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4.00006601095782 out of 54.00006601095782 out of 54.00006601095782 out of 54.00006601095782 out of 54.00006601095782 out of 5 4.00 (15,149 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: C. S. Lewis Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2009 ISBN: 9781455176496
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In the closest thing we have to an autobiography, C. S. Lewis, an unfailingly honest and perceptive observer of self, here shares the story of his personal spiritual journey. With characteristic candor and insight, he describes how his “search for joy” led him from the conventional Christianity of his childhood to a youthful atheism, and finally back to an assured Christianity compatible with his formidable intellect. With no pretense, Lewis describes his early schooldays, his experiences in the trenches during World War I, and his undergraduate life at Oxford, where he reasoned his way to God. Lewis’ “surprise” holds continuing interest not only for admirers of his work but for any modern seeker concerned with the compatibility of the rational and the spiritual.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Fascinating.”

    Nation

  • “He is admirably equipped to write spiritual autobiography for the plain man, for his outstanding gift is clarity. You can take it at two levels, as straight autobiography, or as a kind of spiritual thriller, a detective’s probing of clue and motive that led up to his return to the Christianity he had lost in childhood.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Anyone approaching this book as a study in the psychology of conversion will find the greatest interest in the dual paths—intellectual and intuitive—which converged at last. But the casual reader looking merely for an enjoyable book will equally value many other parts.”

    Saturday Review

  • “Since St. Augustine’s meticulous analysis of what was the light, what the color, what the sound, the smell, the touch, what, indeed, was the good he loved when he loved God, few writers have taken the trouble to distinguish, with such clarity of psychological insight, the nature and the degree of attraction, the nature and the degree of satisfaction, apprehended by man.”

    Commonweal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia | 12/9/2016

    " What an awesome book to listen too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul Dinger | 2/11/2014

    " I am a fan of C. S. Lewis, not just his theological works but also his criticism and fiction. I didn't like this book. I found the thoughts in it confusing and the theology hard to follow. Especially his conversion experience which may be one of the driest things Lewis has ever written. I think he had written, in a sense, this book his entire life. So much so that when time came to write it, well he didn't have much left to say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nate | 2/9/2014

    " The book fails as an autobiography, which is just as well since it was never intended to fulfill such a role. When read for what it truly is, Surprised by Joy makes for a highly entertaining (and, more often than not, thought-provoking) read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steffi Greeff | 2/7/2014

    " I prefer the last 5 chapters to the beginning of the book: it took a bit long to get to the point. But the last few chapters were really good and well written. This book differs from his other books (like Mere Christianity, The problem of pain, etc) in the sense that it is not written as systematically - Lewis tends to trail off from the point of discussion quite often; it's like he just wrote down everything he thought of. Some of the quote are for example in Latin, Greek or German, and he does not even bother to translate. That, to me, made the book quite interesting and different from most other books (that tend to explain itself in a systematic way)that I've read. Loved all the references to books and authors - his passion for literature is contagious! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ancience | 1/20/2014

    " "I gave in, and admitted that God was God ... perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsey Jane | 1/20/2014

    " I need to reread this; it was a bit dense for me and covered so many thoughts and ideas that I couldn't give them all adequate consideration. I'm excited to read more C.S. Lewis, though, as he has a different way of approaching religion/Christianity than others I've known or read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meagan | 1/16/2014

    " I've never heard anyone attempt to describe the experience Lewis calls "Joy" in this book, but it was very familiar to me. It is something like the desire you have for an image or an idea...not so much to actually possess the thing, but just to revel in how much you enjoy that image. Maybe nostalgia for a childhood vacation spot would be the easiest to relate to...but not quite it. For me, it's a big part of the enjoyment of reading fantasy stories like Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia. I would guess some people might be put off by Lewis' sort of pompous, old fashioned writing style in this book, but I really liked it because of how much I could relate to some of the experiences of his inner-life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric Lowdersomething | 1/4/2014

    " Another good read for those investingating Christian Faith from an intellectual point of view. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jr | 1/4/2014

    " By far, my least favorite Lewis book. It seemed to just drag on and on. Lewis' meandering style, a quality I appreciated in other books, does him no favors here. I found myself walking away from the book without a great sense of relating to the man or his faith journey. The last 20 or so pages were pretty good, but other than that, I had to force my way through this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Timo | 12/12/2013

    " Fascinating memoir. Absolutely goofy argument for Christian doctrine. Compare with the "vestryman" chapter in James Branch Cabell's CREAM OF THE JEST. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tolivar Wills | 6/19/2013

    " A very unique picture of one man's journey to faith in Christianity. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eric | 4/14/2013

    " Nice autobiography. Not as much a spiritual journey as I would have thought, but it had some great insights (even when it went over my head). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharman Wilson | 2/11/2013

    " About to reread this for my book group choice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison | 6/21/2012

    " Very interesting. More or less it's about C.S. Lewis' young life and losing his faith and finding it again. I found parts to be fascinating and other parts were just too highbrow for me to really grasp. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacob Meiser | 4/26/2012

    " Incredibly insightful into the thoughts that lead Lewis to find the ultimate source of Joy. Very introspective approach that is helpful for understanding why Lewis wrote the way he did while giving words to any soul longing for something greater than and outside of itself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 12/18/2011

    " C. S. Lewis was a horndog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 M. Barr | 11/2/2011

    " A beautiful description of the inexplicable joy of connecting to God. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sam | 11/1/2011

    " I started this book in Puerto Rico and finished it in Kentucky. It's a very interesting book. I am still a little confused by his concept of joy, but found it an enjoyable read. I think the book would best be read as a discussional book with others, maybe a group, but especially one other person. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather P | 9/4/2011

    " currently in the middle of this one. i love c.s.lewis "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Billy Barefeet | 8/23/2011

    " An honest testimony of one man's journey to faith in the one true God. A man with an extraordinary gift for communicating! Thank you C.S. Lewis for your candor I look forward to meeting you.C.S. Lewis "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shayla Melson | 6/23/2011

    " Everything he writes is difficult for me but does allow me to stretch a little bit to the next level. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bethany | 6/15/2011

    " EXCELLENT. C.S. Lewis looks retrospectively on his childhood and sees how God lead him to Him and to an intellectual career that made a major impact on the world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew | 5/22/2011

    " Without a doubt, one of my favorites. A desert island read. I've read this book every year for four years and my affection for it continues to grow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 5/15/2011

    " Match together 'Surprised by Joy', 'The Problem of Pain', 'A Grief Observed', and 'The Great Divorce' to gain a balanced view on the philosophy of good and evil, happiness and pain, why each happens, and how we deal with both. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keith | 5/11/2011

    " Excellent read! If you are a Lewis fan this is a must... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 5/10/2011

    " A fascinating look at the early life of a fascinating person told in his own words. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marie | 5/1/2011

    " I find it difficult to read Lewis because he is such a scholar and refers to books, authors, mythology that he assumes his readers are familiar with. However, having said that, it's good exercise for my brain and sometimes I even research something he refers to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charles | 4/22/2011

    " It's really a shame that C.S. Lewis wrote anything besides nonfiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 4/15/2011

    " Read my last year of college. And I keep coming back to it to read my underlined passages. Some of the best Lewis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karly | 3/24/2011

    " An engaging, entertaining, and spiritually enlightening story of the impact of God in everyday life, and the journey to finally accepting him.
    "

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About the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day. He was a fellow and tutor in English literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. His major contributions to literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim. Lewis wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include the Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent PlanetThe Four LovesThe Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. In 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.