Inklings

Closing out Inklings Week 2019 with International Inklings Day

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

So what exactly is International Inklings Day? It celebrates these two genius and the beginning of their friendship. On May 11th, 1926, Tolkien and 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. I thought to close out the week, I’d re-post the story of their friendship, since it’s been a while. I hope you enjoy! (Originally posted on May 11, 2016)

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

“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?

Don’t forget: Last chance to enter! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

My Year with the Inklings | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is the fabulous Katherine Reay! Her books are some of my favorites and I highly recommend them. Her upcoming, The Printed Letter Bookshop is one of my favorites this year!

Before we begin, I have a confession —it’s been a one note Inkling year. I can stretch it to two, as I rewatched The Lord of the Rings movies this year, but my focus has been primarily on C.S. Lewis.

My Writing

It all started with a single line…

The present is the point at which time touches eternity.

He states this in his deceptively simple book The Screwtape Letters. I say “deceptively simple” because it is just as much that as it is a “diabolical satire.” I am always entertained at every line and think I understand — until I look deeper, and then I’m blown away.

First of all, it’s a pithy statement. It caught my attention on that level alone. Then I found its life altering truth: The past is behind us. We cannot change it and to live there, linger there, dream of returning there, keeps us from living in the present. We don’t have to carry it as far as Miss Havisham sitting amidst the decayed ruins of her wedding banquet in Great Expectations to get my point — the past can be a dangerous place to dwell.

What about the future? I took the line and parsed that direction as well. Lewis doesn’t mean not to plan for the future, after all, “The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.” (Again, The Screwtape Letters) But to live in the future — again, danger. We can’t assume we have one and to dream that all will be roses and buttercups there only detracts us from the business of living here.

So what about the present? Now that was an idea — What would learning to live well in the present look like? And there you have it… Three women, a bookshop, a trial or two, a few mistakes, a few wrong turns and The Printed Letter Bookshop.

The Printed Letter Bookshop releases next week and I am so excited about this story, but this one line’s power over my year doesn’t end here…

As soon as I finished writing The Printed Letter Bookshop, my first nonfiction manuscript sold and this very line consumed me again. Awful Beautiful Life is Becky Powell’s story regarding an eighteen month period in her life. And this idea — living in the present — took on particular poignancy. You can read a little about the story below, but bottom line: Becky could not look back — the past held no answers and could drown her in a quagmire endless questions and anger, and she could not depend upon a future — the prospect of criminal charges and serving time in jail was real. Becky had to live in the present and take each day as God gave it to her — and I had to figure out how to write that reality and bring her story to life on the page.

Awful Beautiful Life releases December 3, 2019. As I said, it has been a Lewis year!

And it doesn’t end there…

My Reading

I have had a wonderful time reading this year. As you can surmise from my writing, I spent a great deal of time in The Screwtape Letters. But, when looking back, I realized I spent more time reading about Lewis this year than reading his works. Here are a few to add to your TBR pile:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis — This wonderful book takes a close look at Joy Davidman and her marriage to Lewis. It gives beautiful insight into Lewis, his love for his wife and the literature they created together. I have always loved Till We Have Faces and now find the story makes more sense, in both content and style, as I understand Joy’s influence on its writing and editing. And what a fun book this is— what a wonderful love story they had!!!

How to Live Like A Narnian — This little guide walks one primarily through The Chronicles of Narnia and give hints on how to live one’s best life. It’s a short book and an absolute delight. Prior to this, I never realized the joy and wonder of King Lune from The Horse and His Boy. Pay attention when next you read The Horse and His Boy. He’s not a “throw away” character at all, but a true model of joy, duty, wisdom and affection. Again, Lewis is deceptively simple — he says so much in such a small character.

Planet Narnia  — Wow!  But I must warn you… You get more from this book once you’ve read all the Narnia books plus Lewis’s space trilogy — primarily That Hideous Strength. Once you’ve done that, pick this up and marvel in Lewis’s genius. The author, Michael Ward, has done his research and presents an incredibly convincing case for the binding thought and connection, the very meta-theme, running beneath all Narnia. It’s an extraordinary read.

