My Review of Surprised By Laughter by Terry Lindvall

I was sent this book by Book Sneeze, as always I am not required to give a positive review but an honest one. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Almost a year ago, I attended a lecture given by Terry Lindvall at the C.S. Lewis Society in New York City. I found the lecture to be pretty interesting, was excited about the book until I saw that it was more than 450 pages. Umm … I’ll wait for the movie. Then it became available through BookSneeze and thought I’d sign up.

Surprised by Laughter is a legit read.  For me it wasn’t an everyday book but a one I enjoyed picking up every so often.

A couple things. This book is written with a dude with a PhD. Just a head’s up – PhD humor is different than regular people humor. This is not to say that people with such degrees aren’t funny – some of them really are. But I think it’s safe to say that Terry’s idea of humor is different then the writers of SNL. So who is Terry Lindvall? He is the CS Lewis Professor of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College. He is clearly more than qualified and I found his personality to be relatable, it’s no surprise that he would write a book like this.

Two, this book is not for the casual CS Lewis fan. It’s more than 450 pages! It’s not the next step after reading Mere Christianity. Further, if you are not familiar with Lewis’ personality, sarcasm and wit, this might not be that interesting to you.

What I Liked:
– Because I heard the lecture first, I had an appropriate expectation. So it was easy for me to appreciate (this is why some authors are eager to do book tours right?).
– The writing is fantastic. You would expect that but it better be good if you expect people to make it to the end.
– The research is impressive. But it’s not just library research, so much of Terry’s content is found in the stories that are being told by people who knew Lewis and now the children of people who loved him.
– My favorite aspect of the book is that it gives you such a personal perspective of Jack (Lewis’ nickname). It’s not just analyzing how he uses humor, nor is it strictly about comedic episodes of his life, it’s a much broader take on Lewis’ personality and how he saw the world – this included much humor.
– The inclusion of Jack’s friends. Laughter is best experienced with others and it was great to get that.

What I Wasn’t Sure About:
– More than 450 pages! Though well-written, though well-researched, it was hard to be motivated to read it for what it was. But to be fair, just about everything written about Lewis is too long, so I guess this fits the genre :)

Who I Think the Book Is For
This book is really for CS Lewis fans who have to buy every book with his name on it. But the real benefit of the book is that you really get an incredible look in Lewis’ life and so even if you don’t read all the way to the end, you’ll enjoy what you have read. You probably won’t be funnier but you’ll get to see more of Lewis’ personal life (and you may have a a couple more interesting things to say should you stop by the C.S. Lewis Society in New York City).