Back to School Atheist Book Haul

First of all, I just got engaged this week! I love my fiancé with all of my heart and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him!

A lot has happened this week, because I also moved back in for my last year of college. This might sound strange, but I have been really excited to move back to this Christian school because it means I can be more openly myself as an atheist than I can living in my mother’s house in the summer.

Probably the biggest reason I’ve been looking forward so much to living on my own again is that I can actually have and read my books on atheism. When I’m living with my mom, my fiancé keeps my eight (so far) unholy books hidden away at his apartment.


Here are the atheism books that I have so far, as well as a few notes on each:

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson
What can I say? I appreciate the satire.

The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, annotated by Steve Wells
I first found out about the SAB in Hament Mehta’s video of atheist book recommendations. Although I don’t think it’s necessary, atheists (and theists, obviously; well, really everyone…) are encouraged to read the bible at least once. When the time comes that I decide to give it a thorough read, I definitely want it to be this version which includes notes of every inconsistency, moral problem, atrocity, and the like, in its pages.

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
Along with The God Delusion, God is Not Great is currently one of the most popular atheist books, so it’s an essential for any secular book collection.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been “reading” this book for a long time. I read it a lot last year at college, but I had a hard time reading it at home because I would try to wait until after everyone was asleep to read it, at which point I was also too tired to read. (If you want to know, I’ve finished his arguments for naturalism through evolution and am on the chapter about memes, which I put down a few months ago and never picked back up.) I’m not that good at picking up a book and actually reading the whole thing; I have more of a habit of hoarding books to line my shelves, hence the unread collection being outlined in this post.

Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye
This, along with The Magic of Reality and The Origin of Species, was a Valentine’s Day gift from my fiancé this year! We had just seen the Nye-Ham debate so it was definitely a good choice! Sometime I’d also like to get Ken Ham’s book reacting to the debate; he always has something interesting to say on topics of origins.

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
These two books address some of the most popular arguments against atheism, both of which pertain to origins and the argument from design. Although I have yet to read them (as with all of my books save for a couple), I look forward to it because they will better equip me for arguments targeting some of atheism’s greatest perceived weaknesses.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
This was another Valentine’s Day gift from my fiancé! I know it’s not as well-known as a lot of Dawkins’ other books (see above), but I’m interested to see him talk more about science and less about religious criticism, which shockingly isn’t actually his strong suit.

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Unlike a lot of the other books on my shelf and wish list, The Origin of Species isn’t one that I actually plan on reading. I’m not quite scientifically fluent, and from what I’ve heard, you have to be if you plan to read this classic scientific masterpiece.

Even though I didn’t have these books with me at home, that doesn’t mean I don’t read at all. You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote a review of Francis Collins’ The Language of God, which is one of my Christian books that I was able to keep at home without being overly suspicious. Here’s my mother-approved bookshelf:

holy books
(I also have Mere Christianity and some other books for the apologetics class I’m about to start!)

The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years by Ken Ham
I probably shouldn’t have spent money on this, but I found it in a used bookstore and couldn’t pass it up. To be honest, I like to have books that discuss and argue the God debate for both sides, plus it would be interesting to read an entire book on how Ham defends his hostile stance against secularism and evolution.

The Language of God by Francis Collins
This book is actually a textbook for a different section than what I was in, of a required class at my college called Science and Religion. I must say that I would have appreciated if my teacher had taught with this! I enjoyed Collins’ writing and the way that even though he is a Christian, he truly values science and its value in understanding the natural world. Click here to read my full review of The Language of God.

Origins by Deborah and Loren Haarsma
This is the textbook that my Science and Religion class actually used. I suppose I can’t complain that it’s not as good as The Language of God, though, because I never actually read it (don’t worry, I did just fine in the class). I was going to sell it, but something about how similar it seemed to my other books made me decide to keep it on my shelf instead.

Why I am a Lutheran by Daniel Preus
This is a book that I just found which belongs to my mother! The title itself intrigued me, as I have such a personal grudge against the Lutheran Church and the way that it has affected my life. I’m genuinely curious on why my whole family is Lutheran so I decided it was worth snagging. Knowing how apathetic I am toward the faith, however, my mom was really confused when I was so enthusiastic about borrowing this book. I think she would be surprised to know just how interested in religion I am!

Can I Trust the Bible? by Howard Vos
I found this book in the same shop as The Lie. I’m going to guess that I could save myself the reading, knowing that it will come to the conclusion that yes, I can trust the bible. I couldn’t help but buy it, though, because it was old (published in 1963) and had that old book feel and smell to it.

How to Stay Christian in College by J. Budziszewski
Part of the reason that I have this book is because of sheer irony. It’s meant mostly for Christian students at secular colleges trying not to lose their faith, and of course I’m an atheist at a Christian college trying not to lose my mind from an overload of religion. I found it in my older sister’s bookshelf (not the pastor’s wife, the other one; she attended a secular college but is still very Christian of course, although not married to an LCMS Lutheran man!). It has in it a sheet of notes from a bible study that mentions something about how God’s Word is more important than food… Anyways, I’ve read bits and pieces of this book, and honestly I can’t stand it. It teaches students to not question what they’ve always been taught at a time in their life when they are surrounded by so many opportunities to be skeptical and take science classes with great professors and make friends with people with all different religious views.

I do have a lot of great books yet to read from my own shelf, but as I said before, I have a problem with buying more books even when I haven’t read what I have. That being said, I organize my atheist book wish list using Thrift Books because I share an Amazon account with my whole family, and I don’t want books on why God doesn’t exist showing up in Pastor-in-Law’s recommended items or in my mom’s recent orders. Also, books on Thrift Books are almost always used and at really amazing prices (usually $4 per book), plus free shipping and lots of other chances for discounts, so I think it’s cheaper than Amazon anyway.

Over the summer, in anticipation of finally getting my own atheism books back and being able to order more, I accumulated a wish list of about 35 books I wanted, which included many from atheists and many from Christians. Here are the books from that list that I ended up ordering!

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell
The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens and various authors
Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett
Atheism: A Reader by S.T. Joshi and various authors

I found a lot of these books through this video by CosmicSkeptic, which I would recommend to anyone looking for atheism- or science-related books to read.

I’m so excited to get all of my new atheist books! I hope to write new review posts after I finish each one. What are some of your favorites? Do you have anything on your wish list, or have you read any of the books that I have? Let me know in the comments!

35 Replies to “Back to School Atheist Book Haul”

  1. First of all, congratulations on your engagement, and I wish you and your fiance all the best.

    I just want to comment on one thing in The God Delusion. The meme argument is not important for Dawkins’ overall argument. Memes are based on an analogy on genes. Genes are the unit of inheritance, and memes by analogy are the unit of cultural inheritance. They can be a concept, a rhyme, a picture, or anything that gets moved around the social sphere. However, genes are a physical entity, and so far nobody to my knowledge has found any specific unit other than vague ideas based on the analogy with the gene.

    It is easy to claim that religions are memes. But, then the analogy moves on to that of the virus. Religions are infectious memes. Genes of themselves are not infectious. They can get inserted into a genome or transferred between bacteria, but this not a true infection. Viruses are compose of a number of genes. But, without their coating of proteins that are dictated by their genes, viruses would not be capable of infecting the cells that they do. So, the virus analogy does not seem so good either.

    I have no issues with calling religions a social phenomenon or that they act as if they infect individuals, but to use the terms (meme or virus) other than as metaphors is just not supported by well carried out scientific research, so the people that use these terms as if they are valid entities are not doing themselves or others justice for what is the truth, as if that would make the notion that religions in some cases can be dangerous more valid. It does not need this type of validity to see the harm that religions can cause. These are facts about the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lol I find it funny you have a book called ‘How to stay Christian in college’. Seeing as you aren’t a Christian in a Christian college I’m guessing the book isn’t very effective? 😉 If I can check out that book for free somewhere I might give it a read out of curiosity (not sure if it’s worth parting money to).

    Congrats on your engagement! I wish you guys the very best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, I think that’s so funny! It made more since for my older sister who had it when she was a Christian in a secular college. Maybe you could find it used so that you don’t have to actually support the work (that’s how I got the Ken Ham book). Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read a few of these earlier this year, including The God Delusion, and the Bertrand Russell was groundbreaking for me. The most recent one I finished was god is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens, which was excellent if you’d like a specific examination of the damage religion does (that’s my biggest issue with it. I wouldn’t really care what nonsense people choose to believe if it weren’t also fucking everything up for the rest of us). I haven’t read any Sam Harris yet, but I started listening to his podcast and am enjoying it so far. I actually just brought home The Magic of Reality, too, from the library book sale—shockingly, I never seem to have much competition for the atheist books in my North Texas community.

