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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Atheism in Literature: 20 Must-Read Books for Skeptics

I'm not one to read much atheist literature. It's not that I don't think it has something to offer, it's just that I've been an atheist my whole life, never religious, so it's just never been a huge topic in my life outside of my blog. However, I have read some books either because some of you have sent your own books to me or because they stood out to me. Below are the best of those books. They are must-reads for lifer atheists and ex-religious atheists alike.



I have to start with a bit of a disclaimer, though. Many of these authors are polarizing figures who have said and done things I absolutely do not condone. My inclusion of their books in this list is not an endorsement of their views, beliefs, and behaviors. The texts below have been included precisely because I think the books themselves are really great resources for atheists.




Dr. Winell coined the term "religious trauma syndrome" and her book is an essential guide for anyone grappling with the challenges of leaving their religious upbringing. It provides insights into the psychological impacts of religious indoctrination and offers strategies for rebuilding a life grounded in secularism and rationality.




Sasha Sagan celebrates the beauty and wonder of the natural world in this enchanting book. It’s a lyrical exploration of finding meaning and joy in life's milestones without relying on religious doctrine, inspired by her father, Carl Sagan's legacy.




Hitchens delivers a biting critique of religion, asserting its detrimental impact on society and culture. His eloquent and incisive prose makes this book a staple of atheist literature.





A postcard to believers explaining why Sam is not on Team Jesus.




Dennett treats religion as a natural phenomenon and basically asks, "Why do we believe in gods anyway?" Spoiler: It's not because they're real.




Old but gold. This collection of essays by philosopher Bertrand Russell stands as a timeless critique of religion and an eloquent expression of rational thought. Russell dissects the fallacies of religious belief with his characteristic clarity and intellectual rigor.




In this thought-provoking book, Klein takes readers on a philosophical journey beyond the realms of religious belief. He explores the implications of living in a post-theistic world and challenges readers to consider the possibilities that lie beyond traditional concepts of divinity.




Seidel’s book is a timely critique of the intertwining of Christianity and American nationalism. He argues compellingly against the notion of the United States as a “Christian nation,” advocating for a true understanding of the secular foundations of American democracy.




This sweeping historical account traces the role of doubt and skepticism throughout history. Hecht's narrative spans a wide array of cultures and eras, showing how doubt has been a significant, yet often overlooked, force in shaping human thought.




Sagan isn't just for star-gazers; he's got some serious skeptic cred too. This book is a love letter to science and a Dear John letter to superstition.




Jacoby’s book is an enlightening historical account of secularism in the United States. She highlights the contributions of prominent atheists, agnostics, and secularists, demonstrating the profound impact of freethought on American society.




Greta Christina provides a practical and empathetic guide for atheists revealing their nonbelief to family and friends. This book is filled with useful advice, drawing on a wealth of personal stories and experiences.




In this memoir, Ehrenreich takes a unique approach to atheism, recounting her own mystical experiences and her attempts to reconcile them with her rationalist, scientific worldview.




Yasmine Mohammed’s autobiography is a harrowing and inspirational story of her journey from being a devout Muslim to an outspoken atheist and human rights activist. It’s a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of religious oppression.




Ripley, a former minister, recounts his transition from belief to atheism. This personal narrative explores the intellectual and emotional struggles of questioning and ultimately leaving one’s faith.




Hutchinson offers a critical examination of morality within the context of race and gender. Her book is a compelling argument for a morality based on humanist principles, free from the confines of religious dogma.




Julia Sweeney’s monologue-turned-book is a humorous and poignant account of her journey from Catholicism to atheism. Her story is an insightful exploration of questioning and leaving one's faith.




A historical look at atheism that proves not believing in gods is as old as the hills. Or at least as old as the really old ruins on top of the hills.




A perspective on leaving Islam and embracing atheism. It's a journey from faith to reason, with some pit stops in doubt and questioning.




Because for many, it is believed no atheist's bookshelf is complete without this book. I will say, I existed as an atheist for forty years before I finally read this one, so you can exist without it, but it was a great read. It's a shame Dicky Doc got into bed with the Christofascists in his old age.


Whether you're a seasoned non-believer or just dipping your toes into the godless waters, these books can help light the path. I would love to know which books you would have included. Let me know in the comments!


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2 Comments


warren van der westhuizen
warren van der westhuizen
Dec 12, 2023

Great list ! Can you elaborate on this statement please: "It's a shame Dicky Doc got into bed with the Christofascists in his old age." Really interested in what you have to say on this.

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Benin Oakland
Dec 12, 2023

Another roadside attraction, by Tom Robbins.


brilliant, funny, and entertaining.

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