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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As I was growing up I was a voracious SciFi reader. Short stories by Heinlein, Asimov, Niven and Bradbury were grist for the mill and led to a decidedly open world-view. Then I read the Gospels. what a let-down! Badly written, no plot to speak of, poor carriage of any message, even Aristotle was better reading.
Yes, I imagine the so called gospels were a bore after all that fascinating SciFi. I tried reading the Bible when I was young but it just seemed stupid as well as boring to me.

Cheers

Rob
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah - Richard Bach
Thanks San.
George H. Smith's book "Atheism- The Case Against God" is one of my favorites. He presents arguments that the concept of god is both contradictory and non-coherent. Many people reify the idea of god, that is, they give god incredible attributes without substantiating the 'being' of god, i.e. 'what' is omnipotent and omniscient? There is simply no evidence of any 'being' to pin the attributes on.

A.N. Wilson's book "Jesus", which I've just started, also deflates the Christ myth, suggesting that Paul actually was the 'founder' of Christianity, and not Jesus.

Hyam Maccoby pursues this same theme in "The Mythmaker - Paul and the Invention of Christianity." A Jewish scholar presents a Jewish point of view.

And many, many others such as Dan Barker, Sam Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett.
I'll look for Smith and Wilson's books. Thanks for that Charles.

Cheers

Rob
The Demon Haunted World single-handedly turned me atheist, immediately. It doesn't even talk that much about religion but it debunks so much woo and conspiracy theories that it made me realize there is a rational explanation for everything. In fact I had wanted to read the book for years but had a feeling that it would be "in conflict with" the beliefs that I was trying to believe at the time.
I loved Sagan's Pale Blue Dot so I'm sure I'll enjoy The Demon Haunted World I haven't seen it on the shelves in bookshops. How old is it? Guess I'll look on Amazon.
Well, I have not read any books on the subject of God or Atheist (besides most of the bible for kicks). I never really had many extreme doubts on the subject, I guess I was lucky enough to put the pieces together at a young age.

One book that I did enjoy on the subject of evolution on the other hand was David S. Wilson's "Evolution for Everyone- How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives". I found it to be an interesting read. And of course who can go their entire life without reading the great "Origin of Species", again, not an "atheist" book, but it does go with the flow of it. (Someone needs to teach Darwin a thing or two about run-on sentences.)
Very true about the run-on sentences. I'm currently reading Darwin and I have just come across a sentence that is an entire paragraph that is 1/4 of the page.
I've always been an atheist. I tried reading the bible one time, but it was just so God damn boring.
the bible has value as part of the history of mythology and the King James version is noted for its poetry but as an atheist i have always been appalled that so many people make a fetish of it.

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