The Horse and His Boy — This is the only Narnian story I returned to this year. While The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds my favorite scene, this book holds my favorite line:

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

Again — deceptively simple. After I chew on that one sentence for a while, it sure makes it hard to assume I know anything about another’s story or make judgements at all. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share my year with one Inkling with you today. This next year I plan to expand  into the Inklings a little more. I recently bought The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings and can’t wait to dig in.

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS , “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Also, here’s more about Katherine’s books. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.


A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world
shattered hours after her husband’s suicide.

Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 13, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, “I’ve done something terrible.” Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark’s $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time.

Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca’s friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can’t find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope?

AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca’s journey through the two years surrounding Mark’s death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.

Inklings

A Review of the TOLKIEN Movie: The Power of Story, Fellowship, and Love

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

As you may have heard, TOLKIEN comes out this Friday. Last night, across 400 theaters, there was an early screening through Fathom Events, followed by a live simulcast with Nicholas Hoult (he plays Tollers), Lily Collins (she plays Edith), Dome Karukoski (Director), and hosted by fellow fan Stephen Colbert. It was a great event!

I really enjoyed the film. I think it was Colbert (or possibly Hoult) who said in the simulcast, that it was a story of “friendship, love, and loss.” Between the early years of Tolkien’s life, his schooling, and his time spent in WWI, especially The Battle of the Somme, this movie seeks to show how these experiences shaped the man who would write such beloved novels.

While Tolkien had often said that Lord of the Rings wasn’t an allegory to his war time experience, I thought this movie beautifully showed how the emotions of losing his parents at a young age (thus becoming an orphan) and fighting in horrific trench warfare still greatly impacted his life. (Although, fun fact sidenote: Tolkien did use his experience from The Somme for some of his works, including the Dead Marshes in The Two Towers). I can’t help but believe his writing the hope he created in them, were healing for him in some ways.

Even Karukoski, who after watching this one interview, clearly loves Tolkien deeply, shared that in his hard years as a young child, Tolkien’s “stories became friends.” I don’t think Tollers could have imagined the impact and hope his mythology would give millions, years after they were published.

His early friendships with Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman and Geoffrey Bache Smith portrayed the deep impact and meaning friendships have on each of us. It’s a reminder that we each need our own fellowship. It’s a beautiful part of life. Also, even having read about it before the movie, I still chuckle at the name they gave themselves: TCSB (Tea Club and Barrovian Society).

I also loved how the movie gave us a peek into the relationship between Tolkien and Edith. I’ve always loved the strong women in Middle Earth and knowing Edith played such a role made me enjoy it all the more.

Finally, I absolutely loved hearing Karukoski and Colbert share what Tolkien’s meant to them (both encountered him in early teen years and, as they both said, saved them) and geek out about his stories and characters. Books will always come to you at the exact moment you need them.


Can we hang out Stephen Colbert?!

While I wasn’t surprised there was some artistic license (and yes, there are pieces I wish they would have explored more), I do believe this will draw more people into Tolkien’s story and give a deeper appreciation to Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings.

I’ll close with a quote from Colbert on why Tolkien’s stories matter: “The power of story, it can give us hope.”

Inklings

A Day in the Life of a Hobbit | Guest Post by Wesley Hoffman

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is my friend Wesley from Library Educated! Enjoy!

Even though the hobbits drive me a little crazy in the works of Tolkien (everyone just keep your hands to yourself! Don’t start a fire when you’re trying to be sneaky! Stop drinking too much and telling people things, THE RING’S DISAPPEARING ACT IS NOT A TRICK YOU SHOW PEOPLE AT THE PUB).

Good gravy, no joke Elf Lord.

However, life in the Shire sounds preeeetttty good. The hobbits and I are alike in a lot of ways, just wanting the finer things like: eating, drinking good beer, and hanging out with friends until the wee hours.

