One son picked a book about CS Lewis from my wish list to receive as a stocking present. He found this annoying, that I would ask him would pick from my list. The alternatives are worse, of course. For a main present we of course check his list, but for stocking presents he would be entirely dependent on "what Pops thinks he will like," or worse, "what Pops thinks he should have." He cut his losses and chose.
The purpose, of course, is that I can read the book before I give it to him. My brother and I have for years regarded this as a perk of giving books to each other, and I just transferred it over to my sons.
This particular book is disappointing, however, which adds to the difficulty. It is Peter Schackel's Is Your Lord Large Enough? It's accurate enough and in no way objectionable. Schackel does indeed capture some main points of Lewis's thought and set out the questions. He chooses his quotes well, which gives a good exposure to a variety of works by Lewis. It is the quotes from Lewis, Chesterton, and MacDonald, however, which highlight the flatness of his own writing. Worse, it has discussion questions at the end of each chapter (shudder). For the first forty pages I mentally composed a short note I would include with the book to render it more readable. At the top of the list was a directive to ignore the discussion questions or at most, read only the first one each chapter.
They were good enough questions in their own way. They were exactly the sorts of life-changing thought questions that all of us would profit from. They reflected exactly what one should ponder from Lewis. There just didn't seem to be any need to answer them. Or to do more than skim the Schakel writing between the Lewis quotes. It all seemed a lot of effort for a small return.
If the point is to read Lewis quotes, why not get something actually written by Lewis? So I did, and one that I think fits Ben particularly well. Lewis can raise large issues quite on his own without any help from modern commenters. That's where I should have started to begin with. He'll get two books, and may even get more juice out of the first one than I did, now that he knows its pitfalls.
Primary sources. How could I forget such a basic rule?