Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Four Loves” as Want to Read:
The Four Loves
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Four Loves

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  38,986 ratings  ·  1,509 reviews
A repackaged edition of the revered author's classic work that examines the four types of human love: affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God—part of the C. S. Lewis Signature Classics series.

C.S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by HarperOne (first published 1960)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Four Loves, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Andrew Corrie "Charity" is a somewhat archaic English translation of the Greek word "agape" (pronounced, more or less, a-ga-pay). As in 1 Corinthinans:

nuni de…more
"Charity" is a somewhat archaic English translation of the Greek word "agape" (pronounced, more or less, a-ga-pay). As in 1 Corinthinans:

nuni de menei pistis, elpis, agape" = "and now remain faith, hope and charity".

Agape implies the kind of sacrificial, self-giving love referred to by Jesus in John 15:13 ("greater love has no man...." or that exemplified by Jesus himself. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  38,986 ratings  ·  1,509 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
Read this in college when most of it went over my head...then life happens. After a life full of joy and tragedy and senseless loss at times...this work sits in my nightstand drawer so I can be renewed, reawakened and reminded of higher purposes when the world is too much with me.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The book was based on a set of radio talks from 1958. Taking his start from St. John's words "God is Love", Lewis initially thought to contrast "Need-love" (such as the love of a child for its mother) and "Gift-love" (epitomized by God's love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happe
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a fascinating read, though a bit more "high-brow" than my usual fare. Having a background in the classics, as in OLD classics, would help to make more of it understandable. And sometimes I got a little lost in his logic. However, the points of view on the different types of love were very useful to me, in reflecting on my own life and relationships. If I were to sum up the effect on me in one word, it would be "clarifying."

I am an incurable romantic; nevertheless through the years I hav
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With clarity C.S. Lewis outlines the four loves as he understands them. As I read I recognized the roles these loves play, and have played, in my life and in the lives of those I know. People and possible motives for their actions became apparent to me. It is a book that captures reflections to share with the reader and allow them to create more of the same. Below is an excerpt that I wished to share.

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and
David Sarkies
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
Recommended to David by: My Dad, and Plato
Shelves: philosophy
Lewis explores love
24 March 2013

This is one of those books that every time I read it (this is the third time I think) I learn something new, so I guess I am going to have to put this book up in the realms of literature. The interesting thing about this book is that when Lewis wrote it he had not been in a relationship (he remained single until he met Joy Davidman, which is actually the subject of a book, a movie, and even a play) so he is not actually writing from experience. However
Jonathan Terrington

The other works of C.S. Lewis that I have been reading recently, tackle more of the concept of Christianity. Lewis, arguing in those works concepts that I agree with. Namely that Christians aren't any more moral than any other people, nor are they any more spiritual (after all there can be spiritual good and spiritual evil), but that Christianity is more about returning the natural to the supernatural. However, here in this work of non-fiction, he chooses to discuss the topic of love.

Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians interested in serious reflection
Though Lewis is a favorite writer of mine, this is the first time that I've read this particular short volume, presenting his theological, moral, psychological and philosophical reflections on the human experience of the four kinds of "love" referred to (by different Greek words) in the New Testament. One reviewer spoke of this as an "apologetic," and indeed Lewis wrote many apologetic works, designed to make a rational case for Christianity for unbelieving readers. However, this isn't one of th ...more
I talk about how much I dislike Lewis and yet read two of his books in the space of a few days. Hypocritical much? If you enjoy Lewis' continual didacticism, this is the book for you. I found it hard to get through (though I persevered) due to sexist anachronisms (women, as homemakers, cannot understand a man's world or thoughts) and statements with which I vehemently disagree presented as facts (don't get me started). Admittedly, I don't read philosophy or dogma well, and this is both. However, ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, religion
4 1/2 stars. I bumped it up 1/2 star for the last chapter ..... awesome!
Sunshine Rodgers
So I always love reading anything by C.S. Lewis. He is my go-to author! This book is basically Lewis just talking about his insights and his perspectives on love. It's almost like I am out with him drinking coffee at the cafe and he's just sharing his thoughts on love and friendship. There was a lot of contradictions i.e. sex without love can be a good thing...friendship can be a bad thing. And I was like, "Okay...explain." And Lewis *does* explain and offers terrific ideals and values on love, ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ENGLISH: One of the best books about love I've ever read. This is the fifth time I've read it, just after "The Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm. My conclusion is that Lewis knows what he is speaking about far more than Fromm. Of the four loves Lewis talks about, Fromm only knows two: storge and eros (affection and erotic love). He completely ignores friendship (philia) and the love of God (charitas), which is not strange, because Fromm declares himself non-theist.

The part that Lewis dev
Jason Koivu
The fantasy novels of CS Lewis can barely touch the fanciful nature of love, but in The Four Loves, his work on the subject feels so in tune with the complexity of its forms that it seems as if it MUST be written by some learned/aged Don Juan reflecting back on the lusts and loves of his past, so much so that you forget all about Lewis, the pasty white English professor and his faerie books. The Four Loves made a strong impression on me in my youth. Perhaps I didn't, and maybe still don't, take his every w ...more
Whenever I read any book by Lewis I always ask myself why I read anything else until I've read everything he has ever written. He puts everything in such a way that is so complex yet so simple. Only a true genius can write something that you feel exactly the same way yourself, but could never have the eloquence to state it like Lewis can.