Which got me thinking: “Man, with all the eating and drinking and friend time, how do you get anything else done?” If it was me it would be a lot of sticky notes, reminders in my phone, and an alarm or two. But honestly, something tells me that the hobbits don’t live and die by their bullet journals and efficiency apps – but if they did I feel like it would like this.

6:45am: Slap the alarm off of the nightstand and wander into the kitchen scratching and belching. Almost slept through breakfast. That was a close one.

7:00am: Breakfast – chow down on leftovers from last night’s supper. Ugggghhh it’s going to be a busy one, should probably get a move on it. Wander out to the garden to pull some weeds and do some gathering of whatever looks ripe and delicious. But gosh, doesn’t that sun feel great on your hairy hobbit toes and your (somehow) hairless face? Maybe we just stretch out on the grass just for a quick nap……….snoooooooree….

8:30am: Wake with a start as a caterpillar sneaks across your forehead. By Gandalf’s beard, did you almost sleep through another meal? We need to get our priorities straight…and maybe plant some Valerian Root or something. Wander into the house with your hastily gathered veggies and throw them in a basket. You’ve got to trade those later on in this incredibly busy day but since it’s right around 9:00am you better get on with Second Breakfast because you’re not as young as you used to be and you have to keep that stamina up.

Yeah, what about it?

10:00am: After eating Second Breakfast over the sink because you realize you haven’t washed dishes in a few days you decide you can probably put some in the sink to soak (look at you, adulting so hard) and will wash them later. Right now you have to see your distant cousin who lives at the other side of Bag’s End about making a trade for your home grown goodness in exchange for HIS home brewed goodness. It’s kind of a hike so you should probably get to getting.

11:15am: Um, okay, how did that walk take longer since the last time you walked it? And now you’re hot and sweaty and cranky and your carrots look droopy and just.so.thirsty. Luckily your cousin has a chair in the shade waiting for you to sample some of his fine ale and have a little snicker snack for Elevensies. Even if it’s closer to like ElevensiesTwenty when you’re done. After several samples and a snack you know you should talk business but that breeze sure feels nice and you already here your cousin’s thunderous snores and decide, yeah, let’s take a nap and wheel and deal when we are firing on all cylinders. You eventually get shaken awake for an early lunch, and then after some hard negotiating find yourself tottering home with a small cask of ale underneath each arm. Which is good news because you’re having a couple of people over for dinner that night – it’s not going to be an all night bender but you have a reputation to uphold and you don’t want to run out of ale.

3:00pm: You are a beast! Those dishes in the sink are cleaned, you swept, you made sure there was clean ash trays for everyone’s pipe ash, the casks are chilling like villains in the root cellar, you have stew simmering in the fireplace, your crudite platters are on point and you have never felt more entitled to a nice long tea.

5:59pm: Hobbits never on time unless there is free booze and food involved. #FACT #Dont@me. Dinner is off and running!

Things get……fuzzy after here…..you’re assuming there was supper at about 9:00pm, and it’s not just because literally every dish in your cozy kitchen is dirty AGAIN, it’s also because there is no food left in your house. Dinner must have somehow turned into that all night bender it wasn’t supposed to because not only are those casks empty they are dry as the eyes of Sauron. You find some sad looking radishes under an over turned bucket and decide that will serve for breakfast tomorrow, because what would you actually cook that early. As you swerve to your cozy hobbit bed you think….

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

A Collection of Randomness to Kick Off Inklings Week 2019

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

C.S. Lewis penned these words in his essay, “An Experiment in Criticism.” Isn’t that one of the key reasons humanity is drawn to literature? We, for those moments we are reading the book, are transcending ourselves.

As you know, for myself, Tolkien and Lewis’ stories do just this. That’s why I love Inklings Week and the opportunity to celebrate them. To kick off Inklings Week, I thought I’d share a few fun finds about Tolkien and Lewis. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Also, we’ll have a giveaway throughout the week, so be sure to check it out!

Lewis was a spy. I repeat Lewis was a spy.

(Full story here)

Found in the archives: Tollers reading from The Hobbit.

