Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Surprised by Laughter.

C.S. Lewis holds the position as my favorite author (tied with Jane Austen). I first discovered him through the incredible Chronicles of Narnia, and since then I've read more of his nonfiction and other novels. Even though occasionally his writings feel a little over my head, I love his way with words and his cleverness.

So, when I saw this book, I was really excited. :) I have to admit that the cover drew me in quite a bit...of course, it reminded me of pre-Aslan Edmund drawing a face on a stone creature just to try and make himself feel better.

Surprised by Laughter, by Terry Lindvall, PH.D., is about the humor of C.S. Lewis, shown through stories about his life, his letters, his nonfiction, and his novels. It's divided into four main sections (based on what Screwtape calls the four origins of laughter): joy, fun, the joke proper, and satire and flippancy.

I really enjoyed this book. This was the first biographical sort of book (besides Lewis' autobiography) that I had read about C.S. Lewis. Before, I thought that I would have liked him as a person, and now, besides that, I almost feel like I knew him. :) Maybe that sounds crazy, but this book really seems to give insight on who C.S. Lewis was.

My favorite section by far was the one on fun. It lifted my spirits and made me smile {and gave me many places to mark and come back to later}. It was the most practical- lots of inspiration and encouragement to live life to the fullest. It included stories about enjoying life, even (or especially) the little unexpected things or change of plans where you have the choice to grumble about it or laugh about it. I also loved the connection between humility and humor that I had never seen before:

"A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity...But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego." -p. 139

"Out of humus and humere grow humanity, humility, and humor." -p. 141

I'll admit that it convicted me, because apparently it's often my pride and self-consciousness that holds me back from having fun. {But maybe more on that in a later post.}

I also loved this quote: "It is curious that of the Ten Commandments the one to honor and keep the Sabbath is the one with the most immediate benefit to us, yet it is the one we break most casually." -p. 167

Having said all of that, at times reading this book felt sluggish and I had to pull myself through. It's a bit heavy and long-winded sometimes. And honestly, I mostly skimmed the last section on satire, because it just wasn't very interesting to me. But the parts that were good were very good.

So all in all, I enjoyed the book. I think that so many people see Christianity as such a solemn and dull life, but honestly it's not supposed to be that way. Of course, life is full of difficult times, but in the words of Switchfoot, "The shadow proves the sunshine." The life and works of C.S. Lewis are a wonderful example of this. If you're a fellow fan, I think you would enjoy it. At the very least, it will encourage you to read or reread more of his work. :) I'm determined to finally read his Space Trilogy.

Until next time,

*Note: I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze. In exchange, I'm required to write an honest (and not necessarily positive) review.*

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