C.S. Lewis, a prolific author, scholar, and theologian, has left an indelible mark on the literary world with his profound narratives and thought-provoking views on spirituality and morality. Best known for his beloved “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, Lewis’s compelling storytelling, rich with allegory and symbolism, continues to captivate readers of all ages. With a bibliography as extensive as Lewis’s, it could be challenging for beginners to know where to start. This article will guide you on your journey into the rich literary world of C.S. Lewis books, starting with where to begin and highlighting seven must-read books complete with their summaries.
About C.S. Lewis
Who Was C.S. Lewis?
Clive Staples Lewis, better known as C.S. Lewis, was born in Belfast, Ireland on November 29th 1898. He lived the majority of his life in Oxford, England, where he attended University College to study Classics and Philosophy before embarking on a teaching career at Magdalen College. An esteemed scholar, Lewis wrote extensively on topics such as literature, philosophy, and religion. His profound insights into the human condition and his ability to weave deep theological truths into engaging narratives have made his books timeless classics. His works have been translated into dozens of languages, and he has become one of the most beloved authors of the twentieth century.
Was CS Lewis Catholic or Protestant?
C.S. Lewis was raised in a Protestant family, specifically the Church of Ireland (Anglican), and remained an Anglican for much of his life. However, he did explore other faiths during his studies, including Roman Catholicism. He eventually converted to Christianity, and although never fully publicly embracing any denomination, he had a strong admiration for Catholicism and its teachings.
About C.S. Lewis Books
What was C.S. Lewis most known for?
C.S. Lewis was most well-known for his seven-part children’s series, which began with the iconic publication of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” (Amazon or Bookshop.) This beloved set of stories has become a treasured part of popular culture, inspiring movies, music, television shows, plays, and more. But Lewis wrote much more than just this classic fantasy series; he wrote many books, including his autobiographical works, science fiction, and non-fiction.
Where Should Beginners Start Reading C.S. Lewis Books?
For readers just beginning to explore C.S. Lewis books, the best starting place is “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” (Amazon or Bookshop,) the first book released in the “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. In the novel, four young siblings discover an enchanting world in the back of a wardrobe, and they come face-to-face with Aslan, a majestic lion and the true king of Narnia, who must battle the White Witch to restore peace and harmony to the land. This classic novel is perhaps Lewis’s most acclaimed work and serves as a great introduction to his writing style, themes, and characters. After reading this beloved novel, readers should move on to other books in the series. But if the fantasy genre is not your cup of tea, try his science fiction novel “Out of the Silent Planet,” which explores themes of faith and morality in a more straightforward manner.
7 Must-Read C. S. Lewis Books
For readers looking to explore books by C.S. Lewis, here is a list of seven must-read books:
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
- The Great Divorce
- Mere Christianity
- The Screwtape Letters
- Till We Have Faces
- A Grief Observed
- Out of the Silent Planet
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
“The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” is the first installment in C.S. Lewis’s famed series, “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The story revolves around four siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, who, during their stay in an old country house to escape the London Blitz, stumble upon a magical wardrobe that serves as a portal to the mystical land of Narnia. This world, trapped in an eternal winter by the evil White Witch, is populated with talking animals and mythical creatures. The children, led by the noble lion Aslan, embark on a quest to free Narnia from the witch’s tyranny, discovering courage, friendship, and the power of sacrifice along the way. The book masterfully combines elements of fantasy, adventure, and Christian allegory, making it a timeless classic in children’s literature.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
“The Great Divorce” is a powerful theological allegory about the choice between Heaven and Hell. The storyline follows an unnamed protagonist who, along with a host of other discontented souls, embarks on a bus ride from a grey, dreary, and seemingly hellish town to the outskirts of heaven, a vibrant and beautiful landscape. Through a series of conversations with souls from both realms, Lewis explores deep questions about good, evil, grace, and judgment, ultimately illustrating that the decision between Hell and Heaven is one’s own to make. This book is known for its imaginative representation and philosophical exploration of Christian teachings on life, death, and the afterlife.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Mere Christianity” is a seminal work that articulates the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. Originally a series of radio broadcasts during World War II, the book is a thoughtful exploration of core Christian beliefs, encompassing themes such as the nature of God, the concept of righteousness, the Christian virtue of love, and the power of prayer. Written in a lucid, accessible style, “Mere Christianity” serves as both an introduction to Christian thought and a profound spiritual treatise.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
“The Screwtape Letters” is a unique and insightful exploration of temptation and the struggle between good and evil as seen from a devil’s perspective. The book comprises a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his novice nephew Wormwood. Screwtape offers guidance on how to lead a man – referred to as ‘the patient’ – away from God (referred to as ‘The Enemy’) and towards sin, using daily life’s trials and tribulations. The story provides a profound philosophical and psychological insight into the human condition and spiritual warfare, showcasing Lewis’s understanding of human nature and his ability to describe spiritual struggle from an unusual viewpoint. “The Screwtape Letters” is a thought-provoking read that challenges readers to scrutinize their own behaviors and motivations.