How I wish there were audio versions with them reading their books! (You can hear it by clicking here or by clicking on the image below)

And here’s Jack reading from The Four Loves.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have him as a Professor?

Finally, they both new how to party.

I found this thread on Twitter (via @SketchesbyBoze) and it’s time I finished this biography, because I’m missing out on some gems!

From Humphrey Carpenter’s Tolkien biography

Thanks for joining the start of Inklings Week 2019!

Now it’s giveaway time! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

Next Week is Inklings Week!

GUESS WHAT?! Inklings Week is BACK!!

I’m so excited for next week and so sad that I had to miss last year (life sometimes…). We’ll kick things off next Monday (5/6), but any chance to talk about it beforehand, I’m in!

Also, I would like to thank Hollywood for joining the Inklings Week celebration with the release of TOLKIEN on May 10th. I’m glad you recognize the importance of this week :). (If you haven’t seen a preview, check it out here).

We’ll have daily posts here on the blog, but also have some fun on Facebook, so be sure to follow along and sign up for the event here.

Also, I’d like to introduce two of the contributors for next week. Inklings Week is always more fun with friends!

Wesley is the reader behind Library Educated. When she isn’t corralling the neuroscientists at work she is – reading, snuggling her dog, planning her next trip and getting experimental with her secondhand bread machine.

Wesley is not always good at articulating just why she loves the Inklings. Is it because no one writes a great wizard or a lonely bear man like Tolkien? Is it because C.S. Lewis’ words have spoken directly to her soul in more situations than she can count? Is it because it sounds awesome to sit at the pub with your friends and talk about the awesome books that you or reading or writing? All very good possibilities.

Katherine Reay is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels, including Dear Mr. Knightley and the upcoming The Printed Letter Bookshop. She has enjoyed a lifelong affair with books — and with everything C.S. Lewis wrote — and brings that love to her contemporary stories. Her first full-length nonfiction work will release in December 2019. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University. She currently writes full time and lives outside Chicago, IL with her husband and three children. You can meet Katherine at http://www.katherinereay.com or on Facebook: KatherineReayBooks, Twitter: @katherine_reay and Instagram: @katherinereay.

I’m a fan of writers getting together and sharing life — and this is just about the most famous group there is. The name, the meeting place, and the stories surrounding the Inkings also create this hazy image of a smokey room, a pint of beer, and some the of best and liveliest conversation to be had — by some of the most interesting men — and an occasional woman — anywhere. We primarily think of Lewis and Tolkien when pondering the Inklings, but it was a very diverse group — academics, children’s writers, historian, biographers, poets… And I love that fact that despite this diversity of thought and all their erudite credentials, they loved fantasy. They loved that fiction held a unique place in all writing and that by inviting readers into new worlds, they could change ours.

I’m so excited to have both Wesley and Katherine join us next week! Be sure to pass it along to friends who might enjoy!

Inklings

Happy Birthday Jack!

On a chilly day in 1898, Clive Staples Lewis entered the world in Belfast, Ireland. I actually have no clue if it was chilly or not, it could have been the warmest day in Ireland’s history. But no matter, I’m thankful this man was born.

Because I can’t possibly imagine my life without Aslan, The Great Divorce, Mere Christianity, and of course Wormwood. His works changed me personally. There’s not many authors I can wholeheartedly say that about. Of course there are so many other of his books that shaped my life, but I’m sure y’all don’t have time for that :). I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a collection of favorite articles about Jack!

First up – Who wants to go to Belfast?
C.S. Lewis’ life celebrated in new Belfast space
Clearly, I need to book a trip soon.

The Reason I love C.S. Lewis by Katherine Reay
I had to include some of my guest post writers from Inklings Week. This one was fabulous!

The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis by Peter Wehner
Because why not include this one?

