Week 34: Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir, by Carolyn Weber

You can instantly tell from the title's invocation of C. S. Lewis that this is going to be a memoir about the author's conversion to Christianity while at Oxford. And--it's really good. I enjoyed it a lot and I think most of my friends would too. If there were more copies around, I'd use it as a book club selection.

Carolyn Weber received a scholarship to study at Oxford for graduate school. She arrived there in the mid-90's as a fairly typical agnostic student somewhat allergic to the world "Christian" (since as we all know, Christians are rigidly judgmental and irrational). But Weber also feels a great lack in her life, and as she gets to know some truly wonderful Christians and reads the Bible, she unwillingly feels the hounds of heaven stalking her.

Weber's story is very much a story of Oxford. She follows the Oxford school year, which is based on the liturgical calendar--finally, I know understand what Hilary term is!--and describes the university and city in loving detail. She does not spend too much time on the most famous Oxford Christian of them all, which is on the whole a good thing. I did find one thing a little annoying; Weber calls one of her spiritual mentors TDH instead of by a name. Since his eventual destiny is obvious from the start, it seems silly to give him initials, but it's not really an obtrusive problem.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book; I did not expect it to be as well-written and interesting as it is. I'll be recommending this title to quite a few people.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (through Booksneeze) in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I'm glad you liked it too! Did it make you reminisce about college?

  2. Yes, a bit, but my experience was so different! Although I knew a lot of the same people--allergic to the word "Christian."

  3. Which book did you order next? I just chose "Love you More". Really it was slim pickings this time. I don't want my blog to be political at all. I REALLY wish my Spanish was good enough for the Martin Luther book, but that would be tough at this point.

  4. I was so confused by the title of the Little Red Book that I ordered that. Why would anyone name a management book after Chairman Mao? Then I found out that there are little red instructional books too. I still think it's weird though. Haven't read it (or even downloaded it) yet.


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