The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition by C.S. Lewis

The first read of the year for me was technically a reread, but this was my first time reading the annotated edition of an old love, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In another of his works, Lewis wrote, “The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers, ‘I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work. Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty, or thirty times during the course of their life.” Based on that, I still have a few more reads of this work in my future.

The Screwtape Letters was first published as a serial in a weekly magazine in 1941. Lewis imagined a series of letters from Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew Wormwood. Wormwood has been assigned his first human patient to secure, and his uncle gives him lessons about effective temptation and human nature. Lewis uses Screwtape’s perspective to share interesting insights about what really makes humans tick. Wit and satire make the letters enjoyable to read while presenting a serious analysis of our relationships to God, Satan, and each other.

Although references to “The War” clearly mean World War II, Lewis used no dated examples, and descriptions of “The War” could apply to any war. Wars and vices like envy, vanity, greed, and lust will always exist, so the situations the patient faces are much the same ones that humans face today. In this way, the letters can speak to people of all ages from all walks of life. The fact that the patient is never named lends to that feeling.

An annotated edition of The Screwtape Letters was released in 2013 on the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death with annotations written by Paul McCusker, director of the Focus on the Family Radio Theater dramatization of The Screwtape Letters with Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy) as Screwtape. As far as I know, this is the only book by C.S. Lewis to have been released with annotations, and I hope it’s not the last. The notes do not attempt to interpret Lewis’s words or add commentary based on Lewis’s biography. These annotations are explanations of literary references and World War II English phrases and pointers to other writings by Lewis on selected topics.

Although I read a lot of ebooks, I would encourage anyone interested in this work to go with the hardcover edition. I’ve yet to see any annotated ebooks that work as well as a physical copy, and this particular hardcover is a beautiful addition to your bookshelf. inside view of the hardcover edition of The Screwtape Letters: Annotated EditionEach page of the book has two columns of text, with the original text in black in a large font and the annotations in red. This layout is easy to read whether you’re a casual reader or someone who picked this up for a deeper study.

"All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. This is elementary." - C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape LettersI appreciate Lewis’s insights into spiritual matters and the human heart, and every time I read anything by him, I walk away thinking that he talks about temptation in a way that resonates with me. He wrote of the deepest things from a Christian point of view and explained them in a way that works into my soul. During this reading of the book, I was reminded of several quotes that had been sitting in my brain without sources. I created a few small images to better commit them to my memory, and I thought I’d share one here that I’m currently using as the lock screen on my phone.

The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition by C.S. Lewis

I’ve pledged to read 150 books again this year with the Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge. I’m already 1 book behind, so that’s lovely. The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition by C.S. Lewis will most likely will my first completed book as it’s the book I’ve started reading. I sometimes have multiple books going at once, but I still think that will be the first I finish this year.

I’ve never really done much with New Year’s resolutions, but I do have a few book-related goals this year that I’ll share and track here.

  • I want to make more conscious reading choices rather than just reading whatever pops up next on my Kindle and plowing through all the free books. Related to this, I want to stop hoarding books I really want to read like I’m saving them for some special occasion. I should actually read them instead of just anticipating the read! (I’m looking at you 2014 Kristen Ashley releases!) Also, I want to read some of the hardcovers and paperbacks on my shelves instead of defaulting to my Kindle because it’s handy.
  • As part of those conscious choices, I’d like to read at least one non-fiction book each month. I don’t care if it’s a celebrity memoir or a political economics book.
  • It would be nice to get more use out of my huge collection of cookbooks, so I’ll highlight one of them each month and select 2 recipes to try during that month.
  • I’m committing to weekly posts here at my shiny new blog. Some weeks may have more than one new post, but I think once a week is a good goal as a start.

I’ve promised myself that I will come back to blogging in 2015, so this is a quick early start. Books were my first love, so it’s fitting that I finally dedicate a blog to the books that send me out of this world.

In this first post, I’ll share some data from Goodreads about the books I read in 2014. I read 176 books, and I gave most of those books 3 stars. Only 1 book got 1 star, and I had 5 5-star reads.

My 5-star reads in 2014:

  • Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell
  • Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix
  • Yes to Everything by Shayne McClendon
  • Unrestrained by Joey W. Hill
  • Old Loyalty, New Love by Mary Calmes

Most Read Authors in 2014:

AUTHOR # OF BOOKS READ
Mary Calmes 4
Kristen Ashley 3
Lynette Bernard 3
Terri Anne Browning 3
Evan Grace 3
J.S. Scott 3

I’m surprised that I didn’t read more than 4 books from any one author this year. It seems like I read books from more authors this year than in past years and did fewer author binges. I believe 2012 was my year of the author binge with Kristen Ashley and Diana Palmer leading the pack.