Followers of Jesus aren’t doing a very good job of living faithfully in a broken world, perhaps because we’re looking inward instead of upward. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in,’ ” Lewis reminded us. “Aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Made for Another World: Remembering C.S. Lewis by David Mathis
This article seriously took all the words out of my mouth (at one point Mathis writes “For a growing number of us, Lewis occupies a class to himself.” #yes). Here’s a couple quotes:

What catches the eye about Lewis’s star in the constellation of Christian thinkers and writers is his utter commitment to the life of the mind and the life of the heart. He both thinks and feels with the best. Lewis insisted that rigorous thought and deep affections were not at odds, but mutually supportive. And as impressive as he was in arguing for it, he was even more convincing in his demonstration.

Such is the heart of his genius, his spiritual genius. So few treat the world in all its detail and contour like he does, and yet so few tirelessly point us beyond this world, with all its concreteness and color and taste, with the aggression and ardor of C.S. Lewis.

Wormwood Words: How “The Screwtape Letters” Brought Me Back to C.S. Lewis by Wesley From Library Educated
Another awesome throwback from the first Inklings week in 2015!

9 Things You Should Know About C. S. Lewis by Joe Carter
In case you want a quick intro of fun facts.

C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent by Harry Lee Poe
As a bonus, I’ve included this one because it was my favorite Lewis fact I learned last year.

Bookish Radness

My Top 8 All-Time Favorite Fiction Reads

Do I dare even tackle such a list? Now before you think there’s really only eight favorites on my list, I just have to say this is me we’re chatting about! But here’s a start of some novels that have held a place in my heart for at least 10 years. You know it’s solid if it’s remained on the list for at least a decade.

Mark of the Lion Series | Francine Rivers: If you ask me for a book recommendation, this will always be the first series I recommend. Looking for a biography of the 13th President? Read Mark of the Lion. Oh, you want a story about London society after 1912? I think the story of Marcus and Hadassah is just what you need. Just kidding, I’d give you a legit recommendation, but I don’t think I can put into words how amazing this series is. If I ever meet Francine Rivers, I’m just going to hug and thank her for this book. I’ve probably read it 10 times and I only see that number increasing through the years.

Just know it’s a three book series. I did not know this and when the first book ended, I texted my friend who recommended it asking why she would think to suggest a book that just RIPPED OUT MY SOUL. Yep, my reaction was equivalent to all caps plus a bag of chips and toss in some fireworks.

I own a hard copy and the kindle version so I can read it at anytime. I also read it two weeks after I read it for the first time because it’s just that amazing. If I could only have one series the rest of my life, this would be it. (I need to confess, I only read this about 5 years ago, but I’ve read it 10+ times, so I still added it to the list.)

Dracula | Bram Stoker: Vampires? Wha? Let’s just clear things up by saying it is nothing like modern day vampire shenanigans. No, this is a classic that so fantastically demonstrates battling such evil. I’m reminded that in the fight against evil, you will battle dark forces, you will lose people, you will want to quit, but you won’t. The world will be a better place because you didn’t. I haven’t read this one in a few years, but man, what a book! My e-reader friends, it’s free, so no excuses!

Redeeming Love | Francine Rivers: That sneaky, sneaky Rivers lady. Without knowing how it happens, after reading her stories, you’re forever connected to the characters she creates and wish you could meet these people in real life. Redeeming Love was also the first Christian Fiction book I read back when I was in college. I remember my friend Lindsay, from one of my Comm classes during my freshman year (folks, I never remember details, so the fact that I remember the class, the friend and the year should tell you something ;), gave me her copy to borrow and I had the chance to read it over Thanksgiving and I devoured that sucker in about two minutes flat.

Please, read this book if you haven’t yet (which I need to point out that every monthly top seller list Lifeway releases, Redeeming Love is on it. I jest not. And it’s nearly 25 years old. In May, Francine Rivers not only had her latest (which was fantastic, see my review here), but Redeeming Love as well. P.S. IT HAS IT’S OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. Need I say more?

