Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber – 2011 Books of the Year

I read a number of good memoirs this year (Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Ian Cron, etc.) but Surprised by Oxford was my favorite.  A beautifully written book about a student finding God while studying literature in Oxford.  If you like books about books and memoirs that are as much about ideas as timeline, than you will like this.  I also highly recommend Ian Cron’s Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me.  I had a hard time deciding which I liked better.  Cron’s book was very good and I really recommend it as well.

Surprised by Oxford: A MemoirSummary: Girl finds God at Oxford in one of the most beautifully written memoirs written in recent years.

Memoirs are an increasingly popular form.  Especially since Donald Miller, the memoir seems to have found a new life by showing how a person found God.  In many ways, this is just an updating of the traditional testimony that has been, and in some churches still is, a common part of the church liturgy.  I have read a lot of memoirs over the past few years.  Many of them quite good.   But none were as well written and literary as Surprised by Oxford.

Carolyn Weber grew up in London, Ontario.  Child of divorced Hungarian immigrants, she had to work hard to make it through high school and college while working to support herself and family and making excelling grades.  Caro, as she was known, won a full scholarship to study literature at Oxford.  She eventually received her masters and doctorate from Oxford and now is a professor of literature.

Her background shows through in every page.  Rarely have I read a more beautiful and evocative book.  Caro is brilliant, and her friends are brilliant.  They quote great literature and poems at one another, have deep theological conversations, and make me wish I had studied literature instead of sociology in college.  I am sure I missed a number of the allusions.  Many are quite subtle, a couple I wanted to run over and show someone.  I did, by the time I had read half of the book, give copies to three friends.  This is a book to be shared.

It is not a surprise that eventually Caro finds God at Oxford.  But the story of her first year there, and the changes in her life are a pleasure to read.  You need to go pick this book up.

Purchase Links: PaperbackKindle Edition

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This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publisher for purpose of review.

3 Comments

This confirms my suspicion that this is a book I’m going to have to read when the house is vacant or the children are asleep. 🙂

That’s for posting a review. I have this book but haven’t started it yet. Eager to do so.

Hello! Just want to say thank you for this interesting article! =) Peace, Joy.

I have a copy of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me on my shelf. I’ll have to give that one a try soon. Thanks for sharing your review! I put up a link to it on my blog.

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