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









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And I could never get past the idea that the descendants of Adam and Eve, that is their children, would have had to have bred incestuously to keep the line going

Even more mysterious is that Cain and Abel found wives??? Just where did these ladies come from? Was there another creation going on somewhere over in Canaan? Or, did the magic sky guy conjure up a couple of girls and didn't tell us?
Inquiring minds want to kn.....uh.... actual we don't really give a shit.
Inherit the Wind - led me to agnosticsm, but what's funny is podcasts turned me to atheism.

Books I love are Atheist Universe by ??? (can't remember right now) and Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman
I see many excellent suggestions here. However, I find that I must also take time to laugh at the idiocy which is religion. If you don't mind crude humor and snarky commentary, you may like "Does God Get Diarrhea?" by Odin Zeus McGaffer. It's a fun read, which had me grinning from ear to ear from the very first page. :)
The Unholy in the Holy Bible, I think, by Gerd Ludemann. It is actually fairly interesting, although sometimes I got bored and would read the same sentence seven times.
I know I'm not the first to say it, but reading the Bible. I started reading the Bible as a Christian and finished reading it as an Atheist. You can only take so much of that bullshit before you finally realize how ridiculous it all is...
Right on, Nick. There are, admittedly, some pretty patches in Psalms but most of it is barren, boring and nonsensical.
Existentialism and Humanism.

Sartre's lecture. First of all the humanist ethic, well it appealed didn't it?

But here's a line in it: somethgin about "those who are religious I shall call scum."

Well it's memorable becuase it was possibly the first commentary I'd read where religion was not only openly attacked and in such terms. I don't think it had ever occurred to me before then that one could be hostile and rejectionist as oppose merely ambivalent and agnostic.

Wheels began to spin from then on.....
Yeah, Satre did it for me, too.

Glad I'm not the only one.
When I was around 17 I got hold of the complete works of Robert Ingersol and read the entire set of books. Although I was already an Atheist, Ingersol put the lid on the jar for me - he was a brilliant writer. His entire works are avalible free online.
Thanks for that, Jim. Just had a glance and am looking forward to delving deeeper into Ingersol.


I don't want to sound like a 'low-brow', in fact I'm reasonably well-read - Dawkins, Hitchens, Becket, Sartre, Orwell and a few others mentioned here. But I'd like to point out that my espousal of atheism started in my early teens as a reaction to the blinkered thinking of my Sunday School teachers, rather than any books I read, and my own faltering attempts to communicate with the Great One.

I think my epiphany occurred when I asked God to fix a puncture on my bike while I was on my morning paper route. I didn't have a puncture kit and I was a timid, bookish child and terrified of being late for school. I was in tears. I remember my exact words. 'Please, please God, don't let it be a puncture, just a flat tyre. I'll do all my homework. I'll love you forever.' He just ignored me. Bad PR, God, you coulda had me there.

As for reading the Bible, Steve W, I gave up when I was nine. Didn't even make it to Noah. It was the KJV and after plowing through several chapters of 'Jehosophat begat Japh and Japh begat Jephat' or something like that, I came to the conclusion 'This sucks' and went back to Captain Marvel. Our preacher even used to talk like that. 'O Lord we beseech thee, in thy infinite wisdom and grace ...' etc. As if God would not understand 20th century language. I wanted to point this out to him, but as I said, I was too timid to challenge my elders on such matters.

But I must say the quaintness of 16th century language made the scriptures appear somehow unworldly and impractical ('The Pharisees wagged their heads wisely' - huh?) and helped to turn me off. It was useful for studying Shakespeare later on, but now whenever a satirical comedian breaks into this old-fashioned 'Godspeak' it just cracks me up. Rowan Atkinson and the Monty Python team spring to mind.

I'm quite content with a working knowledge of the Bible from the children's stories I've read and the diligent research of atheist scholars, some of whom I encounter here on the Nexus, and I'm amazed at their patience. I wouldn't recommend that 2000-page dark, turgid, contradictory book to anyone. The absurdities of its doctrines are clear enough from page one.

Enough rant. A lot of interesting books recommended on this blog, and thanks to all you highly literate folks for the tips.




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