Author: Christopher Hitchens (editor)
Type: Non-fiction, essays (anthology)
Full title: The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
I read it: April 2008
This is a wonderful collection of some of the most powerful atheist/agnostic writings over the past couple centuries. It has selections by the big names: Spinoza, Shelley, Mill, Marx, Darwin, Twain, Mencken, Freud, Russell, Sagan, Hume, Orwell. It has the expected entries by the modern atheists such as Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris. It has small doses of fiction and poetry thrown in for good measure. And some of the best pieces are the previous unpublished gems by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Check out this book if you have ever been interested in thinking about the big topics, or just thinking in general. As Hitchens says in the introduction, “We are unlikely to cease making gods or inventing ceremonies to please them for as long as we are afraid of death, or of the dark, and for as long as we persist in self-centeredness.” But if we keep in circulation the intelligent and witty articles like the ones anthologized here, we can hope to combat these fears with the weapons of reason and intellect. Darwin bless these authors.