The Narnian

I wrote in a previous post on how my wife and I had made a renewed pact to start devouring books from our local library during which I also mentioned my intention of reading a biography of renowned fantasy/sci-fi and Christian apologetic writer, C.S. Lewis. The book, The Narnian: The life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, is written by Alan Jacobs a professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois, and paints a fascinating picture of a man whom I have always respected and enjoyed his fiction. It is not often that I pick up a biography and admittedly I digested this one rather slowly, but I almost had no choice as Jacobs pulled me into Lewis’ world in a way I had never known.

Jacobs doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to “Jack’s” life. You can certainly tell that the author is enamored by his subject, but he does a good job of balancing his praise of Lewis with the realities that plague many of us in this life. Lewis faced a great deal of hardship in his life, as we all do, but to read of his conversion from atheist to Christian and how he was able to rapidly develop prose using parchment and an inkwell pin (he never learned to type) when he had done nothing but struggle with his true love of writing poetry was nothing short of fascinating for me. I found myself empathizing with Lewis’ life as I felt so much of it mirrored parts of my own. My hopes to be a writer and be recognized for it, loving and loathing teaching at the same time, and balancing a life that we are not always prepared for.

The biography has re-inspired in me a desire to read and reread many of Lewis’ work as well as write more of my own. I highly recommend the book to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of his work.

 

Shakespeare: The Biography

In an attempt to rev up my personal reading, my wife and I have decided to start using our local public library on at least a bimonthly basis and start expanding our reading repertoire. I’m a big fan of owning books, but that gets down right expensive and really limits what one might read otherwise. We started this little journey yesterday.

I grabbed three books: Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd, The Narnian by Alan Jacobs (a biography on C.S. Lewis), and First Meetings by Orson Scott Card.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the quickest of readers. I actually appreciate this fact about myself as I feel it makes me more in-tune to my students who despise reading in part due to their inability to read a page quickly. My wife, on the other hand, can devour a book in day two leaving no morsel of a word behind. All that being said, I picked those three to read in three weeks and my wife chose five.

I’m starting, as the title of this post suggests, with Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: The Biography. I’ve always wanted to read a full biography about the man who over time has won me over as an avid fan and believer in his unquestionable reign as the greatest English writer of all time. In college, I took a Shakepeare course where we read several plays and analyzed them; we even read a book focused on the design of his staging and how plays translated to his audience, but never have I read more about the man than besides a few pages of curtailed information on the man. I’m only partially into reading the book, but already I’m fascinated by his lineage and childhood. Ackroyd tries very early on to convince the reader that those who detract from Shakespeare being the true author of his plays are foolish to believe such as their is just too much evidence to the contrary. There are times already I find myself thinking that Ackroyd is reaching with a few of his conclusions, but admittedly there are more than enough clear facts to support Shakespeare’s education and his clear familial connection with his own plays.

I’ll give an update once I’ve finished the book, but in the meantime trust me when I say it really is a fascinating read.

Here’s for reading more books this year!