Before we go any further, take a look at the overview, which explains the title:
"Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography describing Lewis' conversion to Christianity. The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than typical autobiographies. This is because his purpose in writing wasn't primarily historical. His aim was to identify & describe the events surrounding his accidental discovery of & consequent search for the phenomenon he labelled "Joy". This word was the best translation he could make of the German idea of Sehnsucht, longing. That isn't to say the book is devoid of information about his life. He recounts his early years with a measure of amusement sometimes mixed with pain.
However, while he does describe his life, the principal theme of the book is Joy, as he defined it. This Joy was a longing so intense for something so good & so high up it couldn't be explained with words. He's struck with "stabs of joy" throughout life. He finally finds what it's for at the end. He writes about his experiences at Malvern College in 1913, aged 15. Though he described the school as "a very furnace of impure loves" he defended the practice as being "the only chink left thru which something spontaneous & uncalculating could creep in." The book's last two chapters cover the end of his search as he moves from atheism to theism & then from theism to Christianity. He ultimately discovers the true nature & purpose of Joy & its place in his own life. "
“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”
Just think about that one for a minute.
“While friendship has been by far the chief source of my happiness, acquaintance or general society has always meant little to me, and I cannot quite understand why a man should wish to know more people than he can make real friends of.”
“Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears.”
No one ever said he didn't have a way of getting to the point.
“I could never have gone far in any science because on the path of every science the lion Mathematics lies in wait for you.”
Here are just a few things I learned about C. S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy that you might be interested in:
-He had a certain condition as a child where he couldn't move either of his thumbs. Because of this, he wasn't able to do many things normal children do, such as using scissors, painting, building with blocks, etc. It's this condition that drove him to read.
-One of his favorite authors as a child (and adult) was George MacDonald. He was one of the very few Christian authors he read. He realized early on that there was something in MacDonald's writing that all the other books were missing... Ultimately, this author played a large part in his conversion. You can find a few of his books here. My favorite of which is Phantastes. I also believe it was one of C. S. Lewis's favorites. He talks about this one specifically in his book.
-Growing up, Lewis was blessed with an extremely active and creative mind. He and his brother invented worlds and continents and drew pictures of mythical creatures as well as wrote stories of them. He looked back onto these for inspiration for Narnia.
Genre: Autobiography, Biography, Christian, Religion, Non- Fiction, Theology, Memoir
Rating(1-5): 5 stars
Content (1-10): 8
Age Level: 15+ (mentions of sinful behavior by the other boys at school, and mentions of certain temptations)
You can buy it here on ebay for $9. (affiliate link) Happy reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below!