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Old 11-06-2008, 10:36 AM
Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Recommend some good books for a budding young skeptic


As I mention in this post, I have a female cousin in her mid-teens who got into trouble a couple of weeks back for refusing to budge on her skepticism at church. In addition to grounding her, her parents confiscated all her books and culled all the ones they found objectionable--which means, among other things, all the hard science (you can imagine how her parents reacted to the Dawkins stuff) all the science fiction, and almost all of the fantasy--including, mysteriously, all the Tolkien & Lewis. They've left her with nothing but idiotic, homogenized pap suitable for third graders.

I mention all of this because my wife and I were just looking over all our first-year anniversary presents. This included several bookstore gift cards--about $150 worth--as it's the paper anniversary and everyone we know knows that we're nerds. Kim wants to use the cards to rebuild my cousin's library, which we'll keep here so my cousin has access to the books whenever she pleases (once she's off punishment) and can take them with her when she goes off to school I thought I'd ask you guys for some input.

What we don't need: Tolkien & Lewis. We already have multiple copies of LotR, Hobbit, Silmarillion, & the Chronicles, as I've been buying hardbacks to replace paperbacks. Likewise Heinlein.

Thoughts, anybody?
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:51 AM
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Sagan?

My very religious grandmother didn’t like to see me reading The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:02 AM
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"Flim-Flam!" by James Randi.
"The Demon Haunted Word" by Carl Sagan.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:05 AM
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Stephan Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man isn't specifically about religion, but it is about healthy scepticism and rational thought.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:15 AM
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You know, I was gonna recommend the Bible, cause there's no better way to flummox fundamentalists than to know the Bible better than they do. But I see on the other thread that she's reading the Bible already, so it's all good.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:36 AM
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Hm. How far down the road do you want to go? As far as God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything? Along the same lines, there's The Quotable Atheist and The Atheist Mainfesto, which are handy guides for crafting arguments with believers. And if she's never read it, an oldie but a goodies is Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:44 AM
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The Flight of Peter Fromm is on my To-be-read shelf. Anybody know if it's any good?

From the OP, it's not clear whether you're specifically asking for books that encourage skepticism (religious or otherwise), or, more generally, books that feed the mind and/or the imagination but that she can't have at home. And I'm a little bit surprised you're asking, since I would have thought that you, of all people, would already have plenty of ideas for good books, from among books that you yourself have read and loved or profited from.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:46 AM
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Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer

The interesting thing about Shermer (for those who don't know him) is that he was once a fundamentalist Christian which provides him with an interesting perspective.
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Old 11-06-2008, 11:47 AM
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Hm. How far down the road do you want to go? As far as God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything? Along the same lines, there's The Quotable Atheist and The Atheist Mainfesto, which are handy guides for crafting arguments with believers. And if she's never read it, an oldie but a goodies is Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian.
My wife isn't an atheist, and the cards are as much hers as mine; and it was her idea anyway. Sagan's a really good idea, though.

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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink
From the OP, it's not clear whether you're specifically asking for books that encourage skepticism (religious or otherwise), or, more generally, books that feed the mind and/or the imagination but that she can't have at home. And I'm a little bit surprised you're asking, since I would have thought that you, of all people, would already have plenty of ideas for good books, from among books that you yourself have read and loved or profited from.
I thought it would be an interesting discussion, and I hoped that you guys would think of things I'm overlooking. For instance, I had totally blanked on Sagan's Demon-Haunted World, but it is pretty much the perfect book to encourage the little girl to think.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 11-06-2008 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:00 PM
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I guess I would ask how much you value your relationship with this cousin and her family. Because when -- not if, when -- her parents find out you are supplying her with reading material you know damn well they don't want her to have, you may well find that you have seriously damaged your relationship with her parents and ended your relationship with her. I would also point out that expecting her to keep your arrangement secret from her parents is another thing her parents may well object strongly to, regardless of the subject on which you ask her to not tell her folks.

I'm not weighing in on the relative worth of skepticism and fundamentalism, except to point out both those terms cover a lot of ground. I think you can certainly leave your own books out in your own house for her to look at when she's there, and you can certainly let her know you're open to discuss any issue with her at any time, and you will be honest about what you believe, or don't believe, or why. But to directly and intentionally undermine her parents and how they are trying to raise her, because you don't agree? That is miles beyond your role, and any parent would seriously resent it.

