James McGrath over at Exploring Our Matrix recently posted about a challenge:

Rod Dreher shared a challenge aimed at combating religious illiteracy: offer a list of three books – and no more than three – that will together give an adequate introduction to a particular religion.

It’s a tough question, but I think it may be especially so for an atheist since we don’t really have a lot out there to choose from yet (though the body of work is growing quickly).

The ‘biggies’ of my faith group, like The God Delusion or God Is Not Great are okay reading for new “deconverts” still trying to process their feelings over what they’ve left behind, and The God Delusion did help me in the beginning as I tried to find a label for myself and understand the implications of my new worldview. But I would never ever (ever!) tell a religious friend who is interested in knowing more about atheism to read them. They are just too aggressive and, in places, I find them petty. I find that they foster a “yeah! I’m better than those guys!” mentality that I’m just not comfortable with.

I’ve been told that there are better books out there, but atheism itself isn’t really an active interest of mine any more, so I haven’t prioritized hunting them down.

But if a friend asked me for a primer on atheism and I had to give an answer, I think that I’d cheat and give Dale McGowan’s new Atheism for Dummies. It’s actually a really good book, and it covers both the history and the variety of atheism.

To understand a bit more about what an atheist goes through in the process of their deconversion, I’d go with Godless by Dan Barker. I haven’t read his book in several years and my thinking has changed a lot since then, so I offer it with the caveat that I’m not sure how much I’d endorse it if I read it again today. But from memory, I found it to be a very balanced and compelling personal account, and there was much that resonated for me.

For my final book, I want to go in a totally different direction and offer up a title that has nothing at all to do with atheism. Instead, I choose it because it’s had such a profound effect in shaping the adult me, my beliefs, and the way I interact with others. For this last choice, I will go with Faber and Mazlich’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

How about you? What three books would you recommend to someone to explain your worldview?