Bookish Radness

Instagram is My Jam

Even though my blogging has slowed down quite a bit, I’m still reading all the things and wanted to let y’all know where you can find more consistent book reviews and features!

Instagram Account Numero Uno (@jamielynne82)
I post at least once a week about books, but am trying out Instastories more. All that to say: BOOKS! (And occasionally my cat, my favorite humans and adventures.)

Instagram Account Numero Dos (@theinklings1926)
I haven’t told many folks about this yet, but I started an account dedicated to the Inklings. It’s a mix of quotes, mini reviews, fun facts about Tolkien and Jack, and sometimes pretty pictures of books.

And didn’t want to forget Goodreads! If we haven’t connected already, let’s!


A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?

Love and Faith

There Are Better Things Ahead

This year has been a year. In both incredible ways and also really hard and ugly ways. From personal events and happenings, to things in friend’s lives (from exciting engagements and babies to cancer diagnoses), to global events (from racism, to horrific mass shootings, to heart wrenching natural disasters to people coming together in beautiful ways), 2017 has been a year. A heavy year that I’m most definitely ready to say farewell to.

But here’s the thing: I’m thankful that each has taught me that it doesn’t end here. This is not it. It’s because of this truth, I have hope. Psalm 71:14 reads, “As for me, I will always have hope.” I don’t know what I would do without that promise. Without the Words that bring hope and are true.

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I have this hanging on a wall in my house – a gift from a friend and the quote is from none other than C.S. Lewis.

The quote comes from a letter Lewis wrote. A few months back it was posted by an author friend, Tamera Alexander, as she and her family worked through her Dad’s failing health. Here’s the full letter:

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.
17 June 1963
Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

That’s the hope that keeps me going. That no matter how horrific evil rears its head, there’s hope. This may not be the end for many of us, so I plan on making this a really great rehearsal. Christ isn’t finished yet – with me or the Church.

I will continue to fight and speak out against injustices and work towards making our nation the ideal it has long promised (and the world too). Action is an important piece to our Christian life. Whether that’s helping my neighbor or working towards change in our government. My Christianity isn’t tied to a party or one cause. It’s dedicated to the pursuit of justice (and Christian, pro-life views do not end once a baby is born, but that’s another post for another time), loving my neighbor (even when I don’t agree with them) and trying to leave this world a better place.

I will continue to pray because that is the most important piece. You know what else I will continue to do? Be active. Be a voice. Use my freedom to hold accountable politicians. Demand for more. And live everyday as I think Jesus would – serving, loving and sharing the hope I have in Christ.


In Celebration of His Birthday: 11 Favorite Quotes of C.S. Lewis

In celebration of Jack’s (aka C.S. Lewis) birthday, I thought I’d share 11 of my favorite quotes of Lewis.

1. “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2. “It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.” The Horse and His Boy

3. “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground for religion: it must have been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.” The Problem of Pain

4. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Problem of Pain

5. “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H. V. V. Dyson (then of Reading) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.” Surprised By Joy

6. “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” Mere Christianity

7. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Mere Christianity

8. “Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Weight of Glory

9. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” The Four Loves

10. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” The Great Divorce

11. “Dear Wormwood,
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause”…Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won you man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,
Your Affectionate Uncle,
The Screwtape Letters

There are so many others (I made myself stop adding quotes from Narnia), you really can’t go wrong with words from Jack. What are some of your favorite books and/or quotes of Lewis?


Some Pick a Word, I Pick a Phrase

Are y’all into the “Word for the Year” trend? I truly enjoy hearing what word people choose and why, but as for myself? My first thought is how I can’t handle the pressure of picking one word for the year and second? Having to remember it the whole year kinda stresses me out too. Totally ridiculous, I admit. But nonetheless, welcome to my brain. But apparently I’ve become all about phrases.

