CS Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath (Review) And Top Ten Lewis Books

I’ve read a lot of CS Lewis books in my life, perhaps more than any other author.  But I had never read a biography, so all I knew of his life was the bits and pieces I picked up elsewhere.  I decided to remedy this recently by reading the new biography on Lewis by British scholar Alister McGrath.  Through reading it, I learned a good bit about Lewis’ life, from his lifelong relationship with Mrs. Moore, the mother of a friend who died in WWI, to his sad falling out with JRR Tolkien.  That latter is one of the benefits of reading such a biography; we always hear the stories of how Tolkien and Lewis were great friends and Tolkien’s role in Lewis’ conversion.  Yet I was unfamiliar with the sad story of their drifting apart.  It was also helpful to move through Lewis’ life and writings chronologically, seeing how he moved from writing apologetic works to other sorts of works later in life.  Overall, a fantastic book that ought to be read by any fan of Lewis.

My Top Ten Lewis Books:

1. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – I first read this during church when I was about ten and it has been a favorite of mine since.  This story introduces us to the magical world of Narnia and is a plain fantastic story.  On another level, it gave me a new perspective on Jesus with the parallels between Jesus and Aslan.

2. Till We Have Faces – I wanted to put this number one as it blew my mind when I read it as an adult.  It is number two simply because of the lifelong impact The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has had on me.  But this is really Lewis’ best work of fiction, and his most mature as the simpler allegories of Narnia are traded in for more difficult to discover themes.

3. The Four Loves – Also a recent read, this book brought together and made sense of a lot of what I had been thinking in regards to love and affection.  In other words, it put into clear words what I had been trying to grasp.

4. The Great Divorce – Lewis’ vision of heaven and hell is fascinating.

5. Mere Christianity – Perhaps Lewis’ most popular non-fiction work, this book has stood the test of time and continues to challenge many people today.  It is amazing the number of Christians who say this book helped them move into faith.  At times a little dated and some arguments are not satisfying, but as a whole, a must-read for any thinking Christian.

6. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – My favorite Narnia book growing up.

7. The Last Battle – The finale to the Narnia series and still one of the best descriptions of heaven I’ve ever read.

8. A Grief Observed – In the Problem of Pain Lewis gave a rational answer to the problem of evil, twenty years later we see him struggling in the dark after the death of his wife.  This book is raw and reveals what any of us ought to admit – even the best of rational answers in good times do not always satisfy in the dark times.

9. The Abolition of Man – One of Lewis’ shortest books and, in my opinion, one of the most difficult.  Reading it now, it is almost prophetic in its analysis of the modern world.

10. Letters to Children – With the success of Narnia, Lewis received and responded to many letters from kids all over the world.  This little book of some of these letters is a fun window into Lewis’ daily life.

One thought on “CS Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath (Review) And Top Ten Lewis Books

  1. I am also a major Lewis fan. I think I would put Mere Christianity first, but I’ve read the Narnia series over and over. A Grief Observed and Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy are two of the best books on grief I have ever read. Because Vanauken and Lewis were friends, there are even several Lewis letters in A Severe Mercy.

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