are reflecting on your own. You will see that the books she has loved are bringing you to your knees.
Once in a while an author comes along whose writing is so gripping that reading just one of their books is the catapult to read everything else that he or she has written. Faith Cook is such a writer. Her definitive biographies of William Grimshaw, Lady Jane Grey, Selina Countess of Huintingdon and John Bunyan are food for the mind and the soul. Her several compilations of shorter biographies are a feast of ‘goodies’ – read the biography of Christian Watt in ‘The sound of a trumpet’ and you will be hooked. I love her autobiographical works and even her fiction. Faith Cook’s books are meticulously researched, inspirational, informative, but most importantly, always honouring to Jesus her Saviour, as well as being a blessing to the reader.
Total Price: £1.99