January 09, 2012

Reading in 2012: Lewis and Friends

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis
Whenever people start talking about C. S. Lewis, my heart surges with joy and affection, thinking "My dear old friend!"

But then they start talking about all these books I've never actually read. Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, The Screwtape Letters: if you can believe it, I have never read these, his major and beloved works. Mostly, I've read the obscure stuff.  Studies in Words is one of my favorites; his collected Letters to Children I re-read every year or so.  I've dived into his literary criticism, and based by literature thesis in college very heavily on his fine and overlooked essay On Stories. I've read most of his fiction, too, but there are a couple major gaps. And I know I need to re-read Till We Have Faces; I clearly didn't get it the first time, since everyone loves it, and I merely liked it.

So this year I have decided to get to know C. S. Lewis better. Those major works I haven't read, I will dive into.  I'll also revisit the works I barely remember (A Grief Observed, Surprised by Joy). I also hope to read some of the works of his friends and contemporaries. This won't be hard, since mid-century anglo-catholic authors are clearly my favorites (but, if that's so, why haven't I read any Charles Williams?). I won't exclusively read Lewis and the Inklings, but I will focus on him.

I would love to know your favorite Lewis books, and why you love them.  And what about the other Inklings?  What should I read of Lewis' friends and contemporaries?

P.S. You can track my progress by clicking the "bookshelf" button in the sidebar (though, not yet...I need to update it still!).


  1. Charles Williams is my favorite of the Inklings and my favorites of his books are his last two All Hallow's Eve (generally regarded as his best) and Descent into Hell.

    But probably his best stuff is his Dante scholarship, he greatly influenced Dorothy L Sayers in that). He also wrote an interesting church history, Descent of the Dove.

    Skip his biographies, if you can even find them, they are rather hack jobs.

    The Inkling I need to read more of is Owen Barfield so let me know if you come up with some of his stuff


  2. Ohhh! I'll read Charles Williams with you--I've always wanted to read All Hallows Eve.

  3. All Hallows Eve was fascinating. . .

  4. I will re-read Till We Have Faces with you!! I think it is my favorite of his works because it resonates the most with me. It is so tangible.. so digestible. But Perelandra (#2 in the Space Trilogy) is also quite lovely. that green lady--man! Awesome.

    And Charles Williams is a fascinating author.. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on him :)

  5. Me too! I've never read ANY Lewis, and had just decided to remedy that when I saw your post. Delightful!

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  8. I said this already on Google Plus, but I can't bear that anyone shouldn't hear how great Lewis is:

    Till We Have Faces is perhaps the most penetrating and poignant portrayal of man confronted with the divine ever penned. I've been known to say it may be one of the best books ever written.

    So if there are any discussions of that work, I'd love to take part!

  9. The Discarded Image! One of my all time favorite books. It might just change the way you understand Medieval Thought

  10. I too need to return to Lewis. I could afford to re-read The Four Loves and Surprised by Joy; I recall liking both, but remember little of them (particularly the latter).

    I think I should probably pick up The Allegory of Love and Pilgrim's Regress for the first time.

    My favorites? Probably The Great Divorce and That Hideous Strength. I've been thinking of re-reading THS just for the discussion of the two Britains, which I think a useful paradigm for understanding America or any nation.

  11. you can skip Pilgrim's Regress, but Allegory of Love is incredible.