British writer C.S. Lewis wrote over 30 books in his lifetime and has sold more than a million copies globally. If you’ve never read any of his books, you might wonder which ones to read first, especially since some are part of a series, such as The Chronicles of Narnia. What C.S. Lewis book should you read first?
The C.S. Lewis book you should read first is The Magician’s Nephew, which is the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia. Many are inclined to start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; however, this is not the beginning of the series.
In this article, I’ll explore why you should start by reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before exploring other books in the Narnia collection, as well as what reading order to follow when reading other C.S. Lewis’s books. I’ll also feature lists of other C.S. Lewis books that you can read in any order you like.
The Best Reading Order for C.S. Lewis’ Books
What can make starting to read C.S. Lewis books tricky is that the author has books in different categories, and they’re not all children’s books. The categories are as follows:
C.S. Lewis’ Books About Faith
C.S. Lewis wrote many books about faith. These include the following books:
- Mere Christianity (1952). An introduction to the Christian faith.
- The Four Loves (1960). Explores the different types of love that exist.
- The Great Divorce (1945). A fictional tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven that features themes such as good vs. evil.
- The Screwtape Letters (1942). A religious satire that looks at temptation and how to triumph over it.
- Surprised By Joy (1955). A memoir featuring the author’s personal journey and conversion to Christianity.
- A Grief Observed (1961). Looks at issues of life and death in the face of loss. C.S. Lewis wrote it after the death of his wife.
- The Problem of Pain (1940). A Christianity-focused book that explores the question of why God allows people to feel pain.
- Miracles (1947). In this book, C.S. Lewis tells readers to rejoice in miracles as a testimony of God’s involvement in the world.
- Reflections on the Psalms (1958). This book helps Christian readers to use the psalms in their daily lives.
You don’t have to worry about which of the above C.S. Lewis books to read first, as they can be enjoyed separately. However, if you want to read them all, follow the order in which they were published, as this will give you insight into the author’s thoughts. In this case, start with The Problem of Pain.
C.S. Lewis Fiction Books: The Chronicles of Narnia
If you’re interested in C.S. Lewis’ books, you will want to start reading The Chronicles of Narnia, which is considered C.S. Lewis’s most popular work. This series contains seven books.
Although some people advise others to read the books according to the order in which they were published, this isn’tthe best advice because it will cause you to lose the thread of the story. Even C.S. Lewis himself once told a young fan of his that he should read his books in chronological order!
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a C.S. Lewis book that was published in 1950. It should be readafterThe Magician’s Nephew, which was published in 1955.
This is because The Magician’s Nephew is the best book to start with if you’re keen on reading the entire collection, as it’s an introduction to the world of Narnia. It provides readers with insight into how the world came about, setting the foundation for the story to take place and the other books to make sense.
The novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is sometimes mistakenly touted as the first book in the Narnia series, but the first one is actually The Magician’s Nephew. So, you should read these fictional books in the following order:
- The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
- The Horse and His Boy (1954)
- Prince Caspian (1951)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
- The Silver Chair (1953)
- The Last Battle (1956)
Some readers have chosen to remove The Horse and His Boy from the list of C.S. Lewis’s books because it’s the only book that doesn’t seem to fit in with the collection. This is because it’s set in a different world with different characters.
However, it’s worth reading it because it provides readers with a greater understanding of the story leading up to The Last Battle.
If you’d love to know more about why C.S. Lewis chose to write the Narnia stories, you should read our guide, “Why Did C.S. Lewis Write the First Narnia Book?“to learn about his inspiration.
C.S. Lewis Fiction Books: The Space Trilogy Series
This sci-fi collection has three books that you should read in this order:
- Out of the Silent Planet (1938)
- Perelandra (1943)
- That Hideous Strength (1945)
You want to start with Out of the Silent Planet because this book introduces us to Dr. Elwin Ransom, who gets kidnapped and taken to Mars. Here, he meets the people who are living on Mars and learns about what has happened to Earth.
After reading this first book in the trilogy, you can move on to Perelandra, where you’ll see Dr. Elwin travels to Venus, where he engages in a battle of good vs. evil.
In the last book of the trilogy, entitled That Hideous Strength, the setting is Earth. The evil forces dealt with in the previous books now reach our home planet. You have to read the previous two books to build up to the battle on Earth in the final installment of this series, allowing you to come full circle.
If you want to start reading C.S. Lewis’s books, you might wonder what order in which to do this. With The Chronicles of Narnia series, it’s a misconception to begin with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as The Magician’s Nephew is an introduction to the fantastical world of Narnia that will enrich your reading experience.