I mean, just flip the situation around for a minute. What if you were trying to raise a skeptical child who questions unsupported beliefs and rejects the idea of "god", and you found out her cousins were spending money to buy her a nice new library of religious, anti-skeptic books to have for her very own, and telling her not to tell you about it?

It's not a religious issue. It's a parenting issue. You are not this child's parent, and IMO you owe it to her parents to not undermine them is so direct and intentional a way.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:05 PM
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An oldie but goodie: Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner.
I'm a big fan of Gardner and have all his books. His more recent book along the same vein is Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:05 PM
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I mean, just flip the situation around for a minute. What if you were trying to raise a skeptical child who questions unsupported beliefs and rejects the idea of "god", and you found out her cousins were spending money to buy her a nice new library of religious, anti-skeptic books to have for her very own, and telling her not to tell you about it?

The bolded part is the only thing I'd personally have a problem with, as a parent. If some relative or friend wants to keep religious books at their house for my kid to read while she visits, fine, whatever. I raise my kids to be open-minded. Telling the kid to lie to me about it would not be okay, however. But, Skald didn't say he was going to encourage his cousin to lie.

Back on topic, I was going to suggest Why People Believe Weird Things and The Demon-Haunted World, but I see that unsurprisingly, they've already been mentioned.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:08 PM
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The bolded part is the only thing I'd personally have a problem with, as a parent. If some relative or friend wants to keep religious books at their house for my kid to read while she visits, fine, whatever. I raise my kids to be open-minded. Telling the kid to lie to me about it would not be okay, however. But, Skald didn't say he was going to encourage his cousin to lie.
Perhaps I read to much into it, but I really don't see how he can expect her fundie parents to even let him give her the books, much less keep them, if they are aware of what he is doing. Surely that will put a quick end to the child coming to Skaldie's house. So I assume a certain amount of "wink wink nudge nudge let's just keep this between ourselves," because otherwise he could just as well set the gift cards on fire as use them to buy books the kid will never see.

ETA: And you, like me, would be find with people keeping religious (or anti-religious) books at their homes for our kids to read -- great, in fact, I would encourage it. But clearly we are not this particular kid's parents, nor likely to have the same mindset they apparently do.

ET to again further A: I am not arguing for religion or against skepticism, but I do see a big hairy family problem coming down the road, and it seems like one Skald and wife might want to consider before taking action. That's all.

Last edited by Jodi; 11-06-2008 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:11 PM
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I guess I would ask how much you value your relationship with this cousin and her family. Because when -- not if, when -- her parents find out you are supplying her with reading material you know damn well they don't want her to have, you may well find that you have seriously damaged your relationship with her parents and ended your relationship with her. I would also point out that expecting her to keep your arrangement secret from her parents is another thing her parents may well object strongly to, regardless of the subject on which you ask her to not tell her folks.

I'm not weighing in on the relative worth of skepticism and fundamentalism, except to point out both those terms cover a lot of ground. I think you can certainly leave your own books out in your own house for her to look at when she's there, and you can certainly let her know you're open to discuss any issue with her at any time, and you will be honest about what you believe, or don't believe, or why. But to directly and intentionally undermine her parents and how they are trying to raise her, because you don't agree? That is miles beyond your role, and any parent would seriously resent it.

I mean, just flip the situation around for a minute. What if you were trying to raise a skeptical child who questions unsupported beliefs and rejects the idea of "god", and you found out her cousins were spending money to buy her a nice new library of religious, anti-skeptic books to have for her very own, and telling her not to tell you about it?

It's not a religious issue. It's a parenting issue. You are not this child's parent, and IMO you owe it to her parents to not undermine them is so direct and intentional a way.
I agree with this. I'm an atheist from way back, and I cringed when I read about the situation with your niece. But she's your niece, not your daughter.

The repercussions from this will be worse for her than the original punishment. When the parents find out, you will more than likely be cut off from her, and she will lose her main outlet for reason. I say, better to keep her around than to risk losing her entirely.

Also, I think this is a battle she needs to fight herself. As said above, leave your books around to borrow, talk with her about your thoughts, and be there for her.

I'm sure you would never intend it to, but something like this may make her into a pawn in the battle of yours and the parent's about faith and reason. That would be unfair, and a little uncomfortable for her, to say the least.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:13 PM
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So far as having books when she visits

I second the recommendations for Hitchens and Russell. Why I am Not a Christian was a particularly good read when I was younger.

