Curiously, apropos of nothing, this came up at work today, in what order should C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books be read? I said, “Publication order–The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes first.” My coworker took a different view–in her boxed set The Magician’s Nephew comes first.

Oh, the pain!

Some may find it curious that, staunch atheist as I am, I have an opinion on approaching the Narnia books. Call it nostalgia. I read them when I was very young–six, if memory serves–when an animated adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was shown on a Chicago television station prompting my mother to buy me a set of the books. The order of the books then had Lion first, Magician’s Nephew sixth. It was in the mid-90s that the publishers renumbered the books, moving the chronologically-first Magician’s Nephew to the number one spot. But just as I would never recommend that anyone take The Silmarillion as the entry point into Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, nor would I recommend Magician’s Nephew as the introduction to Narnia for it removes some of the mystery to be discovered along the way.

I’ve not read any Lewis in a while, not since I read the Space Trilogy in the mid-90s (and Lewis’ abandoned fourth novel in the sequence). Perhaps I should give Narnia another try, before the film of Lion comes to theaters next fall.

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