The Jesus Storybook Bible, How to Read Mere Christianity, & a Booking It Update

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Are you Booking It this year? Yesterday we started a great discussion on the bread baking book, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Join in the discussion and check out the beautiful boules that I made. It was so exciting to pull those out of the oven!

Today we’re going to talk about all the books we’ve read over the last month. You did read something of substance, right? Magazine articles and blog posts are great, but a book is a different kind of reading experience. While it takes more effort, I think reading whole books is definitely a worthy pursuit.

That said, I must confess that I didn’t do as much book reading as I had hoped or planned. Does it count that I’m writing my own book?

Anyway, I did do some reading. Promise.

Reading with the kids

The bigger boys, aged 8 through 13, and I are continuing to read The Story of the World together, about a chapter a week, as well as work our way through The Bible, about ten minutes per day.

My littles and I are really enjoying The Jesus Storybook Bible. A friend had recommended it and then I read Andrew Peterson’s review of it, so I spent some Swagbucks on it to see what all the hubbub was about. It’s a really sweet retelling of the Bible, emphasizing Jesus’ presence throughout HIStory.

The pictures are engaging for little ones and the storytelling is well done. It explains things in a conversational way that kids — of all ages — get. My older boys often stop what they’re doing to listen. Always a good thing.

You can watch a video of it here:

Reading for me

Today I share with you a monumental accomplishment.

I remember very clearly having picked up the book, Mere Christianity, from the university library. It was old and dusty, probably an original edition that no one at my liberal arts college had read in 20 years. I took it with me to the UCen to wait for a friend. I cracked the book open and tried to pick my way through the dry introduction, circa 1960 or earlier. My friend, arriving late, said it was one of her favorite books. I was surprised, to say the least. Mere Christianity returned to the college library, unread.

Seventeen years later, I got past the first page — and finished it, too! And I’m so glad I gave it another go.

Not just to say that I did, in fact, read it, but because, for the most part, I enjoyed the ride. And it only took two months.

Well, seventeen years and two months.

How to Read Mere Christianity

Here are some things I learned about how to read Mere Christianity:

1. Mere Christianity is addressed to non-Christians. Sure, Christians can learn from it. But this book, based on CS Lewis’ post-WWII radio talks, is meant to explain the basics of Christianity to someone who doesn’t know them. And granted, some professing Christians probably don’t know them, either. Lewis, a former atheist, does a great job in breaking down the basics in a way for the churched and the unchurched alike to grasp.

2. I think the title is wrong. I don’t have a replacement. But, I think people probably don’t pick up this book because they don’t know what it’s about. And unless they’re “religiously minded,” they might not pick this book up. And I totally understand a non-Christian saying, NO, but I think this book unpacks exactly what you’re saying, NO, to.

3. Don’t be intimidated by its reputation. Since I didn’t really know what this book was about, I always treated it as a lofty tome, something that anyone with a theological mind would read. I think it took me so long to read this because I was intimidated by it. And yet, if you’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia, you know you should feel intimidated by Lewis.

4. Don’t treat it like you’re researching a term paper. Once I got over the intimidation factor, I really enjoyed the book. But, I found that I wanted to swallow and digest every little bit of it. There’s rich, rich stuff in here. But, if you take five minutes to chew every bite of a gourmet meal, well, you lose your enjoyment of it as a whole. I stopped fretting and just decided I could read it at a regular pace and that was so freeing. Overall, the guy is quite funny and little bit cheeky at times. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, nor should we.

5. There may be some things you don’t get and that’s okay. Be prepared for “anglicisms,” words that we don’t often use in the US, as well as WW2 references that were common to Lewis’ original audience. Plus, there are spiritual ideas that are just hard to grasp, and that’s okay. We can’t “get” it all.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It had its rough spots, but I enjoyed quite a lot of it, was challenged on a number of points, particularly living out The Golden Rule, and it sparked good conversation with FishPapa, resident theologian, who, of course, read this book, long ago.

What have YOU been reading?

Share your latest reads with us! Link up your Booking It post or just tell us about it in the comments.

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  1. We enjoy the Jesus Storybook around our home, too, so much so that we have to hide it sometimes. (Does that make us bad parents?) My older daughter would like for us to start at the beginning and read through the whole book, and we just don’t have the two or three hours that would take.

    Mere Christianity is one of those books that I keep meaning to read, but I just haven’t gotten around to. I know that I should, though; C.S. Lewis has some amazing books that are well worth reading and rereading.

  2. The Jesus Storybook Bible is our favorite gift for new parents! It was recommended by a professor to his students when we were visiting seminaries, and we have purchased so many copies since then (but never one for ourselves–we need to remedy that!).

  3. I’m so glad to hear your hesitation over Mere Christianity. I’ve been feeling the same way, but think I’ll take your advice!

  4. I just bought a book called “Priceless” by Tom Davis. I think most people have a charity/cause/world concern that strikes close to the heart whether it be orphaned/impoverished children, AIDS and other major diseases or animal protection. I found mine when I went on a mission trip to Thailand last year. Though this was not the true purpose of our trip, one of the things we were exposed to was the booming business that the sex trade is there (and other places in the world). Seeing the so-called “closed clubs” with massive doors locked with a chain and padlock just broke my heart.

