I love to read. In the many years that I have been doing it, I have opened a lot of books. Most I have finished; some I have not. As I get older (not old), I have come to agree with the sentiment behind C.S. Lewis’s comment, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” It doesn’t really matter if the first reading was at ten or well after that, a book worth reading is worth reading again.
I will add that I have also become much more particular as to the books I will read. I realized some time ago, that there are a lot more books in the world than I will ever have time to read, so it means that I will have to be more selective as to which ones I do read.
Below I share some of the books I have read. I have tried to provide enough information in the reviews to help any readers to decide if they are worth the time to read. If you do pick up any of the books reviewed, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
To comply with the FTC ruling (from December 1, 2009) with respect to bloggers getting paid to write reviews, I include the following disclosure:
There are links provided to the books reviewed below. I have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. As part of this affiliate relationship, I receive a commission on any sales generated by click-throughs of those affiliate links. If you choose to use the links, I thank you. If not, you should be able to find the works in many other places.
The Mind of the Maker by Dorthy Sayers
The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers is a fascinating book that can be read on multiple levels. She starts by arguing that various statements found in orthodox Christian creeds about God the Creator are not merely arbitrary formulations; rather they proceed from an understanding of the nature of the creative mind of man. She then takes the argument a step further and asserts, “the Trinitarian structure which can be shown to exist in the mind of man and in all his works is, in fact, the integral structure of the universe, and corresponds, not by pictorial imagery but by a necessary uniformity of substance, with the nature of God, in Whom all that is exists.” In other words, the creativity which we find in any artistic human endeavor (whether writing, painting, working a garden or whatever) is there because it reflects the basic structure of reality.
In support of her arguments, Dorothy Sayers spends the remainder of the work discussing the three aspects of the creative process (Idea, Energy and Power) and how they reflect the created order and the Creator. In simplistic terms, the three aspects of the creative process are:
- Idea, which is the initial concept of the thing to be (or being) created
- Energy, which is the work, the activity, the process of bringing into being what the idea represents
- Power, which is how the work is communicated to the world and it is also what produces a corresponding response to the work by those who see it.
She spends a good deal of time refining and clarifying the meaning of these terms, and along the way has some incredible insights into the world in which we live.
The book can be read as Apologetics in defense of certain Christian creeds. But, it can also be read on a purely secular level as a highly insightful discussion of the creative process. In either case, if read with an open mind, it is filled with amazing reflections on creativity.
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia are considered classics for good reason. They stand on their own as well written fantasy – not the many-layered epic fantasy of a Tolkien, but more like the magical, enchanting fantasy of George MacDonald. They owe their charm and power to Lewis’s amazing ability to weave the mundane and the fantastical into a “story”. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of the stories is the way in which Lewis writes them. From the first, the author inserts occasional parenthetical comments in a non-intrusive way that makes you feel like you are being told a story by a beloved uncle, not simply reading a book. But, the stories move along in an engaging way and hold the readers interest throughout.
The Chronicles are also what I would consider “lightly allegorical”. They are very much about what is right and what is wrong, and they revolve around a central figure, Aslan, who embodies what is right. But again, with the handling of a master story teller like Lewis, the stories are never preachy and they never get bogged down in a “message”. They simply reflect what the author wants to convey in a well-structured, very interesting, fantastical world.
As an aside, I am from the old school. The newer versions of the Chronicles are typically published in the chronological order of the world of Narnia (1. The Magician’s Nephew; 2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 3. The Horse and His Boy; 4. Prince Caspian; 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 6. The Silver Chair; 7. The Last Battle.) . Lewis actually wrote the stories in a different order. I would recommend the stories be read (at least the first time through) in the order in which Lewis wrote them (1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 2. Prince Caspian; 3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 4. The Silver Chair; 5. The Horse and His Boy; 6. The Magician’s Nephew; 7. The Last Battle.). I think this gives the reader a better sense of discovering the world of Narnia in the way Lewis discovered it as he wrote the stories.
In whatever order you read them, they really are a must read for anyone with an interest in fantasy, truly good characters and even story telling (and writing) technique.