What made bestselling author C. S. Lewis such a great writer with so many admirers? One answer to that question is Lewis’ vast reading across the entire canon of Western literature, from Homer and the Bible to some lesser-known works of the early twentieth century. Before one can become a great writer, one must be a great reader.
In 1962, an interviewer asked Lewis: “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” In response, Lewis offered the following top ten list:
- Phantastes by George MacDonald
- The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton
- The Aeneid by Virgil
- The Temple by George Herbert
- The Prelude by William Wordsworth
- The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
- The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
- Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell
- Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
- Theism and Humanism by A.J. Balfour
Based on his books, marginal notes, and personal letters, Lewis’ reading of these books is thoroughly documented. In addition, Will Vaus offers a brief biography of each author with a helpful summary of their book. Lewis’ Top Ten goes to the sources of the ideas and ideals reflected in Lewis’ own books. With this handy three-volume series, readers can discover new authors and learn what Lewis believed was most important in his own life and writings.
Volume One discusses the first three books: Phantastes, The Everlasting Man, and The Aeneid
Volume Two discusses the second three books: The Temple, The Prelude, and The Idea of the Holy
Volume Three discusses the last four books: The Consolation of Philosophy, Life of Samuel Johnson, Descent into Hell, Theism and Humanism
Advance Praise for Lewis' Top Ten
"A great help in understanding C.S. Lewis is to understand the books that were most influential in shaping his thought. Will Vaus has undertaken the task of examining those books which Lewis himself said were the top ten. His work is thorough, comprehensive, and illuminating."
Rolland Hein, Emeritus Professor of English, Wheaton College, Author of George MacDonald: Victorian Mythmaker
"Many studies of C.S. Lewis are being published and this book will certainly be among those of real importance to readers of Lewis."
Aidan Mackey, Senior fellow of the G.K. Chesterton Institute and Library in Oxford
"Will Vaus has done us a great service in this clear and comprehensive survey of the great books that helped to form C. S. Lewis’ mind and can also inform ours. I found his work on Virgil, on George Herbert, and on Wordsworth particularly helpful. This book is not just for C. S. Lewis enthusiasts but for anyone who would like to broaden and deepen their reading."
Malcolm Guite, Chaplain, Girton College, Cambridge University
"Will Vaus’s C. S. Lewis’ Top Ten: Influential Books and Authors, Vol.II is a penetrating study of how George Herbert’s The Temple, William Wordsworth’s The Prelude, and Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy were among the ten books that did the most to shape Lewis’ vocational attitude and philosophy of life. Vaus writes with ease and helps readers understand the background of each work, especially when he looks closely at the specific ways Lewis may have been influenced by each in his own writing. Readers will find their appreciation of Lewis deepened and advanced by Vaus’ insights and commentary."
Don King, Professor of English, Montreat College
"Do you like C. S. Lewis? Then it makes sense to read what he wrote. But if you really want to know Lewis and really understand what made him tick, don’t neglect to read what he read. Will Vaus has done us all a great service in showing why these books are important and more: he makes them accessible to us all.
Diana Pavlac Glyer, author of Bandersnatch and The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community
"This third volume of Will Vaus's thorough examination of C.S. Lewis's top ten book list is a superb conclusion to his multi-volume study. Every serious student of Lewis's writing should read this book."
Lyle W. Dorsett, PhD, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School