Last year, while it was nothing official, “Aslan is on the Move” became my phrase for 2016. In January, I kept thinking of it and remember telling my community group how I felt that “God was going to move this year, you know, Aslan is on the Move!” I had quite a different idea of how that might have turned out, but as He often does, God totally blew my expectations and dreams out of the water with the move to Colorado (among many other awesome/hard/stretching things).

I wasn’t planning on picking any words or phrases for 2017, but then one of my favorite phrases and quotes kept popping up in different ways, so I went all in.

So for 2017, here’s my phrase.

“Courage, Dear Heart”

I promise I didn’t pick another Narnia quote on purpose. Although, I’m not shocked it turned out that way.

Not only for courage in my career and my writing (I made quite a few changes in my blogging schedule, newsletter, etc), but also for the great unknown. I know God is moving (thus why “Aslan is on the move” has officially become my life motto 🙂 ), but more than knowledge, I want to have the courage to trust that with all my heart.

I want to have courage to not be overwhelmed by what’s happening around me, but bravely step out and reach out to those in need, speak out against injustice and love like Jesus does. And like Jesus often does, a few days after I decided this, I came across this verse:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

What’s your word of the year?


The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?


The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

You know when you read a book and once you finish you think “huh, not at all what I was expecting.” That’s how I felt after finishing The Weight of Glory. By no means is this a bad thing, not one bit, but there was such a variety of topics, it made for some interesting reading. I also think the fact that I have been reading Mere Christianity (for my bible study) at the same time, played a role in those expectations.

But of course I’m glad I read it! One of the takeaways for me was the vast amount of topics Lewis not only preached on, but his knowledge on so many of them. I’m pretty sure I was looking up names, pieces of literature and philosophies every other page. Like talking about the philosophy Pelagian? Oh yes, my friends and I were chatting about that just the other night….oh wait…. (It’s the belief that sin didn’t taint humanity, so there’s no need for Divine aid, in case you’re in my boat).

I love that in each of his books, Lewis is honest about his struggles. His humility is evident through his passion and writings. It always makes for intense, yet awesome reading experiences.

One of my favorite chapters was the book’s namesake “The Weight of Glory.” He wasted no time at all.
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Loved this:
“For they are not the thing itself [speaking of the beauty we find in books and music]; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not yet heard, news from a country we have never yet visited…And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.”

One more from this chapter:
“A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers.

This was not as easy of a read for me as say, Mere Christianity. Was that the case for any of y’all? Some chapters (like Transposition) were very philosophical. I felt like a freshman all over again in my philosophy 101 class. Say what did I just read?? Let’s go ahead and read that again…

I also really appreciated the introductions that described where all the chapters came from and who Lewis shared them with. Some chapters were also much more impactful for me than others, say The Weight of Glory vs. Pacifism. Although I would like to know how the Pacifist Society responded to his talk.

“Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

“To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Then his last chapter has this. He knows how to make you think –
“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end of difference what you have chosen instead.” Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the other thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?

Discussion time! Here’s a few questions I thought to get the party started :).
1. Which were your favorite chapters?
Mine were: Forgiveness, The Weight of Glory, A Slip of the Tongue and I also really enjoyed Is Theology Poetry. It’s like the ultimate literary academic argument for Christianity..comparing it to so many other works.

2. What were some of your key takeaways (whether from the book as a whole or an individual essay)?

3. Any favorite quotes?
It’s a miracle I only picked a handful of quotes for this post – ha! But the ones above were the ones that really stuck out.

4. How does this rank from the Lewis books you’ve read?
I feel I have so many more of Lewis’ books to read. This was different than the others I’ve read and I enjoyed it, but Mere Christianity still ranks number one in his theology/faith books.

5. What are thoughts would you like to add about the book?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts!


The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

Here’s the thing about reading The Return of the King….EMOTIONS. I had to keep it together with many parts, but do y’all blame me? Between Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn and all of my Middle Earth people, I felt so much of their anguish, sorrow, pain and then joy and happiness.

I’m really going to try and keep this post short, but how is one to pick just a few highlights? This is a near impossible task. For the sake of the Inklings, I will try!