Also, how about some good TV for her vists - Penn and Teller's Bullshit has some good pieces on all sorts of things, if you can handle the language.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:16 PM
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How To Think About Weird Things.

Crimes Against Logic.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:20 PM
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I guess I would ask how much you value your relationship with this cousin and her family. Because when -- not if, when -- her parents find out you are supplying her with reading material you know damn well they don't want her to have, you may well find that you have seriously damaged your relationship with her parents and ended your relationship with her.
True. But so what? I can stand up for her and give her some respite, or be secret best friends with her. I believe I shall ask myself what Peter Griffin would do, and choose an opposing course.

Quote:
I mean, just flip the situation around for a minute. What if you were trying to raise a skeptical child who questions unsupported beliefs and rejects the idea of "god", and you found out her cousins were spending money to buy her a nice new library of religious, anti-skeptic books to have for her very own, and telling her not to tell you about it?
I was a really bad parent, so probably I'm the wrong person to say this, but I should hope that I'd be honest enough with my kids so that they would come to me with any doubts. Moreover, her parents have already made it clear that they don't intend to deal honestly or fairly with her.

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It's not a religious issue. It's a parenting issue. You are not this child's parent, and IMO you owe it to her parents to not undermine them is so direct and intentional a way.
No, I owe it to the little girl and to myself to be a non-jackass.

I'm not encouraging her to lie. I don't even plan to encourage her to be an atheist. Nor do I plan to encourage her to confront them with her skepticism, because frankly all that'll get her is more punishment. I am, however, inclined to agree with Mrs. Rhymer that it would be nice for her to have a clean, well-lighted place where she can sit and read without getting any shit. She is going to get endless shit on her skepticism this weekend in particular (big religious convocation she will be required to attend, and big family get together afterwad during which there will be public prayer centered on the state of her soul). She's going to get endless shit till she submits, and I want her to have a safe harbor, because nobody gave me when I was that age and getting yelled it for wondering aloud about the theory of evolution.

To me, this is analogous to providing a voice to a gay kid whose family insists that fags & dykes all go to the hottest part of Hell. I know my extended family, and that's the kind of crap some of them are readying.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:26 PM
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I have many of the books recommended, and would myself recommend them, but I don't recall her age. I assume she's beyond third grade. Also, I don't know her preferences.


I'd recommend:


Stephen Jay Gould's books, especially his collections of essays.



Willy Ley's books, if you can find them. He was a great science popularizer

Likewise L. Sprague de Camp's essays. His SF and fantasy are great, too, of course, but not obviously skeptic.


Much of Martin Gardner's stuff. His Fads and Fallacies is good, but dated. His Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener is good reading for adults and adolescents.



Jow Nickell's skeptical books.


Philip Klass and Robert Schaeffer on UFOs




And, of course, those Straight Dope books. I hear they're pretty good.




You might also try any of Larry Gonick's "Cartoon Guide to ....[whatever]" books. He has a ton of them out, and the historical ones (History of the Universe in three parts, plus the modern world) are great, but he tacles Physics, Comnputer Science, Ecology, Genetics, Communications, and....Sex, as well.Not to mention US history
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:26 PM
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The repercussions from this will be worse for her than the original punishment. When the parents find out, you will more than likely be cut off from her, and she will lose her main outlet for reason. I say, better to keep her around than to risk losing her entirely.
So I should support her in a fashion entirely imperceptible and useless to her? Wow. That's better than praying for her soul, as it doesn't require kneeling.

Quote:

Also, I think this is a battle she needs to fight herself. As said above, leave your books around to borrow, talk with her about your thoughts, and be there for her.

I'm sure you would never intend it to, but something like this may make her into a pawn in the battle of yours and the parent's about faith and reason. That would be unfair, and a little uncomfortable for her, to say the least.
This part of the discussion is better suited for IMHO or GD, so I'll answer your post and then be still. I'm not encouraging her to do anything. I'm not setting up a room in the house as Skepticism Central. I am making sure she has a few books available to her whenever she wishes, which she can read without getting punished. I intend to give her physical custody of the books once she moves out and is on her own.

