I thought I would try to go back and just jot down what I read with a few notes and try to get the big picture.
The Inklings (Humphrey Carpenter) – Magnificent book.
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (Also by Humphrey Carpenter) – Also good, but Inklings was so good, I must confess it was a bit of a disappointment. Dryer with less insights.
I had already read a lot of Lewis growing up. In fact, I’m missing only a few titles. To this I added:
Till We Have Faces – Highly recommended by several friends. Made more sense after I had some of it explained to me. Good story. Liked the heroine. Dream-sequence ending was rather annoying.
Surprised by Joy – Very good. Don’t let the cheesy title deceive you. Lewis’s explanation of how he came to faith in Christ via finding beauty in art and literature resonates well.
That Hideous Strength – Read this as a kid. Much better this time round.
Have already read the Hobbit and LOTR several times through, so I skipped the major stuff.
On Fairy Stories – This essay is packed with good stuff. Worth reading twice.
The Lost Road (2 chapters) – The fragment of a present day –> middle earth time-travel story. No good.
The Greater Trumps – A novel involving Tarot cards and magic. Starts out pretty good but gets really bogged down at the end.
The Decent of the Dove – A rather quirky survey of church history, dealing mostly with events before the reformation. Rather spotty, but with some good stuff.
Taliesin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars – William’s Arthurian poetry cycle. It’s not very long but he apparently agonized over it for years. Bits of it are pretty good but most of it is completely incomprehensible without C.S. Lewis’s accompanying page-by-page explanation. Only worth looking at if you are really into Arthur.
Poetic Diction – The real meat is in the first few chapters. Marvelous stuff. Hard to read though. Barfield assumes you can read Latin, Greek, French, German, and Hebrew. No translations given.
And going back in time a bit to some of the people most frequently cited by the Inklings
The Princess and the Goblin – A good fairy tale. Read it to my daughter. I had read it once as a child, but I had forgotten most of it. The goblins are worth noting because Tolkien based his goblins largely on MacDonald’s.
Life Essential: The Hope of the Gospel – A collection of sermons. A couple really good ones in here. MacDonald is interesting as he was a Calvinist minister who got kicked out of his church when could no longer bring himself to believe in Limited Atonement. He’s a graceful guy.
Listened to some hilarious audio books at libravox. Short essays mostly.
Orthodoxy – Read for the 3rd time. No doubt. It’s a classic.
And… if the Inklings had accepted women into their club, the only Oxford lady who might have qualified would have been…
The Mind of the Maker – Most of this was realy, really good. Read it along with Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories.
Several essays from a collection “The Whimsical Christian”. She was a sharp cookie.
That’s about it. Time to take a break.