Let’s kick it off with some highlights. I love that Tolkien was such the romantic. Like Faramir and Éowyn’s story? I mean stop.

“He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.”

One of the reasons I love reading Tolkien’s work, is his ability to completely draw you into the characters and feeling what they were feeling. When the Mouth of Sauron showed garments of Sam to Aragorn, Gandalf and crew, I felt their utter despair. That’s how Tolkien writes. He completely engages you and your emotions. Same with Frodo and Sam’s walk through Mordor. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And I needed a cup of water. I love how he shows, through his characters, you don’t know how much you have into until you’re put to the test.

I thought a lot about Tolkien’s war experiences while reading this one. I’m not sure why specifically in this book, but he was able to show what evil looks like. Sauron is creepy and evil enough, but He didn’t stop there – between Shelob and the Nazgûl, that’s the stuff of nightmares.

“For yet another weapon, swifter than hunger, the Lord of the Dark Tower had: dread and despair.

The Nazgûl came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and his malice, were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circle above the City, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war; but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death.”

Also the Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr – “His name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it…”

Then there’s some many incredible characters (both good and bad):

  • As we all know, Denethor is not only a jerk, but creepy and Tolkien describes him perfectly as an “old patient spider.” It’s so fitting and I wish the movie would have shown why he was how he was at the end – because of one of the Seven Seeing Stones. As Gandalf explained: “The knowledge which he obtained was, doubtless, often of service to him; yet the vision of the great might of Mordor that was shown to him fed the despair of his heart until it overthrew his mind.”
  • Théoden charging into battle? Dang son!

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

  • Èowyn – she is such a strong character and the movie didn’t nearly do enough justice to her character.
  • Where do I even start with Gandalf?
  • Finally I have to talk about Samwise again. He always put Frodo above himself. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Sam and Frodo’s friendship reminds me of David and Jonathan. LOVE HIM.
    “In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped him most to hold firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere chat to betray him.”

Okay, now onto the changes. There were some I can understand, like the story behind going to the oath breakers. That would have added at least an hour. But others? Mmmhmm..

  • The Dú love
  • Again, Faramir deserved more respect: “He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he (Pippin) would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.”
  • Pippin and Merry. I forgot how different they were in the book. They weren’t just goofy, they were far braver before the final battle. I love Pippin’s thoughts when waiting for battle:
    “No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has yet returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.”
  • I liked how Aragorn met Èomer from the ship. Bonds of brotherhood! “And last of all Aragorn greeted Éomer of Rohan, and they embraced, and Aragorn said: ‘Between us there can be no word of giving or taking, nor of reward; for we are brethren.”
  • Where was the love for Beregond – another example of such loyalty (and saving Faramir)?
    “But think, you servants of the Lord, blind in your obedience, that but for the treason of Beregond Faramir, Captain of the White Tower, would now also be burned.” Gandalf
  • Oh and Aragorn and his epic healing powers? Dónde está?

I’ll stop now.

Sorry friends! I tried to keep it short!! So let’s end with some discussion questions – feel free to chat about any, all or add your own thoughts!

1. What did you think of “The Scouring of the Shire?”
I liked it. I thought it showed how much the Hobbits had grown and that even the Shire wasn’t safe from Sauron’s evil.

2. What’s something you wished the movie didn’t change?

3. Who are some of your favorite character(s) in this book?

4. What about some favorite quotes?
Obviously many, but I’ll add one more! I love the appreciation Hobbits have of food. I understand them. “Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of thin milk.”

Thanks for joining in!!

“Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.”


My (Current) Top 6 Books Written by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the final post of Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in – it’s been a lot of fun and I look forward to next year (which will actually be by International Inklings Day, May 11th)! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

Whenever I create any type of “favorites” list, I don’t include books written by Tolkien or Lewis. It wouldn’t be fair to the competition. But since it’s Inklings Week, I wanted to share my current favorites of the boys.

