I fall in love too easily.
Not with people (Ha! That’s a lie—with people too), but things, interests, places, concepts, personalities…basically I have an abundance of enthusiasm. It’s not indiscriminate—I can only get enthusiastic about what my heart and brain together decide to focus on, and I can’t fake it. But when they pick something, I go all out.
I don’t know how other people discover new interests and favorite things, but for me, one love often leads to another. That happened this weekend.
Things generally went to sh*t over the course of the weekend, but the one shining, sparkling moment involved a longtime love, a more-recent passion, and a new darling.
The longtime love is books and reading. (I found out that I need to take myself out of the house to really enjoy a book—there are too many distractions and too much Internet at home.)
The more-recent passion is C.S. Lewis. When I was about 8, my dad bought me a nice boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia (because as intensely frugal as my dad is, he skimps on neither books nor Christmas). I loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but found Prince Caspian boring, and lost interest in the rest. I kept the books, but went no further in the series until college. Even then, I did not finish it, nor did I read anything else by Lewis. (This may be difficult to believe for those of you who went to the same college I did; Lewis is nigh inescapable there.) Then, because my heart, my brain, and the stars aligned correctly, within the last two years, I not only finished all of the Narnia series, but re-read it. I can safely say that I have never cried over a book as much as I cried over The Last Battle (and I have cried over my fair share of books). Around Halloween last year, I knew at least two people who recently read The Screwtape Letters, so I decided to pick it up.
And that was the snowflake that started an avalanche. The book was fascinating, entertaining, amusing, and heartrendingly convicting. As someone who often prefers villains to heroes, I loved the diabolic perspective, as terrifying as it was, and I appreciate dry wit no matter the source. I had always “gotten something out of” the Narnia books, and even as a child had some appreciation in the back of my mind for Lewis’ particular style. Reading Screwtape Letters, however, was the moment I fully connected with Lewis and his writing really “spoke” to me. (And, of course, it has been the inspiration of two posts on this blog so far.) I used a Barnes & Noble giftcard from Christmas to buy The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics (linking to Amazon because I didn’t ask for the B&N giftcard and I much prefer Amazon). Since then, I’ve torn through Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters (again…and possibly a third time, I’ve lost count by now), The Problem of Pain, The Four Loves, A Grief Observed, and The Great Divorce.
The funniest part of all this is that C.S. Lewis is an example of how I broke the Josh Groban fangirl rule: Don’t ever say, “Yeah, he’s okay, but I’ll never be one of those crazy fans.” Oh how wrong I was! In college and for years after, I would roll my eyes when any discussion brought up the name of Lewis. I would concede that the quotes I’ve read of his were quality, and of course he was an excellent writer and surely a brilliant mind, but goodness gracious, he didn’t write the Bible. He was a fallible man and not Jesus, for crying out loud. But, in less than a year, I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love and reference him all the bloody time and…yeah. Full-blown Lewis fangirl now.
Inspired by Joy’s incessant nagging encouragement to read Perelandra, I set out to find Lewis’ space trilogy. A search last week through the nearest used-book store yielded only That Hideous Strength, and I wanted to start from the beginning. With little to do this past weekend, I decided to comb the used-book stores in close proximity. (Wanting both a reasonable price and instant gratification, I would only order the books online as a last resort.)
In the process, I went to Acorn Bookshop for the first time.
(Side Note: Before the England trip, I had rather hoped that circumstances would allow me to move there in the near future, and began to prepare by decluttering my apartment, including getting rid of books I did not like or admitted I would not read. When I returned from the trip and knew that it was not to be—at least not anytime soon—I figured I might as well start acquiring books again, trying to be less aimless about my choices.)
My new darling, Acorn Bookshop, was exactly everything I wanted in a bookshop (at least a used-book shop): helpful-but-will-leave-you-be-if-necessary, friendly, willing-to-bargain staff; reasonable prices; great selection; generally organized; extensive-but-cozy. People in Columbus rave about the Book Loft, but I consider it highly overrated. At Acorn, I was seeking Lewis’ space trilogy, but I also found a surprising number of Kenneth Roberts books (a late, great, and under-appreciated author of colonial-era historical fiction, recommended to me by my favorite college professor) and a collection of mysteries that had plenty of Dorothy Sayers.
I wandered around the place, delighted, and yet baffled that I found not a single Lewis title—not in the religion section, or the sci-fi, or philosophy. Finally, after a second browse-through, my eye finally caught a whole friggin’ display of Lewis that I had somehow missed the first time. Thanks be to God I did not miss it completely, because they had a complete set of the space trilogy, and even though it was initially labeled $25, I got it for $17, which left room in my wallet to buy a Kenneth Roberts book too (they got me!). I received a warm welcome when I told them that this was my first visit to the store, and after such a pleasant experience I will definitely be back.
Not much good for my wallet or book addiction, but OH WELL. WORTH IT.