    “Priceless” is a fictional story that centers around one of the world’s most henious crimes. Though I have only just started this book, I have a feeling its impact will reside in me for a long time to come.

  5. I love the Jesus Storybook Bible…I read through it with my daughter a few months ago, but I think it’s time we bust it out again!

  6. My mom loves to give away the Jesus Storybook Bible in her baby gifts, so I know that’s a good one! 🙂

    As for Mere Christianity, I read it in high school and I’m sure if I read it now I would get even more out of it. I’m not a fan of books-on-tape because I find that my mind wanders, however, we have “The Four Loves” on CD and read BY C.S. Lewis and I could listen to that over and over again. If you ever get the chance to listen to it, it is so worth it and so great to hear it read by Lewis. I learn something new every time I listen to it.

    I’ve been doing some easy reading this month – all mysteries, but it’s nice to be able to find time to read anything. Also, my quiet time has become a priority, so as always, learning a ton from Scripture! Thanks for hosting – see you next month! Blessings!

  7. I tried reading Mere Christianity a few years ago and couldn’t finish it. I need to read it. I just finished reading “Choosing to see” by Mary Beth Chapman. It was really good. I would recommend it to anyone. Great inspiration. I’ve also read some christian amish fiction books and I have “The Happiness Project” that I am about to start. I’ve really enjoyed seeing what everyone is reading.

  8. I read two books this time! “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and “One Second After”. 🙂

    “Mere Christianity” is still sitting on my shelf. I have read a few pages of it, but I need to finish it. Thanks for the tips on reading it!

  9. We don’t have The Jesus Storybook Bible yet, but I’ve looked at it. Thanks for the review–it might show up in my girls’ Easter basket. I’ve never made it through Mere Christianity, but we own it, so I may tackle it someday.

    I wasn’t crazy about my selection this time around. Sadly, I only got through one book this time since we had a move thrown in too. I’m hoping to do more reading in April (I’ve got three books waiting to be read!). I love seeing what everyone else is reading. This is lots of fun!

  10. Hello! I am relatively new to your blog – just commented on your mexican rice and pinto beans post. 🙂 I am not sure if I can post my “what I’m reading” post if I’m not officially participating in your Booking It program…so feel free to delete if you need to. 🙂 I did link up to you!!

    I LOVE the Jesus Storybook Bible! I recommend that to everyone now!

  11. Thanks so much for your tips about Mere Christianity! Just today I returned a copy to the library…unread. I really want to read it, but like you, I’ve been intimidated. I’m looking forward to giving it another try with your suggestions in mind.

  12. thanks for your tips about mere christianity. i have my grandma’s 1960-something copy sitting unread in the bookshelf. i’ve picked it up before and haven’t made it far, now i’ll have to try again. thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  13. I read alot of books, this month, I did not read as much non-fiction as sometimes, other than the Mayo Eye book, and the whole series of Games for Learning……
    “sigh” But there are some really great fiction books out there!

  14. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible! We got the one with the audio (with swagbucks) as a christmas present for our 2 yr old. We read every night. It does a really good job of explaining the
    “big picture”.

  15. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible! We got the one with the audio (with swagbucks) as a christmas present for our 2 yr old. We read every night. It does a really good job of explaining the
    “big picture”.

  16. Yay I bought that for my daughter for Easter who was begging for her own bible. Can’t wait to read it to her.

  17. I read Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenrider and The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview. Loved and recommend both books.

  18. I’ve started Mere Christianity a few times, but now you’ve inspired me to go back and try it again. Thanks! I think I was plagued by #3 and #4: intimidating and treating it like a term paper. You nailed it with those. Right now, I’m reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and The Girls’ Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business – very interesting to read them at the same time. Different messages, but both good. I plan a blog post about them both once I’m done!

  19. Mere Christianity- what a great book. :o) I’m glad you gave it a second chance – you’re right, there is some rich, rich stuff in there. I need to revisit it myself – it was one of the first books on Christian apologetics that I ever read, and it has certainly helped shape who I am as a believer today. Thanks for the link party! I’m enjoying seeing what everyone is reading. 🙂

  20. Love the Jesus Storybook Bible. It makes me cry sometimes because it just gets right to the heart of the stories.
    I included my link above for the many books I read or attempted to read this past month. Mostly homeschool info since I’ll be beginning that in the spring! Very excited!

  21. I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner). Wow, what an eye-opening book. Sometimes second books are not as good as the first, but this one was. Makes me really appreciate living in the US.

  22. I read Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, Dragons of the Valley, and The Divvies Bakery Cookbook (allergen free cookbook). For my review you can check out my website. 🙂

  23. I had to laugh, because my 16 yr old daughter is currently reading both Mere Christianity and How Shall We Then Live (Francis Schaeffer)!!
    I told her that if she starts walking around in a daze, I will at least know why. LOL!

  24. Love the Jesus Storybook Bible too. There are few kid Bibles as good! Even speaks to me!

    I’ve been reading “Speaking Truth in Love” by David Powlison, “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. Also just finishing “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.

  25. Thanks for the tips on MC, Jessica. My 14 y/o dd is about to start it for her worldviews class and your input will be very helpful!
    I’m reading the Hannah Swensen murder/recipe series! I know, a far, far, FAR cry from MC, but I just need some mindless entertainment and I SO love reading the recipes at the end of each chapter!!