Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

You Don't Know Jack

In my continuing quest to review all the books I’ve read this year, I’m going to tackle all the C. S. “Jack” Lewis related books in one go. I’ll start with the books by Lewis himself.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis 5/5 stars

How have I been an evangelical all my life and never read this book? It’s practically considered required reading in many circles, and now I understand why. Lewis was not a great theologian, but he was a great human being and a great popularizer of theology. In a time that desperately needs more Christians who are both thoughtful and passionate about their faith, Mere Christianity paints with broad strokes the image of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis 4/5 stars

I mentioned above that Lewis is not a great theologian. Nowhere have I seen this more clearly than in his Reflections on the Psalms. Seriously, Lewis, you dropped the ball on this one. Lewis finds the Psalms unsuitable for public worship and containing many examples of sinful attitudes on the part of the Psalmist toward his enemies. However, as always, Lewis demonstrates a piercing understanding of human self-delusion regarding sin that ranks right up there with Dante. The book has its sublime moments though which make it absolutely worth reading, like most anything by Lewis.

Through Joy and Beyond by Walter Hooper 4/5 stars

This was a picture-laden biography of Lewis, written by his literary executor, Walter Hooper. As a biography I enjoyed it, though in places it seemed more hagiography than biography. When I was reading it, I thought it was really odd that Hooper kept inserting himself into the text in the third person. Though he was only Lewis’s secretary for less than a year, he finds a way to show up throughout the book. For example, instead of simply telling about an event in Lewis’s life, he may write something like, Walter Hooper sat down to talk with Lewis’s friend Owen Barfield about this time in Lewis’s life. It was kind of weird.

The C.S. Lewis Hoax by Kathryn Lindskoog 4/5 stars

Aaand…This book explained the weirdness. Kathryn Lindskoog, a Lewis scholar, argues in this book that Hooper mostly made up a story about Lewis’s brother burning Lewis’s manuscripts after Lewis died. According to Hooper’s story, he rescued a pile of manuscripts from the flames and continues to edit and publish them to this day. Lewis’s groundskeeper at the time remembers nothing of such an event. Lindskoog’s main contention is that the story The Dark Tower posthumously published is not really a work by Lewis but a forgery. Whether it is or isn’t, and the case is fairly sketchy, I was convinced that Hooper is a weirdo who really wished he were Lewis’s best buddy. Does it strike you as at all creepy that Hooper possesses and cherishes C.S. Lewis’s baby blanket?

Journey into Narnia by Kathryn Lindskoog 5/5 stars

This was an awesome companion to the Chronicles of Narnia and would be great for a school unit study. There are essays about each book, review questions, activities, and recipes for food from the books. Lot’s of fun.