I am always looking for something new to read. However, most of what I find recommended in newspaper book reviews (for example) I find shallow and desultory.

 

I would like some recommendations from atheists. I'd like to know which books have changed you,  spoken deeply to you, made you who you are and contributed to your atheism. My own list would include the following:

 

Shakespear, The Merchant of Venice (Not a book but a play I read long before I saw it performed. I was struck by the injustices it exposed)

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (The shallowness she dwelt on, the very human concerns of her 18th Century English society, the beautiful language)

Cormak McCarthy, The Road (Very recent and to be read slowly (this is hard - I read it on a one and a half hour flight) and capable of being read again and again )

Patick White,Flaws in the Glass, an autobiography of Australia's (gay and only) Nobel laureat for literature - I loved how he disparaged the Austalian establishment.  And his The Tree of Man, a novel about the nobility and grandure of ordinary people carving out a life in the Austalian bush in the early days of setlement in this country. White helped me see what is is to be just human, 'All to Human', to love and hate appropriately.

Jean Paul Satre, Huis Clos.  (Another play - I majored in French in my first BA and have never recovered. Its message is that 'Hell is other people' and that what you do in this life is all you'll ever do; your history will be complete , no hope of revision)

Samuel Becket, The End (Probably the greatest and most gut wrenching short story ever written - I should also add Waiting for Godot, another play) 

Erwin Schroedinger, What is Life. (He anticipated later developments in biological/genetic science as well as being instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics)

Don Cupit, The Sea of Faith (This put a lot of my former reading in perspective for me)

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (Another persuasive perspective put-er)

Richard Dawkins, The selfish Gene and The God Delusion (the first a revelation, the second a confirmation - both books were consciousness raisers)

Christopher Hitchins, God Is Not Great (Hitch  is a great plomemicist - he can sock it to a Mother Teressa or a Pope as well as he can give it to your average ethnic cleanser)

 

This list is by no means complete nor does it reflect the chronological order in which the works were read. They are just readings that spring immediately to mind.  And I am not saying that the above list is better than anyone else's or that it should be read. Indeed, I suspect I have missed a lot in my reading life. So, I would like your recommendations, your lists of what has affected you deeply, changed the way you see the world, helped make you an atheist

 

Thanks

 

Rob 

 

 

 

 

Tags: books

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks, Steve.

I have read the Blind Watchmaker. It also helped me.

The others on your list I will put on my 'to read' list.

Cheers

Rob
Good books I've read recently.

In Defense of Atheism - Michel Onfray
Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon - Daniel Dennett
Jesus Interrupted - Bart D. Ehrman
Thanks Tom

They only one I haven't read yet is Ehman. I'll look out for it.

Cheers

Rob
I also loved The Blind Watchmaker and The Road, but onto books not mentioned...

Captain Stormfield Goes to Heaven by Mark Twain is a weird and wacky little story. The whole thing seems to be one big farcical jab at religious belief, or is at least, I imagine, enhanced when read from an atheistic perspective.

59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman is a evidence-based thinker's stab at a self-help book. Wittily written, with great suggestions for improving one's life that actually have some basis in legitimate research.

Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne is my favorite recent book in defense of evolution... Admittedly, the only other 2 I've read are Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters and The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, and although both are great, Coyne's book seemed far clearer, more direct, and more relevant to the arguments I hear from creationists.

Although it's certainly not written with the most artistic or elegant prose, the book that converted me was Why Won't God Heal Amputees? by Marshall Brain (which actually only exists, as far as I know, as an online "book" here: http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god-toc.htm ). It is about as straight-forward as I can imagine -- almost as if it is written for a child (or an indoctrinated believer!). But, it is extremely thorough with impenetrable, rock-solid logic, making it an amazing de-conversion tool. I'm incredibly thankful I accidentally stumbled across it and was sucked in by the enticing title!

I hope something here seems remotely interesting. Good luck!
Thanks heaps, Mike. The ones in your list I have not read are Mark Twain and teh one with the catchy title Why Won't God Heral Amputees. I'm looking forward to them.

Cheers

Rob
Thanks for starting the thread and sharing your favorites -- it's helped me create my own reading list as people respond! A lot of great suggestions are in here.
For a recent book I found fascinating, The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright.

What pushed me over the edge, when I was about 13, and into the realization that belief in god and religion were a load of crap? Inherit the Wind, a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
Wright has produced some good reads in the past so I'll look for his Evolution of God and see if I can't find the play by Lawrence.

Thanks Pat
Friedrich Nietzsche- Beyond Good and Evil
Richard Dawkins- The God Delusion
The End of Faith- Sam Harris
The Origin of Species- Charles Darwin
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams
1984- George Orwell
Dune- Frank Herbert

...and of course, the Bible
The two on your list I've not yet read are Orwell and Herbert.

They're now on my list. Thanks Noah.

Rob
Simone de Beauvoir "The Second Sex." I liked her analysis so much that I realized that religious thinking holds you back intellectually. I know it sounds corny but it made me realize you can trust your intellect and hold your mind to a higher standard.
I've always thought of reading de Beauvoir but never got around to it. Maybe it's a male thing but I;ll certianly give her a go.

Cheers

Rob

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