I'm not fighing a battle of reason versus faith with her parents. I'm not inclined to try to persuade them to change their belief system, because I don't care what they believe. That's their business. But I like the kid, and at little actual cost to me I can make her life a little happier.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:30 PM
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I hear that that Cecil Adams fellow writes some interesting books.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:30 PM
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I am, however, inclined to agree with Mrs. Rhymer that it would be nice for her to have a clean, well-lighted place where she can sit and read without getting any shit. She is going to get endless shit on her skepticism this weekend in particular (big religious convocation she will be required to attend, and big family get together afterwad during which there will be public prayer centered on the state of her soul). She's going to get endless shit till she submits, and I want her to have a safe harbor, because nobody gave me when I was that age and getting yelled it for wondering aloud about the theory of evolution.
Quote:

I'm not fighing a battle of reason versus faith with her parents. I'm not inclined to try to persuade them to change their belief system, because I don't care what they believe. That's their business. But I like the kid, and at little actual cost to me I can make her life a little happier.
You're doing the right thing. Good for you.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:35 PM
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True. But so what?
I can't tell you "so what." You have to weight that. When faced with the possibility that you may alienate her parents and lose all contact with her, you have to decide if the risk is worth the good you're seeking to do. I can't make that decision for you; I can only point out the problem. If you're good with it, I obviously am as well, because it's not my family. I would point out, however, and using your analogy, that if I had a neice or nephew in a rabidly homophobic family such that I was the only voice of tolerance he/she heard, probably the last thing I would do would be to intentionally alienate the parents so that my influence was removed entirely and my voice silenced. If you are in fact this child's only safe harbor, please consider moving more circumpectly (allowing her access to your books; making yourself available for discussions and questions) rather than taking the gamble that through your overly-aggressive if well-meaning actions you yourself are responsible for that safe harbor being snatched away.

But if you don't see the problem -- if in fact to you it boils down to "So what?" -- then I genuinely wish you luck. Barnes & Noble awaits.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:38 PM
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I say go subversive with stuff that will help her think, but doesn't look bad on the outside. Comedy stuff is usually best in this case, so I say get her some Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchet.

Good Omens, Small Gods or Pyramids, The Hitchhikers Guide and The Salmon of Doubt would be a good start, and all seem rather innocent at first glance. Maybe hold off on Good Omens, maybe not.

Last edited by NAF1138; 11-06-2008 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:43 PM
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And I see absolutely no reason you can't buy the books and call them yours, keeping them at your house, until she's old enough to be on her own, at which point you can gift her with all of them. Then her crazy family can't say you're undermining her by giving her books you know they object to; she just, oops, paged through it while visiting you. I have no problem with your plan, but I think it might be improved by a bit more finesse. You can make the same materials available without declaring HERE! WE BOUGHT THESE FOR YOU!
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:57 PM
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Howsabout Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart D. Ehrman?

It's an accessible, well-reasoned and meticulously researched look at why the Bible cannot possibly be the inerrant word of God, mostly because of how it got recorded, transcribed and translated over its many centuries. Very interesting read.
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:57 PM
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The Bridge to Terabithia

The best friend of the main character is an atheist girl.

Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, Arrow's Fall (Trilogy)

Different characters have different religious beliefs, sexual orientations, etc. yet are all nice people and respect each other for their respective beliefs.
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Old 11-06-2008, 01:25 PM
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And I see absolutely no reason you can't buy the books and call them yours, keeping them at your house, until she's old enough to be on her own, at which point you can gift her with all of them. Then her crazy family can't say you're undermining her by giving her books you know they object to; she just, oops, paged through it while visiting you. I have no problem with your plan, but I think it might be improved by a bit more finesse. You can make the same materials available without declaring HERE! WE BOUGHT THESE FOR YOU!
Um...what are we arguing about, in that case? That's exactly what I'm doing.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:11 PM
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Howsabout Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart D. Ehrman?

It's an accessible, well-reasoned and meticulously researched look at why the Bible cannot possibly be the inerrant word of God, mostly because of how it got recorded, transcribed and translated over its many centuries. Very interesting read.
This is what I was going to recommend. The author was an evangelical Christian until he started studying the Bible and ancient languages in depth at a religious college. He learned enough to first challenge his faith, then lead him to agnosticism. He's the chair of the Dept. of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:36 PM
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Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
Kenneth Miller's Finding Darwin's God
The Golden Compass trilogy
Pretty much any classic sci-fi will get her brain going, and an active brain is your best defense against Fundamentalist religion.

