I can now report that I have finished reading Planet Narnia and enjoyed it very much indeed. I actually used my brain while reading it and learned many things. I still don’t know if Mr Ward’s hypothesis is correct, but he makes a convincing argument in a very informative and interesting book, so I don’t really mind whether it is or not. I think it’s probably one of those things that can’t be proved right or wrong either way unless C. S. Lewis himself could actually tell us what he was thinking when he wrote the Chronicles.
I’m now reading The Problem of Pain, which is proving to be a challenging but fascinating read. I should read something other than a C. S. Lewis-related book soon, though, otherwise I might be tempted to start studying theology again and that would never do.
I have now done my yearly book list, which you can have a look at, if you want to. I don’t think I read as many books as I should do, or at least my end of year book list never seems as long as I expect it to be. As ever, I will try to read more books this year.
I think the best book I read last year was Wolf Hall. It was very engrossing, and very interesting. I learned a lot about Tudor England and Hilary Mantel manages to make Thomas Cromwell, someone who is often seen as a rather unsympathetic figure, into someone you actually start rooting for. Quite a feat, given the awful things he actually did or caused to be done.
The worst book (or the one I enjoyed the least) was One Day. I just didn’t think it was very well written, the two protagonists were both irritating and dislikeble and the ending was a complete let down. In my humble opinion.
I seem to have read a lot of C. S. Lewis books last year, all of which I enjoyed in different ways, even though I found some of them a bit odd. Speaking of Lewis, we went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the other day. I really liked it, although Mr C says it is a bit different to the book (but he still liked it). I realised I either haven’t read the book or can’t remember it, so I’m reading it (possibly again) at the moment – my first book of 2011.
I recently finished reading Surprised by Joy, Lewis’s autobiographical work dealing with his early life up to the time of his conversion to Christianity. The only other non-fiction work of Lewis’s that I have read is The Great Divorce , which I found fairly straightforward, and so I expected to find his autobiography quite easy to get into and understand. However, I was not prepared for how alien his life seemed to me, how many words I didn’t understand (!) and how many concepts were (to me) so obscure.
Even the concept of “Joy” as Lewis terms it and experienced it, was quite hard for me to grasp, but then I think it is something that is almost impossible to describe because, it seems to me, it is such a subjective thing. Lewis’s experiences of life were so different from mine, and, I expect very different from most people living in the UK today. The world of a middle class boy growing into a young man during the early part of the twentieth century seemed like another world to me.
This was not necessarily a bad thing – it just wasn’t what I was expecting, which I suppose was a bit silly of me, given the differences between us as individuals and the changes in society that have taken place since 1929 (when the book ends). I found it all rather fascinating and quite enjoyed having to look up lots of words I’d never heard of (such as ‘quiddity’ and ‘Anthroposophist’, which better read people than me have probably heard of, but I obviously need to read more books!) and it probably did me good. I definitely learned a lot, if nothing else.