The most recommended books on atheism

Who picked these books? Meet our 43 experts.

43 authors created a book list connected to atheism, and here are their favorite atheism books.
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Book cover of Is God a Delusion?

Mark Alpert Author Of Saint Joan of New York: A Novel about God and String Theory

From my list on to help you decide if God exists.

Who am I?

I should make it clear that I have no religious agenda. I’m not a believer, but I’m not a committed atheist either. For ten years, I was an editor at Scientific American. During that time, we were diligent about exposing the falsehoods of “intelligent design” proponents who claimed to see God’s hand in the fashioning of complex biological structures such as the human eye. But in 2008 I left journalism to write fiction. I wrote an international bestseller about Albert Einstein (Final Theory). I wrote a trilogy of Young Adult novels about teenagers who become robots (The Six). And ideas about God kept popping up in my books.

Mark's book list on to help you decide if God exists

Mark Alpert Why did Mark love this book?

Philosopher Eric Reitan offers a spirited rebuttal to Dawkins by arguing that belief in God isn’t necessarily irrational or harmful. In particular, Reitan defends the progressive faiths that are based on universal love rather than sectarian division and superstition. I especially enjoyed Reitan’s discussion of atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, who compared religious faith to a belief in the existence of a “celestial teapot” that travels around the sun in an orbit so distant that it could never be observed by telescope. You can’t disprove its existence, but doesn’t it seem ludicrous? Can you explain how it got there?   

By Eric Reitan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Is God a Delusion? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is God a Delusion? addresses the philosophical underpinnings of the recent proliferation of popular books attacking religious beliefs. Winner of CHOICE 2009 Outstanding Academic Title Award Focuses primarily on charges leveled by recent critics that belief in God is irrational and that its nature ferments violence Balances philosophical rigor and scholarly care with an engaging, accessible style Offers a direct response to the crop of recent anti-religion bestsellers currently generating considerable public discussion


Book cover of Outgrowing God: A Beginner's Guide

Keith Heyer Meldahl Author Of Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

From Keith's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Geologist Professor Outdoors-person Musician Nature-lover

Keith's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Keith Heyer Meldahl Why did Keith love this book?

Richard Dawkins, celebrated science communicator and avowed atheist, has struck a great blow for reason with this guide for young and old.

In a dozen provocative essays, he explains how the natural world arose without design or intention; there is no need to invoke God. Indeed, nature becomes simultaneously more understandable, marvelous, and awe-inspiring when we recognize the power of natural forces to shape life. To me, miracles seem trite and boring compared to the realities that science has revealed.    

By Richard Dawkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Outgrowing God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Should we believe in God? In this new book, written for a new generation, the brilliant science writer and author of The God Delusion, explains why we shouldn't.

Should we believe in God? Do we need God in order to explain the existence of the universe? Do we need God in order to be good? In twelve chapters that address some of the most profound questions human beings confront, Dawkins marshals science, philosophy and comparative religion to interrogate the hypocrisies of all the religious systems and explain to readers of all ages how life emerged without a Creator, how evolution…


Book cover of A Fine White Dust

Caroline Starr Rose Author Of Miraculous

From my list on mysterious strangers.

Who am I?

I write books to make sense of the world  — this gloriously weird, sometimes heartbreaking, marvelous place we call home. Years ago, while visiting a museum in St. Louis, I heard a woman give a talk on charlatans (people who intentionally deceive others for their personal gain). It sparked a number of questions in me: Why do we believe the things that we do? What might we be willing to try to change our circumstances? Exploring these ideas was the starting point for my book, Miraculous, and its mysterious stranger, Dr. Kingsbury. I hope the stories you read in these pages fill you wonder as they did me.

Caroline's book list on mysterious strangers

Caroline Starr Rose Why did Caroline love this book?

Pete’s whole life changes the summer the Preacher Man comes to town. Hearing the Man speak fills Pete with purpose. No one understands Pete like the Preacher Man — neither Pete’s parents, who no longer attend church, nor his best friend, who is an atheist — and Pete will do anything to hold fast to his devotion.

I read this short, deceptively simple book twice while working on Miraculous. It is an honest look at the longings and purpose so many of us search for, the power a persuasive individual can have, and the flaws that make us all human. I’ll never forget this book.

By Cynthia Rylant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fine White Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of The Soul of Anna Klane

Christian Hugo Hoffmann Author Of The Quest for a Universal Theory of Intelligence: The Mind, the Machine, and Singularity Hypotheses

From my list on making sense of the I in AI.

Who am I?

I embarked on this arduous journey of making sense of the I in AI while working as an Assistant Professor of Finance, which, however, began to look increasingly uninteresting and oppressive. With this innovative endeavor, I return home to philosophy. Apart from being passionate about AI in academia, I’m a tech entrepreneur by heart with three software start-ups in Germany, Switzerland, and Malawi under my belt. Moreover, I served as Deputy Director of and Head of AI at the Swiss Fintech Innovation Lab in Zurich, as Director of Startup Grind Geneva, and I continue to fulfill my role as start-up coach/judge and mentor in various startup programs.

