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From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey Paperback – June 5, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307730824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307730824
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,016,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebrated essayist, critic and fantasy novelist C.S. Lewis enjoys a posthumous popularity among evangelicals thanks to his defense, mounted in The Screwtape Letters and elsewhere, of traditional Christianity in a modern, secular world. In this collection of short excerpts from authors that Lewis cited favorably either in his own writings or in his library marginalia, Bell, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Bible, concentrates on religious influences. The selection, grouped according to such themes as "God’s Love," "Sin and Temptation," and "Heaven, Death, and Immortality," includes pieces by Church Fathers, from Athanasius to Aquinas; medieval mystics like Julian of Norwich and Francis of Assisi; Reformation-era luminaries like Luther, Calvin and Pascal; and modern clergymen and religious academics like George MacDonald and C.H. Dodd, along with some surprises, like Carl Jung on Jesus and prayers from Samuel Johnson. A few sections devoted to secular writings include critical appreciations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen and poetry by Chaucer, Coleridge and Wordsworth. The pieces are not always well chosen; the snippets of Aquinas convey mostly a sense of arid pedantry, and a eulogistic letter by Lewis’s friend J.R.R. Tolkien goes on about obscure academic rivalries. And the emphasis on religious writings lends the book a strongly devotional, pious and sermonizing tone. The collection’s most congenial feature for contemporary readers is the heavy dose it provides of G. K. Chesterton, a modern Catholic writer whose punchy, demotic style was a strong influence on Lewis’s own popular Christian apologetics.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“This is the perfect entrance to the world C. S. Lewis inhabited, and it arrives just when that world of books is under threat of extinction. Thanks to those who have given us such a gold mine.”
–Walter Hooper, Literary Advisor to the C. S. Lewis Estate, one of the world’s leading authorities on the life and works of C. S. Lewis, and the editor of dozens of Lewis’s works

“This is a knowledgeable and inspired selection from what C. S. Lewis called the ‘old books’ that nurtured his mind, spirit, and imagination. All who love the writings of the master will enjoy these engaging passages from the vast range of Lewis’s reading and relish the light that they cast upon his concerns.”
–Colin Duriez, author of A Field Guide to Narnia, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia

“C. S. Lewis, one of the great men of letters of the twentieth century, loved books. To truly know Lewis, one must become familiar with the body of literature that marked his life. Jim Bell and Tony Dawson give curious students of Lewis a glimpse of the books and authors that informed his life’s work and kindled his imagination.”
–Jerry Root, assistant professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, co-editor of The Quotable C. S. Lewis and C. S. Lewis scholar

