Think of what five you would pick and then read it all.
The Screwtape Letters and The Four Loves would be in my top five. Mere Christianity, The Last Battle, and Pilgrim’s Regress would not.
Miracles, The Problem of Pain, Surprised by Joy, Til We Have Faces, Reflections on the Psalms, Letters to Malcolm, The Four Loves. (That’s 7, not 5, but that’s as narrow as I could get.)
OK, I know this wasn’t the question, but I would just suggest that those readers interested in Lewis’s The Problem of Pain try Austin Farrer’s Love Almighty and Ills Unlimited.
And a confession: I always immediately assume that people who appreciate Till We Have Faces are simply smarter than I am. That’s true of my friend the Christian philosopher Ed Henderson (LSU) and I think of Ralph Wood, too.
Well, FWIW, my top five would have to include [b]Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce[/b], and [b]Perelandra[/b]. Along with David Hein, I’d have to demote [b]Mere Christianity, The Last Battle[/b], and [b]Pilgrim’s Regress[/b] to a second tier. The thing is, with C. S. Lewis, there are just so many fantastic books that it’s hard to choose.
But I’ll offer this general comment. The thing I love most about Lewis and his books is not his incredibly lucid reasoning and compelling arguments as an apologist, but his sanctified imagination. That is, as wonderful as his amazing left brain was with its rigorous logic and brilliant deductive powers, what I find even more attractive was his fertile right brain, with that matchless imagination he had. Hence I prefer his fiction to his non-fiction.
But to me, C. S. Lewis is a superb and unsurpassed example of a principle I never tire of repeating in Christian circles whenever I get the chance. I like to put it this way: [b]God gave us both a right brain and a left brain. I think he expects us to use them both.[/b]
Anglicanism at its best does just that. And no one did it better than Lewis.
My first three were 1) Till We Have Faces — which I marvel has not been made into a magnificent movie, 2) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe — which opened the door to me of “naming the longing and the magic”, and 3) Mere Christianity, which has served its purpose over the past half century and more so very well.
It’s hard for me to choose my next favorites — there are so many, but they don’t stack into the “Big Three”. The Four Loves was a very helpful book for me early on, as a teenager. It helped me to define love far more precisely than the way it is defined these days by your average secular atheist and revisionist Episcopalian.
I would want to include The Screwtape Letters, Four Loves, Surprised by Joy, The Great Divorce, and Mere Christianity. But it’s hard to rule out so many of the others.
I’m happy to see that McGrath includes Pilgrim’s Regress. I agree that it can be a difficult book but the idea that God sends us pictures to awaken desire for the messenger has always spoken to me. Perelandra (a.k.a. Voyage to Venus) is another favourite as are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle. I also must include The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. That’s six but where do you stop?
I love Mere Christianity (the book that brought me back to the faith as a college student). For me that would be my #1 CS lewis book IMVHO then The Screwtape Letters, The 4 loves, A grief Observed, and Surprised by Joy. Never got into Lewis’ fiction and especially not sic-fi (Perelandra series).
In no particular order —
The Abolition of Man
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Great Divorce
God in the Dock
Till We Have Faces came close. As for the Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength) don’t quite make the list, either, although they each contain some stunning images. #4’s comments about Lewis’s “sanctified imagination” are spot on.
Not necessarily in order: The Discarded Image, The Abolition of Man, An Experiment in Criticism, That Hideous Strength, Mere Christianity.