Saturday, November 25, 2017

"The Screwtape Letters" by C. S. Lewis

I've wanted to read this book since the year 2000.  One of my roommates my sophomore year of college read it for a class and said she laughed all the way through it, and it was just so witty and brilliant, and she insisted I would love it.

And it's taken me seventeen years to finally read it.  Partly because I didn't have a copy for a long time, and kept forgetting to get it from the library, and partly because I was pretty worried it was not going to live up to the hype she bestowed on it.  I even bought a copy last year, and then just... didn't read it.

Sometimes, I'm so lame.

But now, I've read it!  And wowwowwow.  Witty?  Yes.  Brilliant?  Yes.  Funny?  Not so much.

I mean, I can see how it could be funny, but it wasn't funny to me.

In fact, it was downright terrifying in spots.

Why?  Because I saw so much of myself in this book.  Complacent, distracted, and not very invested in my faith?  Yeah, that is me just FAR too often.  This was a very convicting book for me, and made me take a long look at how habitual my faith can become.  Which is great, because it made me examine my prayer life, my Bible-reading habits, and my investment in my vocations and see so many places where I am not doing what I should to thank and praise, serve and obey my Savior.

Which is not to say that it didn't make me laugh, because it did make me laugh a couple of times.  But it made me think much more than laugh, which I was not expecting, but which I appreciate so much.

In other words... this was way better than I had hoped.

If you've never read it, the whole book is letters from a demon named Screwtape to his nephew, a demon named Wormwood who is trying to prevent a human from remaining a Christian, but instead to win his soul for Satan.  Fascinating concept that's executed so masterfully.

Particularly Good Bits:

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out (p. 16).

The duty of planning the morrow's work is today's duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present (p. 77).

If we neglect our duty, men will be not only contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas (p. 136).

A woman means by Unselfishness chiefly taking trouble for others; a man means not giving trouble to others (p. 142).

It is not fatigue simply as such that produces... anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired (p. 166).

(I underlined a LOT more than these, but they give you a taste, anyway.  Fantastic book!)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for non-explicit discussions of human sexuality.

This is my 12th book read and reviewed for my second stint at The Classics Club, and my 11th for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017.


  1. This is one of my favorite books (along with Lewis' "The Great Divorce"). Radio Theatre (from Focus on the Family) also has a TERRIFIC audio version of it, with Andy Serkis as Screwtape, that will stand the hair up on the back of your neck.

    1. Charity, I can see why it would be. But oh my giddy aunt, Andy Serkis as Screwtape? That must be perfect in the most eek-inducing way possible.

  2. Okay, you've made me want to read yet ANOTHER BOOK!!!! (I guess that's one of the reasons I love your blog, besides that you're my daughter, huh?) The last time I read it was when you were pretty little, so quite a long time ago... And I remember being convicted by it, too. Pretty much all law, which we all need a good dose of as Christians to keep us going on the "straight and narrow". Just so we don't forget Lewis's other great character, Aslan the lion, who embodies the Gospel of Christ, who died for our sins.
    So I'm off to dust off your dad's copy of Screwtape for a second reading in January.

    1. Mom, hee! Sorry -- I do feel your pain, as my TBR list just keeps on growing thanks to the blogs I read.

      It's definitely heavy on the law, but with glimmers of gospel here and there to make us happy we're not demons.

      Hope you enjoy your second reading! If you can even find Dad's copy -- I kind of looked for it a while back and didn't see it anyplace, so it must be somewhere kind of out-of-the-way.

  3. This has been on my TBR for the longest time, too! Enjoyed hearing your thoughts...maybe I will pick this one up soon. :)

    1. Marian, glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you find time to read this for yourself soon!

  4. I absolutely loved this book when I read it in high school. I also found it convicting and witty. I've been meaning to read it again. Parts of Mere Christianity are also quite thought-provoking, if you're looking for another Lewis read.

    1. RM, I think it's definitely one that should be re-read, like once every ten years or something. I haven't read Mere Christianity yet either, but it's on my list ;-)

  5. Though I was one of those people who found parts of this book very funny (maybe witty or some other word would be a better description, though) I know exactly what you mean about its convicting content. I've only read it once, and that was a few years ago, but I was amazed by how much it made me aware of my own sins and areas of weakness. C.S. Lewis is just so brilliant. I'm really glad you loved it! I need to re-read it someday, soon. :)

    1. Natalie, yeah, it was definitely witty and clever and entertaining... but not funny to me. But I can see how it would strike some people that way!


What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome! Posts older than 7 days are on moderation to dissuade spambots, so if your comment doesn't show up right away, don't worry -- it will once I approve it.

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)