“One of the great benefits of reading C. S. Lewis is his singular ability to introduce his own readers to the works of other authors. In this volume, Bell and Dawson have made it easier for us to uncover the literary influences and preferences that characterized Lewis’s own reading. The editors have arranged these excerpts around a variety of appealing subjects such as fantasy and imagination, suffering, prayer and contemplation, and God’s love. This arrangement invites the reader to enter into the selections devotionally–to enjoy and benefit from these literary treasures much as Lewis himself did. This book is an excellent resource for those interested in meeting new authors, as well as a wonderful way to remind ourselves of favorite texts too long neglected.”
–Marjorie Lamp Mead, associate director of The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, co-editor of Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis and C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone studying Lewis or someone has read a great deal of Lewis.
J. P. Stevens
James Stuart Bell along with Anthony P. Dawson has compiled selections from writers who influenced C.S. Lewis' spiritual journey and his writing in this one book.
Happy shopper
What I am enjoying about this book is that each selection is short -- a page or two -- and fairly easy to read.
Debra Brinkman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Walter on December 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As possibly the most popular and influential Christian intellectual of the 20th century, Lewis has generated great interest in his literary and spiritual influences. As one looks further and further into the subject, there is an impossible desire to read every book that Lewis loved. This book (the most fascinating "Lewis-related" book I've seen) collects short excerpts (most are a single page) from writers who influenced Lewis, thus giving the reader a taste of many fascinating writers and making it possible for one to focus in on a few avenues for further exploration in the future. Looking through the book, it's just hard to believe that no one ever thought of doing this before.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gandalf on April 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In order to understand the deep sea of Lewis' thinking and opinions, it is necessary to explore the many streams and rivers of thought, experience and philosophy that contributed to that great ocean of erudition. Lewis was a scholar who read an incredible amount of material in the course of his life. Throughout his writings one finds continuous references to ideas and observations that he picked up from the great writers of the ancient and medieval world, as well as his own great contemporaries. Lewis debts to these writers inevitably leads one to seek out and explore them as well.
In my own case, I discovered two of my favorite writer/thinkers, G. K. Chesterton and George MacDonald, through my reading of C. S. Lewis. The book under review gives one an expanded opportunity to discover and enjoy the reading heritage that was so important to Lewis and to the development of his theology and philosophy. Even more, it allows children of a desicated age to experience and drink in some of the great thinkers and writers of our Western heritage. Writers who, alas, are no longer shared with students as a part of what we used to call a higher education.
Therefore, if you love C. S. Lewis, Western Civilization, or just reading, get this book, read it, think it and treasure it. It will be one of the best investments that you have ever made.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Nolan on December 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
C.S. Lewis is one of this centuries most influential writers/thinkers. This book does an excellent job of giving us deep insight into the writings which had a profound influence on Lewis' own spiritual pilgrimage. Even if you have only a remote interest in his writings or thought, get this book. If I could give higher than 5 stars I would. Great!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Crane on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm a fan of C.S. Lewis, so I thought I would love this book. What Lewis fan would not like "Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey"? But I was disappointed. The "Selections from Writers" part is true. The book is composed of short passages (1 page or so) followed by two or three lines about the author. I really wanted a more about the passage, the author, how they influenced Lewis or even about why those passages were selected. Only in a few instances did the attribution mention anything about how the author or passage influenced Lewis. On the positive side, I did enjoy some of the selections. But that's all the positive I can muster.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, what is not to love about a book that is gives us C.S. Lewis' favorite "Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey." The Library of C.S. Lewis is a nearly 400-page compilation of some of the greatest writers through the centuries, those writers who influenced Clive.

James Stuart Bell (who wrote his master's thesis on Lewis and compiled all the selections) wrote in the introduction, "To truly understand Lewis and his works we need to get behind his role as Christian apologist to his interest in philosophy and literature, in reason and romanticism. Lewis was not a one-dimensional reader. His eclectic tastes ranged over a wide variety of genres and time periods."

That explains the wonderful breadth of writers and excerpts featured in the book. What I loved is the sampling one gets of such a great variety of writers and thinkers. At the end of each excerpt is a paragraph bio on the writer...providing an opportunity to seek out complete works to read. I also loved that you can pick and choose what to read -- it is not a linear book but rather one arranged by topic. In fact, it would be great to enjoy an excerpt each day versus reading it all through at once.
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Format: Paperback
From the Library of C.S. Lewis is a reference book filled with selections from C.S. Lewis' personal library. This book, compiled by James Stuart Bell and Anthony Dawson, is broken into eighteen sections. The primary focus of the book is to highlight works (and writers) who influenced Lewis' spiritual journey, as Lewis is regarded as one of the finest Christian thinkers of the 20th Century. There are a few other sections that are not dedicated to religion (such as a section on fantasy & imagination), but these are definitely the minority of page takers.

I found the concept interesting and so I requested a review copy from the publisher. I like Lewis (especially Mere Christianity), but I'm not fanatic about him by no means. I'm also finding myself getting a bit more interested in biographical works as I'm getting older, and I'm a believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the types of things they read.

Unfortunately, my initial excitement quickly faded. Page after page I read through archaic texts and dated sermon notes. The material was interesting, but my daily dose of deep theology and introspective meditation could not handle deluge. As such, I took to skimming things, and that's not what I wanted to do. So then I decided to read devotionally, just picking a page a day or something and seeing what was said. I noticed a lot of repeated writers and works, and I suppose these were more influential on Lewis than others, but that's pure speculation on my part.

Each selection is presented with a title, its source, the text, and then a mini author biography (Twitter-esque). This format is perfect, and each selection spans at most three pages. Much of the text is heavy and deep, as I've said, and I recommend it in small chunks to avoid duress.
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