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam | Huynh Quang Nhuong: This is one of the first books I vividly remember reading. I read through it so many times, I’ve lost count. Since growing up in Vietnam was so vastly different from growing up in my parent’s house in Orange County, California, I was so fascinated by this man’s life. Every time I read this book I wanted to do one thing: Go on an epic adventure. If my mom ever asks why I’m always fixin to do something crazy, it’s because I grew up on stories like these. It was also my Mama who gave it to me 🙂

Fire By Night | Lynn Austin: Sigh….just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it. I think I might too. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered Dr. McGrath and Julia, so I think this summer I might change that. Not only do I love Julia’s character (and connect with her), I adore Dr. McGrath. The whole series is enjoyable, but this one shines far greater than the other two. Plus it’s Civil War (and still my favorite Civil War fiction novel), so win with that.

The Giver | Lois Lowry: I’ve talked about this one the blog enough, so I’ll keep it short. Without pain, one would never know the true depth of happiness, beauty and love. Lowry so beautifully captures this. Plus it’s coming out in the movies soon!!

The Harry Potter Series | J.K. Rowling: Duh.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee: This was one of those books I actually liked in high school and understood at the age of 16 why it was such an important piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, it’s an amazing story and Atticus Finch is one of the all-time greatest heroes in literature.

You might be wondering about the books I talk about every 27 seconds and why they aren’t on this list. Well, I figured it was a given that anything Narnia/Lewis or Middle Earth/Tolkien related are in their own category of greatest all-time anything. I mean, I have a monthly series about them internet, so of course they are my favorite of favorites. (If you want to join in The Inklings series, check it out here)

Alright, there’s the fiction list! I feel I can breathe a little easier now ;). What do you think? What are some of your favorites to add?

Ponderings

Why it’s Better to Admit the Nerdy Things in Life

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a nerd. And not just because I read a lot (although, increasing your knowledge isn’t nerdy people…it’s brilliant :). It’s because lots of the things I like and do are well, a bit nerdy. I admit I wasn’t always secure enough to freely admit this, but good thing you grow up and become much more wiser right?

Here’s the thing: in the age of the Internet there’s lots of people who portray a persona of someone they’re not. Trying to look “cool” for a world of strangers. It’s bad enough for our kids to fear being who they really are, but if they look to adults for guidance, they sometimes don’t see a difference. I vote no to that.

You do the world a disservice ignoring this because you’re uniquely you. No one else is. We’re wired certain ways for an amazing and incredible purpose only we can fulfill. That’s why I’ve learned to embrace exactly the way I was made.

So this month’s post is where I gladly admit things about me I know are totally nerdy/quirky/only I do, but still me!

1. I memorized the Gettysburg Address for chuckles because it’s one of my favorite American speeches. It’s so beautiful and profound (if you ask me to recite it in person, I might get stage fright and mess it up though). I also have it hanging on my wall.

2. I may have watched Denzel Washington’s Academy Award acceptance speeches on Youtube recently. And teared up.

3. I only eat Vanilla ice cream. It’s not that I don’t like the other ones. I just don’t mess with the best. Hate away ;).

4. I watch Disney classic cartoons on a regular basis. And still cry. I mean have you seen the part when Mufasa dies?? Good golly, I’m a bawlin mess every time.

5. I have ordered the same exact thing at Del Taco my entire life. I kinda wish I was joking, but alas, I am not. It’s the original #3: Bean and cheese burrito with red sauce, fries and a root beer. If I feel like “mixing” things up, I’ll get a Cherry Coke.

6. I buy costumes for my cat. This past Halloween he was a dinosaur. As you can tell from this picture, he was thrilled.

7. Speaking of my cat, I considered creating his own Instagram account. This still might happen people.

8. If someone offered a class to learn elvish, I’d be all over that in 2.8 seconds flat.

9. I recently needed to write a bio for myself and this is what happened: “She wishes she could go to Hogwarts, live in Narnia and hopes one day Gandalf will show up at her door and invite her on an adventure. She also could never part with Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Giver by Lois Lowry or Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.” P.S. If you’re wondering what it’s for, check out this awesome new board I’m on here!

Well Internet, there’s a few to kick things off. Hope you enjoyed them! Now, it’s your turn! Please join in and share what makes you – you! I’d love to hear it!