5 Lesser-Known Classics By Lewis and Tolkien You Simply Can’t Miss
By pintswaquinas• August 18, 2022 •
Chances are you’ve heard of “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit”, and “The Chronicles of Narnia”. You may have read them, too. Or watched them … but, let’s be honest, the books are the real deal.
But C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a ton more stuff that’s just as amazing. So if your fantastical first steps into Middle Earth and Narnia have you hungering for more, then here are five more titles from these two blokes you absolutely cannot miss!
1. The Space Trilogy
We’re sort of cheating here since it’s three books, but we couldn’t leave out this brilliant sci-fi fantasy adventure by Lewis. Following the interplanetary travels of a philologist named Ransom (based on Lewis’ friend Tolkien), you’ll go from Earth to Mars to Venus and back to a more terrifying Earth.
All the while, Lewis subtly challenges the scientific reductionism and demythologization of our age.
2. “The Silmarillion”
Wonder where all the really, really old characters in “The Lord of the Rings“ came from? In “The Silmarillion“, Tolkien takes us back to the creation of Middle Earth. We learn of the origin of elves, dwarves, men, and Sauron himself — plus Sauron’s even more wicked boss, Morgoth.
As with “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Silmarillion” reveals Tolkien’s Catholic sensibilities, especially through its treatment of creation, free will, and evil.
3. “The Great Divorce”
The curious thing about this classic by Lewis is that while it’s a work of fiction, it gives one of the best explanations of hell in all literature. It really hits home the point that anyone who goes to hell has, in reality, chosen it. God doesn’t force anyone to go there.
This is a beautiful work full of rich theological themes. It’s also a fairly short read — perfect for a rainy weekend when you’re stuck inside.
4. “Tales from the Perilous Realm”
This is a collection of delightful short stories by Tolkien. Depending on which edition you get, it may have four or five stories. “Leaf by Niggle” is one of the most beautiful gems in the collection. Many interpreters think it’s a symbolic portrayal of Purgatory.
And if you couldn’t get enough of Tom Bombadil in “The Lord of the Rings”, then you’ve got “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” to look forward to! (For those who’ve only watched “The Lord of the Rings” movies, stop giving us that blank stare!)
5. “On Fairy Stories”
This essay is based on a lecture Tolkien gave in 1939, and it is a gem! Not only does Tolkien go into the history of fairy tales, but he even begins to sketch out a theology of fantasy. He draws a powerful connection between the Gospel and elements of classic fairy tales.
Well, looks like you have some awesome reading to look forward to. Go grab these books and your favorite beverage, kick back, and prepare to be amazed by these two incredible storytellers!
PINTS WITH AQUINAS
Become part of the Pints With Aquinas community by supporting the show on Locals. Depending on the amount of your monthly gift, you’ll get access to some pretty awesome perks, from the “Morning Coffee” podcast to monthly spiritual direction videos from Fr. Gregory Pine!