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42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now A 42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now Ariane and dozens of other atheist writers, comedians and scientists are joining together to raise money for a very different cause. The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is a funny, thoughtful handbook all about enjoying Christmas, from 42 of the world's most entertaining atheists. It features everything from an atheist Christmas miracle to a guide to the best Christmas pop hits, and contributors include Richard Dawkins, Charlie Brooker, Derren Brown, Ben Goldacre, Jenny Colgan, David Baddiel, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Brian Cox and Richard Herring. The full book advance and all royalties will go to the UK HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust.(less)


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42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now A 42 atheist celebrities, comedians, scientists and writers give their funny and serious tips for enjoying the Christmas season. Last year, Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine launched the Atheist Bus Campaign and ended up raising over GBP150,000, enough to place the advert 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' on 800 UK buses in January 2009. Now Ariane and dozens of other atheist writers, comedians and scientists are joining together to raise money for a very different cause. The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is a funny, thoughtful handbook all about enjoying Christmas, from 42 of the world's most entertaining atheists. It features everything from an atheist Christmas miracle to a guide to the best Christmas pop hits, and contributors include Richard Dawkins, Charlie Brooker, Derren Brown, Ben Goldacre, Jenny Colgan, David Baddiel, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Brian Cox and Richard Herring. The full book advance and all royalties will go to the UK HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust.(less)

30 review for There's Probably No God: The Atheists' Guide to Christmas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    The fact that you don't believe you were created by a supreme being shouldn't keep you from overeating, drinking too much, and arguing with your relatives every December the 25th. I'm a non-believer who puts up multiple Christmas trees, listens to seasonal music, and collects nativity scenes from South America. After reading this book, I found out I'm not so unusual after all. Seems there may be thousands of us out there, drinking the nog, and listening to Bing while wearing reindeer sweaters. Her The fact that you don't believe you were created by a supreme being shouldn't keep you from overeating, drinking too much, and arguing with your relatives every December the 25th. I'm a non-believer who puts up multiple Christmas trees, listens to seasonal music, and collects nativity scenes from South America. After reading this book, I found out I'm not so unusual after all. Seems there may be thousands of us out there, drinking the nog, and listening to Bing while wearing reindeer sweaters. Here's a reassuring pat on the head in the form of a collection of essays - most from people I've never heard of. Many are quite humorous, some are not. A few are instructional - how to deal with annoying people, how to celebrate a "greener" holiday, etc. Most of the writing earns three stars, however there are a few outstanding works that pull my rating up to four. Both If God Existed Would He Have a Sense of Humor? by Charlie Brooker and Front Line in the War on Christmas by Andrew Shaffer were quite insightful. In one hilarious essay, Nick Doody introduces us to "famous" scientist Bernhard Gernhard and his experiments in "Christmassiness." It seems that in one laboratory test, children were placed in the laps of bearded men, but none reported feeling "Christmassy." Turns out, the bearded men were Orthodox Jews who became irritable when the purpose of the experiment was explained to them. My favorite was an essay by Simon Singh. His The Sound of Christmas is a tribute to the Big Bang which manages to be funny, informative, awe-inspiring and, sniff, even a little touching. Because we are made from the debris of nuclear reactions that took place in exploding stars, the romantics among you might like to think of yourselves as being composed of stardust. On the other hand, cynics might prefer to think of yourselves as nuclear waste. And if that ain't "Christmassy," I don't know what is...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Rayment