If you’re new to either Tolkien or Lewis, then this post is especially for you, but only because I get the honor of introducing you to some of the best books ever written. It’s a list of my favorites and ones I recommend to folks who are interested reading one of their books for the first time. (If I’ve read it for this blog, then it’s linked up, so you can hear me gush and discuss on those posts.)

Let’s start with Professor Tolkien. How can one adequately put into words just how amazing the creation of Middle Earth is? Before this turns into a gush fest, here’s my current top 3.

  • The Hobbit
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King (Stop by next Wed. for this discussion!)

C.S. Lewis is a bit more difficult. From Narnia to Mere Christianity, how’s a girl to choose? Well, I’m going with the following three. Ask me next month and the list will probably change, but no matter, because these are all excellent ones to start with.

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Great Divorce

I’m glad we can all agree that they were geniuses and I look forward to reading more from them!

What are some of your favorite works by Tolkien and/or Lewis?


Wormwood Words: How “The Screwtape Letters” Brought Me Back to C.S. Lewis

Welcome to Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

(Quick intro – I’m super excited to have Wesley from Library Educated guest post today! I hope you enjoy!)

When Jamie asked me to guest post for Inklings Week my first two thoughts were “Well of course I want in on Inklings Week!” and “I can talk about C.S. for hours, this will be the easiest post I write all year.” That last one turned out to not be true. After a couple of false starts I decided the best thing for me to share with you is what brought me to C.S. Lewis as a young lady and why I’ve stayed with him as an adult.

When I was a little girl I distinctly remember reading The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. I remember thinking that it was exciting and not too scary. I eventually read the whole Narnia series, though none of the memories are as clear as reading about Aslan for the first time. After finishing the series I walked away from C.S. Lewis’ work for a long time. I knew that he had written other books, but I didn’t think I’d be very interested. The way that people talked about Lewis, in these hallowed almost hushed tones; and the way people quoted him I figured that his non-fiction, theological books would be heavy, dense reads. (Which was a dumb assumption, but you know what happens when you assume…)

One bored summer during high school my mom suggested I pick up The Screwtape Letters. A conversation between demons sounded interesting enough but sometimes I don’t do well with books that are formatted as letters (a.k.a epistolary books), but I gave it a shot. For those who aren’t familiar with this work, I’ll give a quick summary (or you can check out my review of it here or Jamie’s Inklings group discussion of it here.)

Demons of hell who are “tempters” are each assigned a human target (referred to in the book as the Patient). Their goal is to keep their target away from knowledge of God’s salvation and forgiveness until he is firmly in their camp with The Father Below (Satan). Screwtape is the rookie tempter who is assigned the Patient, but he gets some “loving” guidance from his uncle Wormwood. Screwtape thinks he’s doing a better job than he is actually doing, and his uncle gets increasingly frustrated with his screw ups (he actually gets so angry he turns into a centipede, because, in hell those things happen). Luckily, despite Screwtape’s best efforts the Patient holds strong to his Christianity and at the time of his death is welcomed into heaven. We don’t know exactly what happens to Screwtape but we know it’s not good. Being too lippy is not good in any job, especially if your boss is the actual Devil.

Reading Screwtape Letters opened up C.S. Lewis for me beyond Narnia. All the assumptions that I had made about his works were wrong. Lewis is funny; in a dry, witty, British way. It pops out when you least expect it but it’s always a delight. Lewis makes things approachable; he talks about theology and big religious concepts in a way that you can understand, but also he doesn’t talk down to you. The thing that gives me the most joy and peace when I read Lewis’ work is the sense of not being alone. Sometimes when he writes about a struggle he has I see my own struggle. Although faith is a very individual thing a lot of the struggles and joys are universal, and there is something comforting about that to me. I think Screwtape Letters is a great introduction to Lewis’ other works, though I encourage you to read everything that he has to offer!

Thank you so much Wesley! What about you readers – what book introduced to Tolkien or Lewis (or another favorite author)?