From the Library of C.S. Lewis is a reference book filled with selections from C.S. Lewis’ personal library. This book, compiled by James Stuart Bell and Anthony Dawson, is broken into eighteen sections. The primary focus of the book is to highlight works (and writers) who influenced Lewis’ spiritual journey, as Lewis is regarded as one of the finest Christian thinkers of the 20th Century. There are a few other sections that are not dedicated to religion (such as a section on fantasy & imagination), but these are definitely the minority of page takers.
I found the concept interesting and so I requested a review copy from the publisher. I like Lewis (especially Mere Christianity), but I’m not fanatic about him by no means. I’m also finding myself getting a bit more interested in biographical works as I’m getting older, and I’m a believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the types of things they read.
Unfortunately, my initial excitement quickly faded. Page after page I read through archaic texts and dated sermon notes. The material was interesting, but my daily dose of deep theology and introspective meditation could not handle deluge. As such, I took to skimming things, and that’s not what I wanted to do. So then I decided to read devotionally, just picking a page a day or something and seeing what was said. I noticed a lot of repeated writers and works, and I suppose these were more influential on Lewis than others, but that’s pure speculation on my part.
Each selection is presented with a title, its source, the text, and then a mini author biography (Twitter-esque). This format is perfect, and each selection spans at most three pages. Much of the text is heavy and deep, as I’ve said, and I recommend it in small chunks to avoid duress. This format inevitably leads to bias, as quoting out of context is wont, but I believe the intent of Bell & Dawson is to tease the Reader to dig deeper into the cited works.
From the Library of C.S. Lewis is an interesting little reference book. It is dry and sometimes complicated, but that will fluctuate based on the Reader and the day. There are many pearls of wisdom in this book, and it was a pleasure to think about how they affected Lewis’ works (and life). I would have liked more descriptive correlations between works and Lewis’ life, but that was outside the scope of the book. To a casual Lewis fan this may not be the book for you, but if you would like to find out what kind of things C.S. Lewis liked to read, then by all means check out From the Library of C.S. Lewis.
FTC Thingy: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Nothing more was required. I was not coerced or bribed to review positively or negatively, nor was I offered any extra incentives for a positive review (i.e., baked goods, especially cookies). As such, this review is reflective of my inner self's inner self.