Christian's book list on making sense of the I in AI

Christian Hugo Hoffmann Why did Christian love this book?

If there were only five things I could bring to an island to live on, Terrel Miedaner’s deeply thought-provoking fiction book The Soul of Anna Klane would be among those five items.

His book is on a question which is more fundamental than the one on the I in AI. The Soul of Anna Klane ponders the many sides of the question of what constitutes life and consciousness: the scientific, the atheistic, and the religious with due respect.

It showed me how little we know about the brain, mind, and soul. And if we don’t understand the center of human intelligence, how can we make sense of the I in AI? Undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read. For this reason, it would be on an island where I only possess five things so that I’m not distracted from reading it again and again. The effect would…

By Terrel Miedaner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of Anna Klane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

God bless sweet Anna's soul...

She's the golden darling of a wealthy genius. A child-prodigy. Yogi adept. And dying of brain tumor. She wants to heal herself, but the courts and the doctors cry "no" - and enter her brain with an incredible million-dollar probe that cures her body, while it splits her soul -- and sends it hurtling into a psychic hell...

Only Anatol Klane knows of his daughter's spirit-death. Now he must take her life... and convince an astonished world that he has set her free...


Book cover of Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

Sara Lipton Author Of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography

From my list on medieval religious history.

Who am I?

I was raised in a Jewish but completely secular family, with no religious traditions or affiliations. Perhaps because religion was so exotic, I have always found it fascinating. In college, I gravitated toward topics in medieval religion, which crystallized the strangeness of an era both earthy and intensely devout. I wanted to understand why an Anglo-Saxon monk sitting in a cold monastery in northern England cared so much about biblical history. Or how Saint Bernard could so relentlessly hound a fellow monk over a scholarly treatise, yet also work energetically to protect Jews from violence. I can't say I'll ever fully comprehend the force of religion, but I love trying.

Sara's book list on medieval religious history

Sara Lipton Why did Sara love this book?

Augustine's Confessions is an extraordinary book, but it is not always an easy one! Readers looking for help in understanding its brilliant author can do no better than to turn to Peter Brown's biography, first published in 1967. It is a beautifully written, lucid, and illuminating study of Augustine's life and thought, the best possible guide to both the man and his world. In an Epilogue added for the forty-fifth-anniversary edition, Brown discusses what he and other scholars have learned in the decades since he first wrote the book, and how his ideas about Augustine have changed, demonstrating the curiosity and openness that are the hallmarks of a great scholar.

By Peter Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Augustine of Hippo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic biography was first published forty-five years ago and has since established itself as the standard account of Saint Augustine's life and teaching.


Book cover of The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible

Chris Wind Author Of Thus Saith Eve

From my list on critical of religion's view of women.

Who am I?

This collection started when I had to take a course on Milton as part of my Literature degree program. It didn't make any sense to me blame Eve for the downfall of Man. (I hadn't yet developed much of a feminist consciousness and so didn't realize that women are always blamed... perhaps especially by men, perhaps especially for their own—i.e., men's—behaviour...) "I am Eve" (the first piece in the collection) is actually based on my term paper. After I graduated, I decided to go through the Bible to see who else needed to protest... 

Chris' book list on critical of religion's view of women

Chris Wind Why did Chris love this book?

Although the scope of this book is broader than the title of my book list, Green does have a chapter dedicated to "Treatment of Women in the Sweetest Story Ever Told." I believe, like she did, that an almost sure way to atheism is to actually read The Bible – which she did while convalescing from cancer in the 1970s). Two years later, she wrote this book in her 60s.  

By Ruth Hurmence Green,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Born Again Skeptic's Guide To The Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Bible examined from a freethought perspective. Combined with autobiographical "The Book of Ruth."


Book cover of Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

Alec Ryrie Author Of Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt

From my list on atheism and religion.

Who am I?

I’m a recovering atheist: a Christian convert who has more sympathy with some of my former atheist brethren than with a lot of my fellow believers. And I’m a historian by trade, which means I believe in the importance of trying to get inside the heads of people living in very different times – but who were still people. I’ve chosen polemical books by atheists and by believers, but in my own writing I try to get sympathetically inside the heads of both. I find that I get on better if I listen to the other side rather than banging the drum for my own – whichever ‘my own side’ is.

Alec's book list on atheism and religion

Alec Ryrie Why did Alec love this book?

