Reading for Fall

Ready to start reading books again?

For fall, we’ll start out with two books written by Skepchick readers. It looks like Rebecca was too busy to introduce a reading selection for July and since August has already been dented, we’ll start off easy with a novel.

The Tea House: A Novel by Paul Elwork

Emily Stewart has a secret. So does her brother, Michael. Thirteen years old, precocious and privileged, the Stewart twins are just beginning to learn the power of secrets.

During the summer of 1925, the twins discover a game of pretending to contact the dead. In the garden playhouse of their riverfront estate home, neighborhood children gather to be in the presence of the unknown and test their bravery. When adults become involved, the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief, and the game truly becomes a matter of life and death.

Inspired by and loosely based on the true story of the Fox sisters, this deeply compassionate debut novel delivers a suspenseful story that delves into the truths lying at the very heart of families.

Read an excerpt here. More info from the author is here.

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison

Many books that challenge religious belief from a skeptical point of view take a combative tone that is almost guaranteed to alienate believers or they present complex philosophical or scientific arguments that fail to reach the average reader. Journalist Guy P. Harrison argues that this is an ineffective way of encouraging people to develop critical thinking about religion. In this unique approach to skepticism regarding God, Harrison concisely presents fifty commonly heard reasons people often give for believing in a God and then he raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that there is much room for doubt.

Read more from the publisher here. And here’s a review by Hemant at Friendly Atheist.

Then we’ll move on to two selections recommended by Skepchick readers:

Recommended by limadea

I just finished The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, the author of Freethinkers. It was a great look at American’s attitude to intellectualism, from individuals to politics, etc.

And our first children’s book, suggested by Zoltan

I have an unusual suggestion: a children’s book – you can read it cover to cover in an hour. However, for any of you skeptics wanting to share ideas with your kids, it’s an excellent place to start. (I don’t have kids, but I like this book anyway.)

The book is The Ghost on Saturday Night by Sid Fleischman. A story about a con artist, foiled by a kid and his clever aunt. Stuffed full of fine, critical reasoning on a kid level. I highly recommend it.


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. The blurb for Guy P. Harrison’s book sounds like he (or his copywriter) is trying to distance his book from the Dawkinsian Bogeyman. But the description of its contents could apply to big slabs of The God Delusion. Oh, and it could fit John Allen Paulos’s Irreligion, too — not to mention umpty-ump blog entries and online essays.

    “Ad copy overhypes uniqueness of product” is hardly a headline. . . .

  2. For all I know, the book could be superb (naturally, I’m hoping it is, because I like having superb books in the world). I just find it partly amusing and partly galling that its advertising copy is so enthusiastic about taking the “I’m not like those other people!” route. All in a good cause, maybe. . . but it’s still buying into the opposition’s propaganda. Imagine a book on Jewish culture whose back-flap material started, “Unlike the money-grubbing kikes who wrote all those other books about Jewish history and stuff, this author is a really nice guy.”

    I expect we’ll be seeing a good deal more in this vein during the coming years. The horrifying thing is that it might well count as progress.

  3. That sounds pretty decent.

    I just finished reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It was long as crap, and overall, pretty decent. It’s about this master builder in the 11-12th century, and his family, as they struggle with the oppressive church. I’d recommend it, but only if you’re all out of books that you want to read.

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