    think it is very important that I give you a warning and some background before you get to my review of this book. I am not an Atheist, but I am also not an organized religion type of girl and I also grew up in a family that weren't very religious. My Father was raised Salvation Army and many of his relatives also follow the B'hai religion. My Mom was raised United but didn't attend church much growing up. The only time our family went to Church was for weddings, funerals and way too many bazaar think it is very important that I give you a warning and some background before you get to my review of this book. I am not an Atheist, but I am also not an organized religion type of girl and I also grew up in a family that weren't very religious. My Father was raised Salvation Army and many of his relatives also follow the B'hai religion. My Mom was raised United but didn't attend church much growing up. The only time our family went to Church was for weddings, funerals and way too many bazaars to mention (my mom was a serious crafter). We were raised to respect others beliefs, to help others less fortunate than ourselves, and just to be kind generous people without being told we had to do it or God was going to be pissed off and send us toHell. I know my Dad believed in God, but was against organized religion of any kind. He was very vocal in saying that we all had the right to believe what we wanted, but it was wrong to force our opinions on others. So I pretty much lived the way he lived. I believe in God, but honestly its more like Mulder, in that I want to believe rather than I actually do. Both of my Parents are dead, so it is very comforting to think that they are in Heaven watching over me, and quite frankly getting a laugh over all the trouble my kids give me (because they know I totally deserve it). I'm also a parent so I want there to be a Heaven so that when I die I can still watch over them (and probably lmao when their kids torture them). I also like to believe in a gentle God who obviously has a weird sense of humour, and who is totally ok with my views on him. A lot of my healthy skepticism about God comes from history, not to mention science. Look at all the wars that have happened in Gods name (or Allah, etc) -- and quite frankly if God approves of that, well than I would rather go to Hell than to Heaven (and laugh with the sinners like Billy Joel). Also, I have spent many a day at Sick Kids in Toronto and to seen so many innocent children suffering ,so it makes it hard to believe that a God could sit around and watch that happen. And finally I'm sort of pissed at him for taking my Dad away far too early, the world needs more men like my Dad and my kids never got the chance to meet him. I am sorry if my opinions offend anyone, but they are my opinions and I think important to know before you read. The Good Stuff * Ed Byrne's essay is hilarious and has a wonderful point about having a moratorium on any holiday advertising before mid-November * Catie Wilkins essay was wonderful, loved the fact that she sent a letter to both God and the Devil * Many of the essays are very wise on the spirit of Christmas * One of the essays mentions Buffy (David Baddiel and Arvind Ethan David) * Absolutely fascinating essay on the star of Bethlehem * Loved the conversation between and Adam Ruthorford and God in Adam's essay * David Stubbs essay was hilaious and his comments about all the ands in the bible are right on the money * Atheist Barbie - trust me - worth the price of the book * Sian Berry's green suggestions are brilliant and not at all preachy * Charlie Brookers essay on laughter is just plain wonderful The Not so Good Stuff * The essays from a science point of view are way over my head * Some of the essays are a little boring Favorite Quotes/Passages "I find him in the bedroom with the lovely Nativity book his devout -and devoted-granny has sent him (even though he hasn't been baptized and thus is slightly damned and stuff), agruing with his friend Freya." (Jenny Colgan) "I appreciate all that my mother and my grandmother tried to do. They can't be held responsible for my failed childhood birthdays-they were up against eons of ritual and tradition. Still, if I'd been alive in the fourth century, I could have been sacrificed by pagans, so perhaps I should count my proverbial blessings and be happy that all I had to deal with was losing my birthday to a holiday. It could clearly have been much worse." (Emery Emery) "Keen scholars of Judaism (or readers of the beginning of this piece) will know that, as well as the whole pig issue, dairy products and meat products must be kept separate. So, for example, if you're eating a meat-based bolognaise sauce on pasta, you couldn't put cheese on it to make it, well, nice. Cheeseburgers are out too, because they are nice. Esentially the Jewish God hates the delicious." (Matt Kirshen) "I've never believed in God, but I've never wanted to prevent anyone else from doing so" (Andrew Mueller) What I Learned * Atheist's are extremely accepting of all and really frickin funny * Most Atheists love Christmas * A lot about the Big Bang Theory and its written in an easy to read and understand way Who should/shouldn't read * This is NOT a book for those who are sensitive about religion in any way * Perfect for those who have a dry sense of humour * My family who will really enjoy and will lead to some interesting and hilarious conversations * Dad you would have loved it -- Miss ya! (Tell Mom to stop laughing when Jesse gives me a hard time - I wasn't that bad!) 4.5 Dewey's I received this from HarperPerennial in exchange for an honest review