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
“Till We Have Faces” is a profound and poignant retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Orual, Psyche’s older sister. Deeply jealous of Psyche’s beauty and her relationship with a god (Cupid), Orual, the ugly queen of Glome, accuses the gods of injustice for allowing her love for Psyche to turn into a consuming obsession. The novel is an exploration of love in its various forms and the transformative power of divine grace. It delves into the human struggle with faith, the gods’ silence, and the pain of love, offering a profound meditation on the nature of the divine and human selfhood. Often considered Lewis’s most mature and masterful work, “Till We Have Faces” gives a voice to the human complaint against divine silence, making it a must-read for admirers of C.S. Lewis and mythology enthusiasts alike.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
“A Grief Observed” is a deeply personal and introspective exploration of the despair and loss C.S. Lewis experienced following the death of his wife, Joy Davidman. The book, initially published under a pseudonym due to its intimate and raw nature, is a collection of Lewis’s reflections and experiences during this time of profound grief. It discusses the anguish of loss, the questioning of faith, and, ultimately, the resurrection of belief. Lewis grapples with his faith, questioning God’s goodness and presence in the face of his suffering. The narrative journey from despair to reaffirmed faith is a profound portrayal of the human encounter with grief, making “A Grief Observed” a moving and essential read for anyone dealing with loss.
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
“Out of the Silent Planet” is the first novel in C.S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy. The story follows the adventures of Dr. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, who is kidnapped and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra (Mars.) There, he escapes his captors and encounters a world of strange and diverse creatures. The book is an allegorical tale that contrasts the inherent values of the alien Malacandrian society, which lives in harmony with the divine natural world against the destructive and imperialistic tendencies of humanity. With its richly imagined world and thought-provoking themes, “Out of the Silent Planet” marks the beginning of a great philosophical science fiction series by C.S. Lewis.
Frequently Asked Questions about CS Lewis Books
What themes are explored in CS Lewis books?
Themes of faith, morality, and redemption are prominent throughout C.S. Lewis books. He also explores topics such as love, grief, friendship, courage, and renewal in his stories. His unique blend of fantasy and philosophy make for an exhilarating reading experience that can captivate readers from diverse backgrounds.
What age group are CS Lewis books for?
The majority of C.S. Lewis books are appropriate for readers of all ages, although some books are geared more towards children such as the “Chronicles of Narnia” series and his other fantasy works while others may be better suited to adult readers such as “A Grief Observed” or “Mere Christianity.”
In what order do I read CS Lewis books?
The best way to read C.S. Lewis books is to start with “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” the first book in his beloved “Chronicles of Narnia” series. After that, you can explore other books in the series, as well as any of his standalone works such as “Mere Christianity,” “The Screwtape Letters,” and “Till We Have Faces.”
Why did CS Lewis write Narnia?
C.S. Lewis wrote the “The Chronicles of Narnia” as a way to explore themes of faith, morality, and courage through an entertaining and relatable story for children. He was inspired by his own childhood experiences and wanted to write books that could spark a child’s imagination while teaching them valuable lessons about life.
What age is appropriate for Chronicles of Narnia?
The “Chronicles of Narnia” books are typically recommended for readers aged eight and up. The series is written for readers at a middle grade level, although it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The books may be suitable for younger readers depending on their maturity level and the series can also be enjoyed by adults, with many readers enjoying the magical world of Narnia just as much as children do.
Whether you’re just starting or are already an experienced reader, there is something here for everyone. No matter which book you choose, it’s sure to be a thought-provoking and inspiring journey because C.S. Lewis books are as varied and captivating as his life was, so for readers wanting to explore all he had to offer, there is no shortage of wonderful stories to enjoy. While this list gives a great starting point, the best way to appreciate C.S. Lewis and his works is to dive in and explore the vast imagination of this beloved author for yourself!
What do you think about these C.S. Lewis books?
Have you read any books by C.S. Lewis? Are any of these books or his other works on your TBR? What book by C.S. Lewis is your favorite? What other C.S. Lewis books would you add to this list? Let us talk about it in the comments below.
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Last Updated on August 25, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle