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on 22 April 2017
I have read it before and as a practising Christian I found it very undestandable. It is an honest collection of thoughts and debate. I bought it to give to a friend to read who as a practicing Atheist He was finding in his later years that he coul not get rid of the feeling that there was a God, feelings he had not had through his teen age years, his marriage and latter retirement from his carreer as a judge. I thought the book would compliment his thinking.
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on 28 March 2017
Challenging read because of the giant intellect of the author but I am so glad I persevered to the end
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on 16 November 2017
[happy] if I was not I would tell you.
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on 21 July 2001
I have already read most of C.S.Lewis' works, but I'd intentionally put-off reading 'Surprised by Joy'. I'd felt it more interesting to learn Christian Wisdom from what he wrote after his conversion, than to concern myself with how he became converted. However, I finally gave in; and it is a thoroughly good read, unusually humorous in some places: his memories of his eccentric father and also of a wartime troop-train had me laughing out- loud. Another C.S.Lewis triumph.
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on 13 October 2000
I have loved this book for the better part of thirty years - - and not simply because it is the autobiography of one of my favorite authors. I would revere this book if it was the only work by C. S. Lewis that had ever been published.
Lewis himself said that the best part of many long novels, such as Dickens's, is the beginning - - the childhood years. As an autobiographer Lewis excels here, too, with his account of his imaginative formation in a big old Belfast house and as a junior member of a family that included some eccentrics indeed. We read on to an account of his school-days miseries that rivals George Orwell's notorious essay "'Such, Such Were the Joys'." (One of Lewis's masters was institutionalized as insane within a year or so of Lewis's leaving the school.) Later, we read of his wartime experiences. (He did not have to serve in World War I, by the way, as Irish-born.)
Are you a Tolkien fan? You'll enjoy Lewis's account of his wary meeting with a "Papist" philologist.
The account of his conversion is, of course, a classic, one that people may, I believe, be reading for decades, even centuries, to come; many people have found it useful in understanding their own spiritual experiences.
The book is generous, poetic, and fresh.
Dale Nelson English Department Mayville State University, USA
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on 26 January 2001
Before I saw this book on a shelf in a library, I knew that C.S. Lewis married a woman named Joy. When I saw the title, I thought the book must have been about how he and Joy met each other and that since he was an older man when he married, he was "surprised by Joy." Funny thought, but not the case. This is C.S. Lewis' spiritual autobiography. He describes his early years, his internal yearnings, his hunger for he-knew-not-what. A more honest book, you would be hard pressed to find. I give it the highest rating possible and recommend it to all. Also recommended: Castle of Wisdom by Rhett Ellis-- a Christian book that is... well, different.
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on 24 April 2017
Excellent book
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on 20 October 2016
I might not have been surprised by joy as I read this book - it was far to factually autobiographical for me, and not what I expected - but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed parts of it. Both Lewis's description of his childhood education (and the hotbed of homo-eroticism that private boys-only schools were) was brilliant and non-judgemental and his glossed-over, but no less harrowing, account of his experience in WW1, provided an intriguing glimpse into a byone era.

Perhaps this was my biggest problem with the book - I expected a deeply inspiring, imaginative and very personal account of his spiritual awakening. Instead, this book is mainly autbiographical with a few paragraphs here and there covering his spiritual journey. Emotion was thin on the ground - intellectual scholarship was densely packed into each sentence. Thanks to my long ago classical studies I could wade through the allusions without getting too lost, but still ... I wanted to be inspired, to feel what Lewis felt as he journeyed back to his God.

Instead, it took me nearly two weeks to struggle through it becasue as a rule, I don't read autobiographies. Ultimately, this was more biographical than it was spiritual and thus SURPRISED BY JOY didn't meet my expectations as a reader.
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on 10 August 2009
I read this book before any of Lewis' other non-fiction works (with the execption of 'Screwtape letters') to find out something about the man.
It was interesting, to say the least, but is not an 'autobiography' in the sense that some may understand.

Surprised by Joy is more a chronicle of Lewis' life journey, the influnences of his parents and events in childhood, and his schooling on his personality and perspective. Lewis is deep, philosophical and analytical throughout, because of this the book can be rather tedious and difficult. If you are not familiar with Classical Mythology, or Dialetic much of it will go over your head, as it did for me.

Despite that, it is worth a read, to discover something about Lewis' character, if nothing else, and provide a background to some of this other works.
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on 6 March 2017
I love the Narnia books and the Cosmic Trilogy but I found this a difficult read. He was addressing someone much brighter and we'll read than me. I wish I had understood more.
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