Title: Surprised by Joy:
The Shape of My Early Life
Author: C. S. Lewis
Genre: Autobiography / Philosophy
Pages: 238
Rating: 4.5 of 5

Here is the first in the promised series of C. S. Lewis books from the class I am auditing. In Surprised by Joy, Lewis chronicles the journey that led him to reject his (nominally) Christian upbringing for atheism and then slowly return to faith through agnosticism, basic theism, and finally trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Throughout this time of his life, Lewis was pursuing what he called joy. When he talks about joy he is referring to a desirable longing for “something.” That “something” was at first very ill-defined, but over time he came to understand it as a longing for something unattainable in this world.

Lewis was far more interested in his spiritual journey than in telling about his life events for their own sake. This leads him to omit or rapidly pass over some major life events (e.g. his service in WWI, his long-lasting poorly-defined relationship with Mrs. Moore) that he feels did not have deep spiritual impact. This results in all kinds of second-guessing from people who write Lewis biographies as to what really influenced him and what really happened, but I think that such reading between the lines is unhelpful and misses out on enjoying the story as Lewis chooses to tell it.

Overall: interesting as a unique spiritual autobiography and even more so as a starting place in exploring the works of one of the 20th century’s greatest Christian authors.

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