“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.”
I’ve read this quote from C. S. Lewis before but came across it earlier this year when I checked out the book Invitation to the Classics from the library. This book, edited by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness exhorts Christians to read and explore the classics of literature. The book opens with three outstanding essays on the value of reading the classics and the Lewis quote appears in one of them. (I returned the book so I don’t know exactly which essay it was.)
I realized that I couldn’t remember the last classic I’d read. (I tried to read The Brothers Karamazov a while back, but didn’t finish it.) I then decided to make up a list of books recommended by Cowan and Guinness and read them. I may not read one old book to every new book, or even every three books as Lewis suggested, but hopefully I’ll become more familiar with the great works of the past.
The first one I read was Madame Bovary. I’ll have more to say on that in a future post, but for now I’ll say it is one of the best novels I have ever read. I’m glad I accepted the invitation.