It's the last day of July, y'all. We are closer to the end of 2017 than we are to the beginning. This year is flying by, right?
Anyway, I recently read Surprised by Joy by Clive Staples Lewis. This was a book from my 2017 book list so yay! for progress. Surprised by Joy is the somewhat autobiographical account of Lewis' conversion to Christianity. It's not exactly an autobiography in the true sense of the word since his main focus in writing it was to give an account of his quest for the elusive phenomenon of "joy" which Lewis describes as an intense longing or desire for something so good or high or outside of oneself that it can't be explained in words.
In Surprised by Joy, Lewis recounts significant events or periods in his early life leading to his decision to be an atheist. He then describes all the differing philosophies and theories he tries to work through until he finally has to make the leap from atheism to Theism and from Theism to Christianity.
The thing I most appreciated while reading Surprised by Joy was Lewis' honesty. He doesn't sugarcoat things or pull any punches. He presents and examines the events in his life, the people who influenced him, and the choices he made in a straightforward and unapologetic way. Rather than demonizing or glorifying these things, he recognizes them all for what they were worth in his personal journey to Christianity and doesn't over- or undervalue any of it. I love that.
The other thing I appreciated about Surprised by Joy, and the thing I appreciate in general when reading anything by C.S. Lewis, is that he makes you think. Even though Surprised by Joy was more autobiographical in nature than other books and essays I've read by Lewis, I couldn't fly through it. I had to stop and mull over what he was saying and let his words really penetrate my soul. He wasn't just talking about his life or his conversion, he was presenting ideas and thoughts that I had to agree or disagree with in regards to my own life and Christianity. That's good writing.
I enjoyed finding things old Jack and I have in common and I was also challenged by how well-read he was. There are just too many books, y'all, and not enough time to read them all. The similarities between his education and John Adams' education particularly interested me after having recently read John Adams' biography this year. It's unfortunate that the standards of education seem to have declined so much in the last 100 years. For instance, while I might have a general idea of who Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero were and when they lived, Lewis and Adams were intimately acquainted with all their thoughts and ideas. While I took a couple Spanish classes in high school and college, Lewis and Adams learned to speak, read, and write several other languages in their lifetimes including Latin which was not just a matter of course but absolutely essential.
I would not hesitate to recommend Surprised by Joy. While I certainly wouldn't call it an easy read, it's definitely a worthwhile one.
Have you read Surprised by Joy or any of Lewis' non-fiction? What is your favorite work by C.S. Lewis? Any recommendations for next year's list? I'm leaning towards The Four Loves or Mere Christianity.