ETA: I just wanted to say how appalled I am at the situation with the girl and her parents. What good is unexamined faith?

Last edited by Cat Whisperer; 11-06-2008 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:50 PM
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What good is unexamined faith?
It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who haven't caught on to the idea that "but we've always done it this way!" is a joke now, rather than a reason.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:51 PM
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The Golden Compass trilogy
I second this, and came here to recomend it.

I would also recomend "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein, although maybe that is one she already had?

Also, "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin, which has much the same feel to it.

I'll also recomend "Our Man in Havanna" (by Graham Greene?). It is neither fantasy/scifi, nor "sceptic litterature", but it's a really funny book about screwing over an irrational authority

The "Science of Discworld" books are funny, and the second one deals with human culture and creativity. It suggests why "belief" (not neccesarily religious belief) is in some ways a usefull step on the evolutionary ladder, which may help her deal with some of the nuttery her parents are displaying.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:53 PM
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Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
I would never inflict Ayn Rand on someone I liked. Except to help them win the yearly scholarship, if it's still being given out.


Quote:
The Golden Compass trilogy
I already thought about His Dark Materials, but I'm ambivalent about it. The writing is beautiful throughout, and Golden Compass/Northern Lights is unalloyed brilliance; but Pullman turns Lyra into a twit in the latter two books, and the third book, in particular, is rushed and incoherent plotwise. When I am God-king I shall require him to rewrite both Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass.

Quote:
ETA: I just wanted to say how appalled I am at the situation with the girl and her parents. What good is unexamined faith?
Why, it gets you into Heaven, of course. God doesn't like thinking. The purpose of the brain is to cool the blood, and only interference by Asmodeus is responsible for our cognitive abilities.
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:17 PM
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I read The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris as a young teen (hey it had naked in the title). It really opened my eyes.
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:32 PM
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I would never inflict Ayn Rand on someone I liked. Except to help them win the yearly scholarship, if it's still being given out.

....snip
Careful! You're doing your own limiting on her options, here...
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:34 PM
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Careful! You're doing your own limiting on her options, here...
It's the horror of Ms. Rand's writing style that vexes me so. Besides, every choice anybody makes is a limiting of options.
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:38 PM
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Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton and From Jesus to Christ by Paula Fredrikson offer an historical view of Jesus. I'm not Christian, so I found these books to be educational and offer context to Jesus, his preachings, and how they were perceived by his cohorts. From Jesus to Christ might be a bit heady (reads like a textbook) for your niece but if you read it with her it can offer some interesting conversation points.
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Old 11-06-2008, 04:51 PM
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Another vote for Demon-Haunted World, by Sagan. I read it as a teenager and it blew my mind. I've been a skeptic ever since.
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:30 PM
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Voodoo Science by Robert Park.

http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Science...6014081&sr=1-1
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Old 11-06-2008, 05:40 PM
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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (Paperback)

This was a great book for me as a teenager since I enjoyed history, and it was the first book that really blew my mind- my textbooks WEREN'T 100% accurate, the fact that was possible just blew me away, and since then I've always been sure to check the sources and learn more about everything.

So yeah, if she likes history, I'd recommend this book- it's a bit wordy though, and I'd only subject it to someone who ENJOYED the subject. But it does give one pause.

If not that- just get her some Terry Pratchett. That's the good stuff and everyone enjoys it.
  #40  
Old 11-06-2008, 05:45 PM
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Waiting for the Galactic Bus and it's sequel, The Snake-Oil Wars might be good. They're basically about a pair of aliens who got stranded on Earth and started playing God. It's fun sci-fi that tries to explore what makes human nature, though I'm not sure if it succeeds in that respect or not.
  #41  
Old 11-06-2008, 09:12 PM
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Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler. There's not a lot of difference between religious fundamentalism and Soviet-style communist doctrine - both demand unthinking faith in God or Party above all other virtues. Koester's novel, if you don't know it, follows a former Party apparatchik through his incarceration and slow development of self-awareness and skepticism. It's a good read, and a real classic.

Linden's The Accidental Mind is a fun read on the evolution of the human brain, but it gets a bit challenging in places - the book doesn't shy away from the occasional bit of organic chemistry.
  #42  
Old 11-06-2008, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
and almost all of the fantasy-
You say "almost all." Any idea what they left behind in fantasy?

