Book Review: Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Complimentary Copy from BookSneeze Bloggers Program

Rating: A+ (5 stars!)

Promo: When Carolyn Weber arrived at Oxford for her graduate studies, she felt no need for God. Her childhood in a broken but loving family taught her to rely on reason and intellect—not faith—for survival. Eager and expectant, Carolyn sets out to study Romantic literature in one of the most inspiring and beautiful academic environments in the world. She had no idea that she was about to embark on a love story of her own—one much deeper, more colorful, and more surprisingly God-shaped than any she’d read before … Surprised by Oxford tells the real-life tale of a young woman’s search for—and eventual discovery of—purpose, identity, and what it means to be human.

My last few reviews for Book Sneeze have rated fair to sub-par. Not so with Carolyn Weber’s book, “Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down! Intelligent. Thoughtful. Honest. “Surprised by Oxford” is a beautifully written account of Carolyn Weber’s intellectual search for truth and meaning in life, while attending Oxford University in England.

A self-proclaimed agnostic (at the onset), Weber shares her journey of grappling with the deeper questions of life: Does God really exist? Why do such horrible things happen in this world? What is my purpose? Are intellect and faith mutually exclusive? Is there room for faith in academia? What about feminism? What is the meaning of grace? What is required to follow Jesus—what is expected and how will life change, post-conversion?

One of the reasons why I really enjoyed this book so much is because of the author’s honesty. Every page is filled with the passion and pains of a deliberate, intelligent, inquisitive mind seeking to know–really know–the truth about God, Jesus, death, suffering, pain, science, academia, purpose, joy, grace, conversion, (etc.). Weber bears her mind (and occasionally her heart)—every concern, every question, every doubt, every hesitation, every paradox, every seeming contradiction in accepting the reality of God and the Bible as more than a great work of literature. In this sense, the author’s inquisition is relatable as most of us, I assume, have at one point in our lives considered the very same questions.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone open to reading a thoughtful, intelligent dissection of the Christian faith.

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.)


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