The theme of June reading was, in a word, Narnia. This month, I read through all seven of the Narnia books, except The Magicians Nephew, which I finished in May. It was actually a great reading choice for a couple of reasons, mainly: 1) These books are awesome 2) These books are deeper than I remembered and 3) These books are on the short side. We’ve still been doing a lot of work on our house the last couple of weeks, so having short, easy to finish books was a great idea for this month.
As far as my reviews for this month go, they’re going to be a little bit shorter and more vague, mostly because I don’t want to give away the plots of the books. If you haven’t read them, you should, and I surely don’t want to spoil them for you. I’ll mostly just talk about my favorite characters, how much I like each book, maybe a major theological point I pulled out of each one.
This is the most well-known book in the Narnia series and was also the first one that Lewis released. Because of this, it really sets the stage in some ways (even though The Magician’s Nephew is the first book chronologically. Lucy is by far my favorite character in this book (besides maybe Aslan himself). I’m also a huge fan of the beaver family.
I think the most powerful theological lesson is this book is that of grace. The way that the character that betrays them all is welcomed back and even embraced is an incredible illustration of how God’s grace works. It’s also a great example of how we are supposed to show grace to others.
When I was younger, I really didn’t like this book all that much. That’s mostly because I felt it was a distraction from the “main” story of Narnia. I think I actually skipped it at least once when I re-read through the series. It’s a really great story though, and it might now be one of my favorite books.
The thing I love about it is the powerful way that it shows that God work in our lives. Things that we think are bad or scary are often the same things that God is using to bring us a great relationship or to move us in a new direction that’s going to be awesome. God is always there beside us, making the way for us. We often just don’t know it.
Completely unrelated, this book also has one of my favorite lines ever. At the end of the book, when Lewis is telling you what happened years later to all the characters he shares this about two of them, “[the two characters] had many quarrels … but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.” Ha!
In some ways, I think I like this book’s plot the most. It’s a little more involved than some of the others. There’s intrigue and a couple of unexpected plot twists. I think the biggest lesson of this book is that God will never be defeated. Things might look bleak, but God is always at work.
Another interesting lesson from the book (that’s more towards the end) is that just because your history as a nation, people, or family might not be all that great, you’re not forever condemned by your history. God can use people with shady pasts.
This one is interesting. It’s almost like a collection of short stories that are all tied together. This book chronicles the journey and the discovery of several different lands. Almost every land has its own adventure and teaches a different lesson.
My favorite characters in this one are definitely Eustace, although he has a terrible name, and Reepicheep. Reepicheep is actually one of my all-time favorite Narnian characters. He first appears in Prince Caspian, but he plays a bigger role in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
This one is probably my least favorite, though it’s still good. It’s just a lot darker than the other books. The characters in this book make a ton of really bad choices. It stresses me out because I’m a perfectionist. The lesson of it is that God can use us and come through for us even if we mess everything up. He can even use our mistakes to accomplish his purposes.
Puddleglum alone is worth reading the book for. He’s another awesome character and he’s only in this book. He’s just hilarious and yet also somehow wise. I read this book aloud with some friends in college and one of them did a fantastic Puddleglum voice, and now it’s her voice I hear when I read the book, which just makes it better for me.
If you’re looking for a new way of thinking about heaven, The Last Battle (and maybe Heaven by Randy Alcorn) is a great book to read. It honestly gets me every time. Growing up in church, I think I’ve always had a pretty stuffy view of what heaven is going to be like. Reading this book as a kid made me think about heaven in a new way. I always tear up a bit in the last couple of pages. Lewis just paints such a beautiful picture of what heaven is like.
Theologically, this book might be the most profound. There are just so many things that Lewis writes in this book that I missed as a kid, but that I think are profoundly helpful as an adult. You should definitely check it out for yourself.
How about you? What are your favorite Narnia books or Narnian characters? What books did you read in June or are you planning to read in July? I’m always looking for more book suggestions, so feel free to share below in the comments.