It’s the time of year when lots of people are giving lots of gifts. Here are a few books suitable for atheists or people who you think should maybe just understand atheism better.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start with Atheist Voices of Minnesota. I’ll just quote from my own review to tell you why you should share it:
What you won’t find in this book is a lot of philosophy or counter-apologetics or science or anti-theism. Despite having a couple of good-sized names on the cover, what you find here isn’t what you find in most atheist writing. You find stories. Personal stories, small stories, the kind of stories that explain who were are.
These are the kind of stories that build up our own collective mythos, one based in reality. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book that does that. It shouldn’t be the last.
That’s worth sharing.
Or maybe you have someone to buy for who thinks they’ve seen too much of the humanity of atheism. They don’t have to be told that we’re regular human beings with regular emotions. They just want to know why we don’t tone those emotions down out of politeness to all those religious people who are bothered by them.
Even without the picture, you probably know where I’m going here. Get them Greta’s book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless. There is nothing that will more clearly make the case for caring, even in a very angry way.
Then again, you could have a young atheist on your list, someone who still has to deal with school kids and their parents, school administrators and boards, and the push to insert religion everywhere for “their own good”. It doesn’t sound like fun, and it’s not. It adds one more bit of stress in a time when youngsters are supposed to be learning and growing.
It’s both good and bad news that there are lots of young people in the same predicament. Ideally, we don’t want anyone to have to deal with that crap. On the other hand, the company means that no one is in this on their own, even if it feels like it sometimes.
Hemant Mehta’s new book, The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive, is a resource for students in these sorts of binds. It gives solid suggestions for how to deal with all the crap, how to effectively push back, and most of all, how to organize so no atheist student ever has to feel alone again. If you know someone who needs advice for young atheists, you won’t find better.
What’s that? Nonfiction isn’t really your giftee’s thing, or they’re doing just fine as an atheist and want some pure entertainment? We can handle that too.
I’ve talked quite a bit on this blog about the work of my friend Kelly McCullough. I’m going to do it again because he’s one of those fantasy writers who creates worlds in which gods exist but does so without sentimentality and with a real knack for turning myth into personality.
In his WebMage series, Kelly dropped his main character into the middle of a seething mass of Greek gods. They were every bit as capricious and demanding as you would expect if you paid any attention to the mythology. And let’s not even get into the dysfunctional family that is the Norse mythos (or MythOS).
In the Fallen Blade series, he takes this disenchantment with the gods further. At the start of the series, Aral Kingslayer, the main character, is an assassin doing a terrible job of learning to live without his goddess, who has been killed. While the main storylines of the books is detective noir without the misogyny, the overarching questions are whether will successfully manage to find purpose on his own and how he will handle the shades of gray that result from the goddess of justice being dead. It’s a fascinating journey, with resonances for those who have left religion and those who battle the unearned authority of religion.
The third book in this currently open-ended series* is out. None of the books will leave you hanging, but with three, you can really get a feel for how Aral changes as a character over time. That’s as worthwhile as any of the individual stories.
*No, the series won’t be open-ended forever. Yes, I know where it’s going if enough books are published. No, I’m not saying more than that, because the series might not get that far. I can say that I want to read that ending, though, which is part of why I’m promoting the books. Continuation depends on sales.