    Except for the fact that I can’t imagine ever again forcing myself to read the Bible, I would kind of love to read this annotated version. Maybe just a skim through someday, to let myself laugh at the inane things I used to believe. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oddly enough, I got engaged just last month. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s definitely crazy/scary/exciting/intense feeling to agree to marry a fellow human! (And weirdly, it also doubles as the best analogy for my relationship with religion) Congrats to you both!

    I see you’re digging into three of the four “New Atheists” (are they Old yet?). I would definitely recommend some Daniel Dennett, too. I got the aufiobook version of his Consciousness Explained, which develops a sketch of a materialistic theory of consciousness (which is no small feat in my mind – get it?!! mind…. sorry.). The cool thing about aufiobooks for me is that I can work them into my life without slowing down my reading of physical books; I just listen when I’m walking or driving around. Maybe that would work for you?


    1. Wow, congratulations! It is kind of crazy to be engaged, but we’ve been together for so long (since high school) that it’s about time.

      I actually did snag one Dennett book–Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. I wanted to have one from each “horseman”! And audiobooks definitely sound like something to look into. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “First of all, I just got engaged this week! I love my fiancé with all of my heart and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him!”
    Awesome, I’m glad you’ve found the one. I wish you two a good life together

    “Also, books on Thrift Books are almost always used and at really amazing prices (usually $4 per book), plus free shipping and lots of other chances for discounts, so I think it’s cheaper than Amazon anyway.”
    I’ll have to look into using that instead. Thanks!

    “Over the summer, in anticipation of finally getting my own atheism books back and being able to order more, I accumulated a wish list of about 35 books I wanted, which included many from atheists and many from Christians. Here are the books from that list that I ended up ordering!”
    Hope you enjoy the reads! A Letter to a Christian nation sounds rather interesting, I’m interested to hear what all is expressed in it.

    Personally I enjoyed The Curates Awakening by George MacDonald and Miracles by C S Lewis. I’m also in the middle of Robert Falconer which I’m really enjoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, i’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I mist say it is well written and just a great read when I need one. Congratulations on your engagement and I hope to be able to read one or two one day!


  7. I’ve read a lot of the books on your list, and own several. I’d recommend “Why are you Atheists so Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless” by Greta Christina. Also one that might surprise you: “Atheism for Dummies”. It sounds like it would be terrible, but it’s by Dale McGowan (of Parenting Beyond Belief) and he knows his stuff.


  8. “The Christian Delusion,” edited by John Loftus is an excellent book, as are the two books on atheism by David Eller and the Atheist Manifesto buy Michel Onfray. If you need a subscription to one magazine, I’d recommend “Free Inquiry” along with the very well-written and edited monthly publication of the freedom from Religion Foundation.
    You are definitely way ahead of your classmates, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If you don’t want anyone to see what you are reading, use a ebook like Kindle or iBooks. Not completely secret, but not obvious either. I will probably look into reading some of your choices. So much to read, so little time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah, a fellow book hoarder. I’ve had to strip a few darlings off my shelves to sell, and have a few of those you mentioned on the shelf. Definitely Bill Nye’s, but maybe some of the others (have a pretty strict reading list right now). Haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait.

    Anyhoo, congrats on the engagement and all–be good and hugs to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This might sound strange, but I have been really excited to move back to this Christian school because it means I can be more openly myself as an atheist than I can living in my mother’s house in the summer.

    It isn’t really strange, except in a superficial sense.

    You’ve reached the age where you need to make your own way in life. So you need to separate yourself from your parents. This isn’t really a Christian/atheist kind of thing. It’s a growing up kind of thing. And your Christian college already gives you enough of that separation.

    And, of course, the separation from your parents does not need to be permanent. However, as an independent adult, your relation with your parents needs to be different from what it was as a child. And a period of separation helps in the realignment of that relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We have so many of the same books to read!

    I read The Portable Atheist last year. It is great for including a lot of people outside of the well-known sceptics and for offering some of the older, more difficult to read ones, in manageable chunks. If anything though, it will make you want to get complete copies of those other writers, like Hume. I read Why I am Not a Christian not too long ago, it has a lot to recommend it too (I’ve put a review up somewhere on my blog). Written in a different era, it deals with different issues.

    If you’d like to read Dawkins writing about science, and aren’t too scientifically fluent, The Ancestors Tale is a great one to read. Jerry Coyne (author of Why Evolution is True) is of the opinion that people should not read The Origin of the Species in its original form, because of its 19th century style, and should instead read modern annotated versions.

    Letter to a Christian Nation is a great little book. It packs a lot of punch for something that can be read in a lunch break.

    Liked by 2 people

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