Ready to read in 2008?

Here’s what I have stacked up for reading in the first part of 2008:

  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Raised as a Muslim fundamentalist who later lost her faith when she could no longer justify the beliefs of her religion to herself, Ayaan Hirsi Ali also lost the support of her family when she refused to enter into an arranged marraige to a cousin and, instead, fled to the Netherlands where she ultimately became a member of the Dutch parliament.
  • Ghost: A Novel by Alan Lightman. A fascinating story about a nonbeliever who works in a morgue and sees something that disturbs him, confuses him, and disrupts his entire life. A very interesting look at the inside workings of the human mind and how we react to personal experinces that might not line up with our worldview. As with all of Lightman’s books, this is a pleasure to read, enlightening, and entertaining.
  • Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up by John Allen Paulos. A slim volume that covers the most common arguments for the existence of God and shows the logical fallacies in the arguments. Paulos is a very good writer who takes what might otherwise be dense and complex information and breaks it down into simple language with wit and humor.
  • Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti of I’m not young (I can’t deceive myself any more), but I am interested in how feminism and skepchickism overlap and how they do not. I find myself frustrated time and time again by feminist writers who think that science is somehow a “man’s way of knowing” and that it is a tool of the patriarchy to stop women’s intuition, which often leads to feminist authors claiming that “women’s ways of knowing,” usually some forms of what we call “woo,” are somehow superior to rational thought.
  • Let’s read Full Frontal Feminism in January, and have a chat about what feminsm and skepchicksm have in common. Then we’ll tackle Infidel.

If you have any suggestions for other books to read next year, please leave a comment.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. I'm just finishing "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travis and Elliot Arsonson, and I've found it quite revealing. It showed me making my own mistakes that I was only semiconscious of. Skeptic Magazine has the Caltec Lecture available on DVD. Unfortunately, I've already blown my Video budget this month, so later….

  2. A hearty "YES" vote for the book on Feminism as I share your frustration. I would like to consider myself a feminist but then I hear some of the things "leading feminists" say and wonder if it is really a camp I want to associate myself with. It should be interesting to discuss!

  3. A friend of mine was interviewed for some feminist (post-feminist? post-post-feminist??) website, so when I heard about it, I trundled on over and read the profiles of the other young women therein profiled. One of them was studying midwifery and said something about "integrating holistic methods" into the care provided to mothers and newborns.

    After reading that, I thought, "Gee, endangering the lives of women and children is such a non-feminist thing to do!"

    But that was probably just my penis talking.

  4. By the way, I just bought and read John Allen Paulos's book. It's a shame it didn't come out before the Christmas season, as it would've made a superb freethinker's stocking-stuffer. The territory Paulos covers is familiar, I daresay, to anybody who has spent a few weeks in the skeptical blogosphere, and most Pharyngula regulars could probably provide some version of the refutations written by Paulos (these refutations, along with the arguments they topple, are often "golden oldies").

    His discussion of Ramsey theory — briefly put, the way order emerging from chaos is, in some situations, inevitable — may be the most novel and the thorniest section for the average Skepchick. I await with eagerness your opinions on this matter, as being a math-and-physics type myself, I might not be able to judge the popularizations of those subjects fully well.

  5. I've been looking for an excuse to pick up Valenti's book, so I guess now I've found it.

    Monika: I think I know what kind of thing you mean by "leading feminists" (presumably the all-sex-is-rape-even-if-it's-consensual kind of type, right?). Well, Valenti's definitely not that kind. She actually has taken a lot of criticism from within certain feminist circles for, I dunno, not being frumpy enough or whatever. (Remember Ann Althouse's Boobgate insanity? Yeah, that's the same Jessica Valenti.)

    But anyway knowing that there are feminists out there like her and the folks at Feministe! make me feel a lot more comfortable to be a guy who identifies as a feminist.

  6. I will certainly be looking up the books you've listed (with the exception of Infidel, because I just got it for the holidays), so here is a list of books I've either read over the past few months or that my husband and I exchanged as xmas gifts. Some are fiction; most are not.

    I Am America (And So Can You!) — Stephen Colbert

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius — Dave Eggers

    Rights of Man — C Hitchens

    God is Not Great — C Hitchens

    The Portable Atheist — C Hitchens

    The God Delusion — R Dawkins

    The Importance of Being Ernest — Oscar Wilde

    God: The Failed Hypothesis — Victor J Stenger

    Breaking the Spell — Daniel Dennett

    Letter to a Christian Nation — Sam Harris

    The End of Faith — Sam Harris

    Brave New World — A Huxley, revisited by C Hitchens

    Ape & Essence — A Huxley

    Heart of Darkness — Joseph Conrad

    Under Western Eyes — Joseph Conrad

    Leviathan — Thomas Hobbes

    Prometheus Unbound — Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Religion & Science — Bertrand Russell

    My list looks longer now that it's typed out, heh. I'm sure some of these are repeats for some of you, but these are my most recent literary endeavors.

  7. I'm currently reading; "Lamb: The gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore. This is a hilarious work of fiction from the same guy that did Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck.

    It's been awhile since I have read a book that I laughed out loud at. By the way, flying on a plane and laughing frequently out loud to yourself makes your fellow travellers uncomfortable. Which is even funnier.

  8. Yes Joshua you have pegged the sub-group of feminists I am talking about!

    It has actually been an interesting evolution for me because there was a time when I vehemently denied being a feminist or identifying with that group. What I had heard from feminists was all very negative. I've since done more reading and research and realised I was wrong. There is a sub-group for sure but the main thrust of feminism is about equality regardless of gender which, of course, I am all for!

    And yes – sites like Jessica's do restore my faith in being a feminist. Now I need to go buy her book. :-)

  9. Over christmas I was given "Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks" by Christopher Brookmyre. My brother has read all this guys books and thought I might like it since it had a fair bit of skepticism in it. I have to say it was really good. Perhaps a bit Scottish in places for a more general audience, but great for skeptics everywhere (I love the skeptical heroes in the book!). Well worth checking out.

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