77 highly recommended atheist-related books

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MichaelNugent
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77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by MichaelNugent » Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:35 am

This week I asked on Twitter and Facebook about people's favourite atheist-related books, and why.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins was recommended as many times as the next three books combined. The Bible took second place, with its power to convince people of atheism edging it ahead of God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

Also popular were books by Phillip Pullman, Sam Harris, Bertrand Russell, Daniel Dennett, Douglas Adams, Michael Shermer, Julian Baggini, Pascal Boyer, Nietzsche, Carl Sagan and Derren Brown.

But the most fascinating part is the eclectic list of books recommended once. You may not have heard of all of them, but each is a book that somebody, somewhere, believes to be a valuable read for anybody interested in finding out more about atheism, reality or morality.

Here’s the full list, along with some of the reasons that people gave as to why this was their favourite atheist-related book.

77 highly-recommended atheist-related books
DaithiDublin
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Re: 77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by DaithiDublin » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:47 am

That's a really useful resource Michael. It brings to mind the famous quote from Socrates "All I know is that I know nothing".

I won't let on that I've read his Republic, I'll be honest and admit that it's on a T-shirt my mother brought me back from Greece. Having read your list all I can do is own up to my ignorance. But you've provided a remedy for that and I'll be referring to this list for many years to come, no doubt.

Thanks,
Dave
As yet I have not found a single case of a terrestrial animal which fertilises itself.

- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
(he obviously never went to Bray)
Mirthomaniac
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Re: 77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by Mirthomaniac » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:03 pm

DaithiDublin wrote:
I won't let on that I've read his Republic
Decidedly not, since Plato wrote The Republic. :wink:

I have it on my shelf, and am yet to read it due to my annoying habit of stockpiling books. I've read some of these, but it seems to be a great list for me to take on.

Would recommend God Is Not Great over The God Delusion, though both are good. I find Hitchens' encyclopaedic knowledge of history and his command of language to be the major deciding factor there. It just demolishes religion as an idea, whereas TGD is more about Dawkins actually attempting to reach some kind of understanding. At least that's what I took from it.

Philip Pullman comes as no surprise. I was enamoured with his Dark Materials a few years back. I never really took the religious references at face value then, but I suppose having gay angels in your story is as straight up as you can get!

I'd add a few Irish works to that list. Cock-a-doodle Dandy by Séan Ó Casey is absolutely insane, yet it remains a venemous assault on Catholicism nonetheless. The Yeats poem An Indian Upon God is actually very un-Yeats like in some ways, but it captures the emotional 'need' that people have for a personal creator. Neither of these are distinctly atheist, but I would personally include them among 'atheist reading' if it just isn't Irish enough for you 8)
DaithiDublin
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Re: 77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by DaithiDublin » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:33 pm

Decidedly not, since Plato wrote The Republic.

Proving my point perfectly. :lol: I have it on a shelf not 12 inches from too, would you believe! It's hard to separate the two, I find.

I'd agree with you about God is not Great. He's mesmerising as a speaker and as a writer. Nothing seems to get by him. I loved his take on the well worn phrase There but for the grace of God go I, pointing out that what you are actually saying is There by the grace of God goes someone else!


I've only read the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. My own stockpiling habit keeps me from the others. I have a copy of his recent book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ that I've yet to open. Hitchens was unimpressed in an interview I saw, I'm trying not to let that get in the way...

I'll check out the Ó Casey book. I hadn't heard of that.

And for the day that's in it, I have to mention How the Irish Saved Civilisation by Thomas Cahill. It contains a brilliant account of the life of Patricius. It's not an atheistic book by any measure, but it is worth reading. A stolen slave returns to civilise the pagan natives who held him captive. And the rest, unfortunately, is history. St. Patrick is our own fault. But far worse is the missionary culture he created here. And the monastic settlements that managed to preserve so many religious texts that would otherwise have been (thankfully) lost in the dark ages. Doh!
As yet I have not found a single case of a terrestrial animal which fertilises itself.

- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
(he obviously never went to Bray)
Mirthomaniac
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Re: 77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by Mirthomaniac » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:17 pm

DaithiDublin wrote: I've only read the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy.
I recall liking the third one the best, but it's been a long time.
I'll check out the Ó Casey book. I hadn't heard of that.
It's actually a play. Still well worth reading, and probably worth seeing too.
aiseiri47
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Re: 77 highly recommended atheist-related books

Post by aiseiri47 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:35 pm

DaithiDublin wrote:
I've only read the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. My own stockpiling habit keeps me from the others. I have a copy of his recent book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ that I've yet to open. Hitchens was unimpressed in an interview I saw, I'm trying not to let that get in the way...
Re: HDM, I love the whole trilogy but the final book, The Amber Spyglass is truly amazing. For me, they helped solidify my "conversion". (After a period of immense struggle with my faith, I put it to the side with a sense of apathy, but still dealt with guilt and fear over having done so; then I read His Dark Materials, and I realised it was okay to not believe, thanks to the story of one character in particular, Dr. Mary Malone.)

Re: Scoundrel Christ.

Also thought this was an amazing book, but it's not for everyone. It's not a "case for atheism", but rather a story about how stories become what they are. As a writer I loved it, and as an atheist I particularly appreciated Pullman's take on the Garden of Gethsemane. However, if you don't know your Bible (the Gospels, rather) very well, a lot of it will be lost on you.
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