Publisher and Publication Date: HarperOne. 2019.
Audience: Readers of C. S. Lewis. Readers who enjoy reading about the joy of reading.
Rating: Very good.
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The Reading Life is a collection of pulled material from C. S. Lewis’s books, essays, reviews, and letters. They all have the subject of his reflections and views on reading.
The book is divided in two sections:
Part One: On The Art and Joy of Reading.
Part Two: Short Readings on Reading.
The pulled material for this book is from several sources. I have all the references listed and the number represents how often it is used: An Experiment in Criticism (4), Of Other Worlds (5), Present Concerns (2), God in the Dock (2), Surprised by Joy (4), George MacDonald: An Anthology, Studies in Worlds, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature (2), The Four Loves, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (2), Selected Literary Essays (3), “Letters to Arthur Greeves” (10), The Weight of Glory (2), Christian Reflections (2), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (2), “Letter to Ruth Pitter”, The Four Loves, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays (2), Mere Christianity (2), “Letter to Warfield M. Firor”, “Letters to Rhona Bodle” (2), “Letter to Sarah Neylan”, “Letters to Dom Bede Griffiths” (2), Rehabilitations and Other Essays, and Reflections on the Psalms.
I feel it is important to list all of the references for two reasons.
1. The Reading Life doesn’t have an index or notes section. The source is given with each reference at the quote, but it is not in complete for a one stop reference .
2. It is important for the reader to know if the book uses too many references from the same source and not enough from others.
I feel The Reading Life has complied a solid collection for the single volume book. I see a few repeaters, but not heavy with them.
My favorite take-away from the book is learning Lewis had a fantastic memory. If a student began to say lines from Paradise lost, Lewis picked up where the student stopped and continued by memory. It didn’t matter where in the book the lines were spoken, Lewis knew the book in its entirety by memory. He also had a strong memory from all the books he’d read. So, not only was he an avid reader and writer, but had a strong memory.
“Why We Read” and “How To Know If You Are A True Reader” are my favorite chapters. These are actually the first chapters in the book.
I know the reasons why I read, but I enjoyed Lewis’ wordy explanation of why I read. It sounds much better coming from him.
I already know I’m a true reader, but one of the reasons has never dawned on me. I re-read books. Lewis states this as the first reason for a “true reader.”
A funny chapter is on murdering words. “Verbicide, the murder of a word, happens in many ways.” Page 81.
And, because I am a Tolkien fan. I enjoyed reading Lewis’s reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
The Reading Life is small, and I dislike. I’d prefer a large volume on Lewis’s quotes on reading.