Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From the Library of C.S. Lewis Compiled by James Stuart Bell

From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey, is an amazing collection of selections from the works and authors that most influenced Lewis. Compiled by James Stuart Bell, this collection includes works on eighteen different topics including God's love, humility, suffering, sin and temptation, and fantasy and imagination. Authors included range from as ancient as Anicius Boethius, to as contemporary as Lewis' wife Joy Davidman; they vary in fame from the relatively unknown Walter Hilton to the immensely popular G.K. Chesterton. Selections include works that inspired Lewis creatively, such as pieces of Wordsworth's poetry, to works that influenced him theologically such as St. Augustine's Confession.

The organization of this impressive collection is very helpful to the reader. All selections are grouped in chapters that have one specific topic. Being able to go to a particular topic and see who influenced Lewis in this area is very convenient. Another great feature of this book are the notes included about each author at the end of each selection. The author's dates of birth and death are provided so that the reader knows when he/she lived. A brief description of the author's most important work or role in church history is given to provide more context. The most fascinating notes are those that mention specific thoughts Lewis had about the authors. For example, in the notes about George MacDonald, it says that, "MacDonald had a profound influence on on C.S. Lewis. Lewis said that MacDonald's Phantastes 'baptized my imagination'" (8). Another example of this personalization is included in the notes about G.K. Chesterton. It states that, "C.S. Lewis says, in Surprised by Joy, that Chesterton's Christian apologetics had a marked impact on him, and Lewis' own apologetic work owes a debt to Chesterton" (36).

This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is a fan of C.S. Lewis; beyond that, it is an impressive collection of selections from works that have influenced the church throughout the ages, on topics that are vitally important to the church. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in an overview of these topics.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255