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  1. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    Readership: Eclectic

    With his unique brand of erudition and wit, Hitchens describes the ways in which religion is man-made. "God did not make us," he says. "We made God." He explains the ways in which religion is immoral: We damage our children by indoctrinating them. It is a cause of sexual repression, violence, and ignorance. It is a distortion of our origins and the cosmos. In the place of religion, Hitchens offers the promise of a new enlightenment through science and reason, a realm in which hope and wonder can be found through a strand of DNA or a gaze through the … (Goodreads)

  2. Letters to a Young Contrarian

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    Readership: Very niche

    From bestselling author and provocateur Christopher Hitchens, the classic guide to the art of principled dissent and disagreement In Letters to a Young Contrarian , bestselling author and world-class provocateur Christopher Hitchens inspires the radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, and angry young (wo)men of tomorrow. Exploring the entire range of "contrary positions"—from noble dissident to gratuitous nag—Hitchens introduces the next generation to the minds and the misfits who influenced him, invoking such mentors as Emile Zola, Rosa Parks, and George Orwell. As is his trademark, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast to stagnant attitudes across the ideological spectrum. No other writer … (Goodreads)

  3. Mortality

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    Readership: Very niche

    On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22 , Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his … (Barnes & Noble)

  4. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    Readership: Very niche

    Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position , Christopher Hitchens's meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa's reputation be judged by her actions-not the other way around. With characteristic elan and rhetorical dexterity, Hitchens eviscerates the fawning cult of Teresa, recasting the Albanian missionary as a … (Goodreads)

  5. The God Delusion

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    A preeminent scientist - and the world's most prominent atheist - asserts the irrationality of belief in God, and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament, to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion, and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. … (Goodreads)

  6. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species , shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through … (Goodreads)

  7. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    Readership: Very niche

    From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of God Is Not Great , a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages with never-before-published pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Christopher Hitchens continues to make the case for a splendidly godless universe in this first-ever gathering of the influential voices--past and present--that have shaped his side of the current (and raging) God/no-god debate. With Hitchens as your erudite and witty guide, you'll be led through a wealth of philosophy, literature, and scientific inquiry, including generous portions of the words of … (Goodreads)

  8. The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

    by Sam Harris
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    Readership: Very niche

    Sam Harris' first book, The End of Faith , ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people - from religious fundamentalists to non-believing scientists - agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious faith. It is also the primary reason why so many secularists and religious moderates feel obligated to "respect" the hardened superstitions of their more devout neighbors. In this explosive new … (Goodreads)

  9. Cosmos

    by Carl Sagan
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Cosmos has 13 heavily illustrated chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. In the book, Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science. The book also discusses the underlying premises of science by providing biographical anecdotes about many prominent scientists throughout history, placing their contributions into the broader context of the development of modern science. The book covers a broad range of topics, comprising Sagan's reflections on anthropological, … (Goodreads)

  10. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

    by Sam Harris
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    Readership: Eclectic

    In The End of Faith , Sam Harris delivers a startling analysis of the clash between reason and religion in the modern world. He offers a vivid, historical tour of our willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs—even when these beliefs inspire the worst human atrocities. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism to deliver a call for a truly modern foundation for ethics and spirituality that is both secular and humanistic. Winner of the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. … (Goodreads)

  11. Homage to Catalonia

    by George Orwell
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    Readership: Eclectic

    In 1936 George Orwell travelled to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s own experiences. Introduction by Lionel Trilling. … (Goodreads)

  12. Letter to a Christian Nation

    by Sam Harris
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    Readership: Eclectic

    In response to The End of Faith , Sam Harris received thousands of letters from Christians excoriating him for not believing in God. Letter to A Christian Nation is his reply. Using rational argument, Harris offers a measured refutation of the beliefs that form the core of fundamentalist Christianity. In the course of his argument, he addresses current topics ranging from intelligent design and stem-cell research to the connections between religion and violence. In Letter to a Christian Nation , Sam Harris boldly challenges the influence that faith has on public life in our nation. … (Goodreads)

  13. Down and Out in Paris and London

    by George Orwell
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    Readership: Eclectic

    This unusual fictional memoir - in good part autobiographical - narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-outs of two great cities. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as dishwasher, or plongeur. In London, while waiting for a job, he experiences the world of tramps, street people, and free lodging houses. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and of society. … (Goodreads)

  14. A Short History of Nearly Everything

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself … (Goodreads)

  15. Infidel

    by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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    Readership: Eclectic

    One of today’s most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened that she would be next. She made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and resigned from the Dutch Parliament. Infidel shows the coming of age of this distinguished political superstar and champion of free speech as well as the development of her beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice. Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a … (Goodreads)

  16. The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Very niche

    The renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. As the pilgrimage progresses, we join with other organisms at the forty "rendezvous points" where we find a common ancestor. The band of pilgrims swells into a vast crowd as we join first with other primates, then with other mammals, and so on back … (Barnes & Noble)

  17. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Very niche

    Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It … (Goodreads)

  18. Meditations

    by Marcus Aurelius
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Written in Greek by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection that has been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and readers throughout the centuries. … (Goodreads)

  19. Free Will

    by Sam Harris
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    Readership: Very niche

    Belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion. In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some … (Goodreads)

  20. Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Very niche

    Keats accused Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by explaining the origin of its colours. In this illuminating and provocative book, Richard Dawkins argues that Keats could not have been more mistaken, and shows how an understanding of science enhances our wonder of the world. He argues that mysteries do not lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution is often more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering even deeper mysteries. Dawkins takes up the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, combining them in a landmark statement … (Goodreads)