Book: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Author: C.S. Lewis
Favorite Line: “What’s that? Yes, of course you’ll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia.”
Honorable Mention: “Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”
This seems like the perfect first book for my blog. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first chapter book I ever recall reading on my own, and boy did it ever shape my future. If you only could have told six-year-old me what an impact this book would have on my life, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Yet, it did.
For one, I began an obsession with England. I’m pretty sure I was convinced that if I could visit London, I’d find Narnia.
In second grade, we had to pick a country and do a presentation on it. We were even supposed to wear clothes and serve food from that country. No contest, I picked England. I wore a flower-print dress and served “tea and crumpets.” Well…sort of. My poor mother didn’t know what a crumpet was, and these were the days before Google, so it was actually tea and sugar cookies. However, we had this silver tea service in the family that I got to polish up and use, so I felt very, very British.
And every day after school, I wanted afternoon tea. But we lived down South, so it was sweet tea and cookies. Or Kool-Aid and cookies. Whatever we had around the house. (I later discovered Early Grey and English Breakfast, as well as loose leaf tea and tea kettles. Crisis averted.)
In third grade, we learned about the American Revolution, and I had a crisis of conscience. Whose side was I supposed to be on? I was American, but I loved England. For third grade me, it was a real moral dilemma.
When I finally visited England in 2009, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I also tried as many doors as I could, but sadly, none of them opened the portal to Narnia. Of course, as the book says, it’s no use trying to get there at all…sigh…
This book has left an everlasting imprint on my life, sparking my early obsession with England which, of course, led to my love of British literature, which allowed me to have an amazing experience studying abroad and, eventually, teaching British literature. But more importantly, this book introduced me to the world of C.S. Lewis, who is one of my very favorite authors. People who know me well tease that I can’t get through a social media post without a Lewis quote. This is certainly not the last time you will see his name on this blog. And Lewis, of course, led me to Tolkien and Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers and oh so many other incredible authors.
So, in a way, I did find that door to other worlds. And there are so many worlds left to explore…But this is why we read, isn’t it? As Lewis himself said (in An Experiment in Criticism), “But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”