Black Sun Bookshelf

The following books have helped me on my journey away from religion, spirituality, dualism, and personal repression. Some have helped provide me with an orientation and a framework for scientific naturalism, individualistic humanism, and ethical hedonism. Others have put me in touch with caring for the planet and a passionate embrace of the goals of sustainability. People often remark that atheism and humanism are devoid of meaning and ethics. Nothing could be further from the truth. I challenge anyone to study the books on this list and come away without a strong sense of meaning, awe, and wonder toward this fascinating journey we call life.

Any list or compilation suffers from omission–and this list will continue to grow. There are many more books I could include going as far back as childhood, and will add them as time permits. The sci-fi collection alone would number in the hundreds. Also missing are the many classics I’ve read. These would be read by anyone taking a basic college literature program, so it seems kind of silly to list them again. Presence on this list obviously does not imply my agreement with the world view of all authors or the endorsement of the content of their books. Only that I found material which educated me further and sharpened my skills.

Out of these, my top five, which are an absolute “must-read” for any deconverting theist are:

  1. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan
  2. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Steven Pinker
  3. The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
  4. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel Dennett
  5. The Age of Spiritual Machines : When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, Ray Kurzweil

If you can read and understand all five of these and still possess ontotheological god-belief, hat’s off to you, your brain is beyond repair. Now, on to the full list:

Science

  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  • The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel Dennett
  • The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
  • Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us, Rodney Brooks
  • The Age of Spiritual Machines : When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, Ray Kurzweil
  • The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology, Ray Kurzweil
  • Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Francis Fukuyama
  • Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever, Ray Kurzweil, Terry Grossman
  • The Emotion Machine, Marvin Minsky

Fiction

  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

Science-Fiction

  • Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  • 2150 A.D., Thea Alexander
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  • Anthem, Ayn Rand

Non-Fiction

  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens
  • 400 Years of Imaginary Friends, Kenneth and Talita Paolini
  • 102 Minutes : The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers, Jim Dwyer, Kevin Flynn
  • The Church Universal and Triumphant: Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s Apocalyptic Movement, Bradley C. Whitsel
  • I Sold My Soul on eBay: Viewing Faith through an Atheist’s Eyes, Hemant Mehta

Biography/Autobiography

  • Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, Neil Peart
  • American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story, Cynthia True
  • Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah

Psychology/Evolutionary Psychology

  • The Red Queen, Matt Ridley
  • The God Part of the Brain, Matthew Alper
  • Why God Won’t Go Away, Andrew Newberg
  • The Tyranny of Magical Thinking, Serban
  • The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Steven Pinker
  • Loose Ends : Primary Papers in Archetypal Psychology, James Hillman
  • The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, David M. Buss

Pharmacology

  • Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, Jeremy Narby
  • The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space, John C. Lilly
  • Breaking Open the Head, Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, Jacob Sullum

Philosophy

  • Truth: A Guide, Simon Blackburn
  • South Park and Philosophy, Richard Hanley
  • The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene

Sexuality

  • Philosophy in the Boudoir, Marquis de Sade
  • Venus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
  • The Story of O, Pauline Reage, et al
  • Against Love: A Polemic, Laura Kipnis
  • The Future of Love: The Power of the Soul in Intimate Relationships, Daphne Rose Kingma
  • The Sexual Life of Catherine M, Catherine Millet
  • The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt
  • Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex, Judith Levine, Joycelyn M. Elders
  • Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism, Philip Miller and Molly Devon
  • The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Tristan Taormino

Politics

  • Natural Capitalism, Amory Lovins
  • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Sam Harris
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris
  • World Politics: Trend and Transformation, Charles W. Kegley, Eugene R. Wittkopf
  • Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, Noam Chomsky
  • Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance, Noam Chomsky
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Anonymous
  • The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few…, James Surowiecki
  • The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman

Energy Transition

  • Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Matthew Simmons
  • The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Richard Heinberg
  • The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler