Do you have your summer reading list put together? We certainly encourage you to read Lewis in whatever format you choose. But you might also want to read a book that was in Lewis’s library–a book that influenced him.
“Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books,” Lewis says by way of advice. “But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old…The new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light.”
So, consider the authors in his library. They included Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, Augustine, Jane Austen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Geoffrey Chaucer, G.K. Chesterton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Samuel Johnson, Thomas à Kempis, George MacDonald, John Milton, William Morris, Blaise Pascal, Sir Walter Scott, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Aquinas, and William Wordsworth. You can also see a much longer list that Avil Beckford compiled here.
We found two lists of books that Lewis brought to the forefront through interviews. The first is from a 1962 article in The Christian Century, where he was asked what books influenced his philosophy of life:
1. “Phantastes” by George MacDonald
2. “The Everlasting Man” by G. K. Chesterton.
3. “The Aeneid” by Virgil
4. “The Temple” by George Herbert
5. “The Prelude” by William Wordsworth
6. “The Idea of the Holy” by Rudolf Otto
7. “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius
8. “Life of Samuel Johnson” by James Boswell
9. “Descent into Hell” by Charles Williams
10. “Theism and Humanism” by Arthur James Balfour
The second was an interview with an writer from Decision Magazine who asked what books influenced his faith and writing.
1. “The Everlasting Man” by G. K. Chesterton
2. “Symbolism and Belief” by Edwyn Bevan
3. “The Idea of the Holy” by Rudolf Otto
4. The plays of Dorothy Sayers
Whatever you read, may it help you, “come further up [and] come further in”.