Highly recommend The Four Loves to anyone who has ever loved anything. I live with a beautiful example of these loves in my own home in my husband,
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was something I looked forward to reading and then I was totally bored and disgusted with it. What frustrated me the most is how he would take an opinion or outright incorrect statement such as Pagans worship trees (way way way out of context and incorrect) and then use that false statement to support his arguments. That is basic logic 101 class and made most of his arguments invalid. I wanted to like what he was saying but couldnt because he was just down right incorrect in so much.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I'm listening to this book so I'm not sure how everything is spelled. This first type of love reminds me of the basic level of care at the bottom of the psychological pyramids that is so often neglected and often leads to such dysfunctional young adults and crime. If an infant doesn't feel secure and isn't nurtured, then he will not grow up feeling compassion for humanity.
As for philia I totally agree with his philosophy. I have "friends" and I have friends. I have a group of five sorority
Douglas Wilson
Outstanding. Also read in September of 1983. And then in 2016 I listened to the audio recording of Lewis himself reading an earlier form of the book.
The Four Loves is based on the four Greek words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Lewis defines each of these types of love and how they affect our lives. It was a short, lovely read. It was at times a little highbrow, but remember that it was written in the 40's by a Cambridge professor. Still Lewis has a wonderful way with words, and some of the reflections and quotes were quiet resonant. Such as this one:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart wi
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve decided to re-read some of the old C.S. Lewis titles that inhabited my parents’ bookcases. Most of them I read first when I was a teenager and glad to page through most anything near at hand. At some point in my early twenties I decided that Lewis was too something-or-other for me. I could never quite figure out what it was about him that irked. Was he too reasonable and intellectual? Not reasonable or intellectual enough? I don’t know.

Reading him again in my mid-forties is a different experience
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At his best Lewis can be very good (Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), but at other times he can be a bit frustrating. He has an excellent mind overstuffed with knowledge of many fine things, he’s often insightful, and he’s able to write engagingly and accessibly while fleshing out a carefully conceived and detailed plan. But when he’s not at his best there can be too much wordplay and other cleverness combined with an over-certain pedagogy, or at least that’s how it comes off for me. It’s p ...more
Kells Next Read
Actual Ratings: 3.75 Stars
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, seekers
Re-reading Four Loves several years after my first reading I find a depth that I missed before. This last major work touching on Christianity by Lewis is less polemic and more analytic.

Going beyond the division of loves into gift-loves and need-loves, Lewis delves into how any affection can raise us bring us closer to divine source of love or move us farther away.

Not light reading, but worth it. More profound and challenging with each reading.

New review:

Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read any CS Lewis in years, and I remember not being especially impressed the first time I read this book; it didn't seem to have a cohesive thesis. However, I ran across a used copy at a flea market in NYC (irresistible) and couldn't put it down on the airplane home. I can see why I thought Lewis was tangential, and I assume I overlooked the genius because at the time I was too naive of love (& it's pitfalls) to understand his meditations. No doubt the book will be even more meanin ...more
Julie Davis
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication of the book.

That said, I am enjoying hearing Lewis's own voice. I keep thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien's supposed basing of the Ents and their way of talking on his friend C.S. Lewis ... and it kind of works.

Also the material is great and is a wonderful precis (probably) of the book which I know contains more material. And which I will be read
Steven Wedgeworth
One of his best. Read it with De Rougemont. Read it before you try to get a girlfriend. Then make your girlfriend read it. Then make your parents and her parents read it.
Where most books on love give food for thought, THE FOUR LOVES offers a king's banquet. There is more wisdom in one page of this book than in the entirety of Erich Fromm's THE ART OF LOVING.
Love is a messy subject, so it's only natural that Lewis' analysis be a bit messy as well. And though he's incredibly methodical in shaping his ideas and presenting them with art and diplomacy, Lewis writes with such warmth and accessibility that we view him as the sagely uncle we all dearly wish we had
Rebekah Choat
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, inklings
Lewis begins by drawing a distinction between "gift-love" and "need-love," defining the first as the type of love which motivates a man to work and plan for his family's future well-being although he will not live to see its fulfillment, and the second as that which sends a frightened child running to his mother. There follows a scholarly yet warmly conversational discussion of the four loves known to man: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. In conclusion, the author says, "We must try to ...more
Rebecca Hicks
I used to think this book was really amazing. Now, although I can still enjoy it, after my own experiences of deep friendship and affection, I find myself disagreeing with some of the details of Lewis's ideas.

For example, Lewis seems to think that true friendship is almost impossible between a man and a woman. Try telling that to my male best friend! (although, to give him credit, maybe such a friendship was less likely in his time than in ours) Also, he seems doubtful as to whether
♥ Ibrahim ♥
He divides love into four kinds and follows the ancient Greek pattern. Such definitions of love are confusing because these supposed four categories overlap. I might love a woman with pure love and love progresses and lo and behold it becomes erotic. The two indeed overlap. Eros itself might or might not involve sexual attraction and desire.
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, I’d give it 3.5 stars. I loved the chapters on friendship and charity, but found the chapters on erotic love and agape love dense and a bit boring. Adore Lewis’ writings, but this one isn’t a favorite. Would still recommend though!
Matt Witten
It’s always amazing to me how Lewis starts at what seems to be a “40k foot”, philosophical view, and somehow quickly and succinctly brings it to an impactful, eye level point. Great read for thoughts on relationships, altruism, friendships, and marriage, and how they relate to the ultimate love of God.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Heretics
  • Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion
  • Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe)
  • Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
  • Real Christianity
  • Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason
  • After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
  • Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
  • A Christian Manifesto
  • The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing
  • Here and Now: Living in the Spirit
  • The Cost of Discipleship
  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
  • Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World
  • Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • Can Man Live Without God
  • Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God
See similar books…
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at
“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” 83702 likes
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 18914 likes
More quotes…