For mid-teens, I'd say go with some girl power, strong female heroines:

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
First Test by Tamora Pierce
Shadowland by Meg Cabot
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Green Rider by Kristen Britain

YA is chock full of Buffy wannabes right now. I consider it a great trend, showing girls that it isn't just males who get to kick ass and take names.

Last edited by wonky; 11-06-2008 at 10:20 PM.
  #43  
Old 11-06-2008, 10:44 PM
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Okay...I'm trying for lighthearted and fun. The fact that the first things that came up dealt with religion is purely coincidental. They are however, very fun reads more than books on religion.

Good Omens- Neil Gaiman, Terry Prachett
Lamb- The gospel according to Biff, Christ's childhood pal -Chris Moore (actually, anything by him. Funny stuff.)
  #44  
Old 11-06-2008, 10:51 PM
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I would never inflict Ayn Rand on someone I liked. Except to help them win the yearly scholarship, if it's still being given out.
Everyone should read at least one Ayn Rand book in their lifetimes. You might not agree with anything she says, and it might not be literary greatness, but I've never read anything like her before or after. I read "Atlas Shrugged" as a teen, and clichéd as it might be, I had never thought about things like that before.
Quote:

I already thought about His Dark Materials, but I'm ambivalent about it. The writing is beautiful throughout, and Golden Compass/Northern Lights is unalloyed brilliance; but Pullman turns Lyra into a twit in the latter two books, and the third book, in particular, is rushed and incoherent plotwise. When I am God-king I shall require him to rewrite both Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass.
I dunno; there were parts in the final book where I was crying as I was reading it (last year). There was something to the series that truly touched me.
Quote:

Why, it gets you into Heaven, of course. God doesn't like thinking. The purpose of the brain is to cool the blood, and only interference by Asmodeus is responsible for our cognitive abilities.
Ah, that makes perfect sense!

ETA: She might enjoy some Dave Barry, too. He is incredibly funny, but his irreverence should be good for a skeptic.

Last edited by Cat Whisperer; 11-06-2008 at 10:52 PM.
  #45  
Old 11-07-2008, 12:42 AM
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As odd as it may sound, I'd recommend 1491, by Charles C. Mann. Not only is it engaging and informative, Mann repeatedly tells the traditional version of pre-Columbian history at the beginning of a chapter without lacing it with any conditionals or supposedly's.
That is then followed with the new version, based on evidence, well-reasoned arguments and cited sources. It tells the reader that what is presented as simple truth in textbooks might not be fully true, and even this new version isn't 100% known for sure, but is the best we can gather. It leaves a good impression of what "reliable knowledge" is.
  #46  
Old 11-07-2008, 01:15 AM
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If nothing else by Ayn, ANTHEM. It's short, atheistic, individualistic but not ruthless like ATLAS and FOUNT... are.

Question- is it atheistic/agnostic skepticism you want or rational open-mindedness?
Would you respect her decision if, after reading & thinking all she could, she decided to adhere to a religion, even if it is her parents' (Oneness?) Pentecostalism?
  #47  
Old 11-07-2008, 05:46 AM
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History Humor


If she's interested in our somewhat twisted history?

Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History by Richard Shenkman
The Greatest Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy by Rick Beyer
Legends , Lies & Cherished Myths of World History by R. Shenkman
That's Not in My American History Book: A C... by Thomas Ayres
Don't Know Much About History: Everything Y... by Kenneth C. Davis

Apologies if one of these was listed above.

"Midnight ride of Paul Revere" - absolute horse pucky
  #48  
Old 11-07-2008, 06:55 AM
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ETA: She might enjoy some Dave Barry, too. He is incredibly funny, but his irreverence should be good for a skeptic.
Good idea. Some of these other books sound like hard work!
  #49  
Old 11-07-2008, 07:43 AM
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"The Stranger" by Albert Camus. When questioned about his religious beliefs, the protagonist says he believes in the "benign indifference of the universe". (always loved that phrase).

Last edited by mambocrow; 11-07-2008 at 07:48 AM.
  #50  
Old 11-07-2008, 07:48 AM
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I agree with those who are offering suggestions for books that deal with misreported history in general; they serve multiple purposes, in opening eyes to the fallibility of supposedly accurate textbooks, teaching skepticism in general, and doing so in a way that allows her to develop critical thinking skills without seeming to attack specific religious beliefs.
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