The anti-John Gray – and, in purely literary terms, the best writer on my list, which is saying something. It’s not, Francis Spufford says, an apologetic, a reasoned defence of faith. It’s a personal account of why his Christianity makes emotional sense to him, and why it might make emotional sense to other people too. Worth reading for his retelling of the life of Jesus alone. He doesn’t deal with the intellectual questions of religion vs. atheism (though he has some sly hints). What he does is explain why you might want to deal with those questions. So it’s an ‘unapologetic’: both, because it’s about emotion and not narrow reason, and also, he says, because he’s not sorry. Read it, and you won’t be either.

By Francis Spufford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unapologetic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Unapologetic" is a brief, witty, personal, sharp-tongued defence of Christian belief, taking on Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great". But it isn't an argument that Christianity is true - because how could anyone know that (or indeed its opposite)? It's an argument that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the bits of our lives advertising agencies prefer to ignore. It's a book for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious…


Book cover of The Bible Handbook

Jass Richards Author Of The Blasphemy Tour

From my list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods.

Who am I?

I was raised to be a Roman Catholic. I was not raised to think very deeply, but I did anyway. Eventually.  When I was around fifteen, I started asking questions that irritated my parents. They referred me to our priest. Who basically patted me on the head and showed me the door. When the Pope said 'no contraception,' the shit really hit the fan. I haven't looked back. And I'm quite vocal about it because, damn it, religious beliefs and religions do damage, not the least of which involves hurting and killing people. (As for being funny, that's just icing on the cake.)

Jass' book list on that dare to make fun of religion and/or gods

Jass Richards Why did Jass love this book?

Published by the American Atheist Press, this isn't really a funny book, but since contradictions and absurdities figure prominently throughout the book, I'm listing it here. Next time anyone starts to defend their faith, give them a copy of this book. I'm sure some of what's in my own book was inspired by this book.

By W. P. Ball, G. W. Foote,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bible Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No bible-thumping missionary will ever be safe on your doorstep again! This book includes devastating evidence needed to prove the "Holy Bible" is actually wholly babble.


Book cover of On Beauty

Janice Weizman Author Of Our Little Histories

From my list on family dramas in a multi-generational perspective.

Who am I?

For me, writing fiction is a way of tackling issues of fate and identity through storytelling. I believe we’re each the result of an intersection between personality and history and I’m interested in the way our time and place impacts us and creates a backdrop for our lives. My first novel, The Wayward Moon, is historical fiction set in the 9th-century Middle East. My second novel follows a Jewish family back six generations to Belarus. But no matter what period I’m writing about, the most important thing is always to tell a good story.

Janice's book list on family dramas in a multi-generational perspective

Janice Weizman Why did Janice love this book?

Smith is a master at depicting multi-racial families (something she knows all about, as she grew up in one).

Her narratives take up the complex nature of the relationships between parents, children, and siblings, while delving into issues of race, class, politics, infidelity, and self-knowledge. Smith is expert with her use of voice, as she composes character through idiosyncratic styles of language and expression.

Life in this novel is colorful and messy, as it cleverly investigates the impossibility of really knowing those closest to you.

By Zadie Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked On Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

SUNDAY TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER

From the acclaimed author of Swing Time, White Teeth and Grand Union, discover a brilliantly funny and deeply moving story about love and family

Why do we fall in love with the people we do? Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful?

Set between New England and London, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families - the Belseys and the Kipps - and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high…


Book cover of Becoming Atheist: Humanism and the Secular West

Alec Ryrie Author Of Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt

From my list on atheism and religion.

Who am I?

I’m a recovering atheist: a Christian convert who has more sympathy with some of my former atheist brethren than with a lot of my fellow believers. And I’m a historian by trade, which means I believe in the importance of trying to get inside the heads of people living in very different times – but who were still people. I’ve chosen polemical books by atheists and by believers, but in my own writing I try to get sympathetically inside the heads of both. I find that I get on better if I listen to the other side rather than banging the drum for my own – whichever ‘my own side’ is.

Alec's book list on atheism and religion

Alec Ryrie Why did Alec love this book?

Callum Brown is a card-carrying humanist and one of the greatest (and most combative) historians of modern secularism. This book’s concept is very simple: he’s conducted 85 in-depth interviews with self-identified atheists in Europe and the United States about how they got that way, how they understand their world and construct their values, and how they relate to the religions that some of them used to embrace. I think his celebration of these good people blinds him to the very particular historical processes at work here, but I challenge anyone to read this book and not acknowledge that our world has profoundly changed in the past half-century.

By Callum G. Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Atheist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Western World is becoming atheist. In the space of three generations churchgoing and religious belief have become alien to millions. We are in the midst of one of humankind's great cultural changes. How has this happened?

Becoming Atheist explores how people of the sixties' generation have come to live their lives as if there is no God. It tells the life narratives of those from Britain, Western Europe, the United States and Canada who came from Christian, Jewish and other backgrounds to be without faith. Based on interviews with 85 people born in 18 countries, Callum Brown shows how…