I read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis for the first time last December. A lifelong Christian and Narnia superfan, I’m late to the party, I know. But as the dust settled from an election that shined a glaring spotlight on our cultural divisions—political, social, economic, theological—I was feeling out of sorts. Christian leaders I respected as well as people close to me who had helped shape my own faith were on the other side of the divide, and I needed a touchstone, something to help reorient me in the foundations of the faith, so I could move forward. I reached out to one of the great Christian thinkers of the twentieth century and found the solace I needed in his book.
This is the power of books. They let us escape, try on new points of view, and explore what it means to be human. The great works give readers a shared experience and a shorthand for big ideas. Describing something as Orwellian is a big hit lately, if you haven’t noticed. We return to old favorites again and again when we need the familiarity of a trusted friend. Books can heal the spirit and soothe the soul like nothing else can.