  3. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Aw man, I wish this book had been written when I was 12 years old, starting to realize I didn't believe in any sort of a god, and in love with anything British. It really would have made me feel a lot better. Although I was raised with no particular religion whatsoever, with a family who doesn't really care about other people's individual beliefs, I still felt like it was weird to be an atheist. With this book, full as it is of smart people, I would have felt much more comfortable. As a collectio Aw man, I wish this book had been written when I was 12 years old, starting to realize I didn't believe in any sort of a god, and in love with anything British. It really would have made me feel a lot better. Although I was raised with no particular religion whatsoever, with a family who doesn't really care about other people's individual beliefs, I still felt like it was weird to be an atheist. With this book, full as it is of smart people, I would have felt much more comfortable. As a collection, I thought it was a little bit hit-or-miss. With so many contributors, things are a little repetitive. There are some real gems in here, though. I especially liked "Beloved Buzzkill" by Allison Kilkenny and "Stay Away from My Goddamn Presents" by Jamie Kilstein, as well as Phil Plait's take on the Star of Bethlehem. There are some really nice takes on the Christmas mythology and history in here, such as one commentator's explanation that midwinter has historically been far from bleak, but rather a time for feasting and resting since no work can feasibly be done. Several commentators also remarked on their love of Christmas music, which made me feel better about having some of it on my playlist pretty much year-round. Absolutely a good book, and its proceeds go to a good cause, too, Terrence Higgins Trust, which is a British charity involved with AIDS and HIV education and safe sex. (I actually feel kinda guilty about this, because I got a free copy of this book from Harper Perennial's mailing list.) Anyway, it was the perfect time of year to read this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lubinka Dimitrova

    This was a mixed bag - some of the essays were rather indifferent, while others were quite funny or insightful. I mostly enjoyed the ones written by scientists, most of them both funny AND insightful : "Because we are made from the debris of nuclear reactions that took place in exploding stars, the romantics among you might like to think of yourselves as being composed of stardust. On the other hand, cynics might prefer to think of yourselves as nuclear waste." - that's Simon Singh for you, delig This was a mixed bag - some of the essays were rather indifferent, while others were quite funny or insightful. I mostly enjoyed the ones written by scientists, most of them both funny AND insightful : "Because we are made from the debris of nuclear reactions that took place in exploding stars, the romantics among you might like to think of yourselves as being composed of stardust. On the other hand, cynics might prefer to think of yourselves as nuclear waste." - that's Simon Singh for you, delightful as always. My other favourite piece, for obvious reasons, was Kapka Kassabova's reminiscence of her baptism at the tender age of 18, in the same church I myself was baptized, when christianity suddenly re-appeared on the scene, after many years of lurking in the dark, to grab those lost souls who failed to believe it was the opium of the masses. Her reflections on the meaning of all those religious rituals for the people of her country were really enlightening and deep. I definitely appreciated the fact that there were 42 essays - that was a nice touch!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judie Holliday

    What a great book. Not every essay spoke to my atheist soul - I still don't get the people who feel the need to define themselves as anti-something else, and I don't feel the need to pontificate archly on mid-winter festivals from pre-Christian days in order to justify my own intense and entirely secular love of Christmas. However it was wonderful and warming to read what other secularists love about the holiday, and also what they've learned about themselves and about the world as they've made What a great book. Not every essay spoke to my atheist soul - I still don't get the people who feel the need to define themselves as anti-something else, and I don't feel the need to pontificate archly on mid-winter festivals from pre-Christian days in order to justify my own intense and entirely secular love of Christmas. However it was wonderful and warming to read what other secularists love about the holiday, and also what they've learned about themselves and about the world as they've made their journeys to where they are now. I loved the book for it's humour. I loved the gentle nudges and sometimes brotherly shoves to really think about things instead of just skimming along the surface. Mostly, I appreciate the editor's (and authors') attempt to 'herd cats' in this book and fold us into the arms of an accepting community where we don't have to argue, squirm or explain, where we can just be what we are.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luli

    I bought this book last December the day before going back home for winter break (which was also the day before Christmas eve). Back home, religion is a huge deal and I get a lot of crap for being an atheist. Now, I'm not trying to say that I got this book to make a point about my religious views or what have you. But when you are an atheist, Christmas is not always the best of times, especially when you are surrounded by religious people. Even if you're not an atheist, this book contains entert I bought this book last December the day before going back home for winter break (which was also the day before Christmas eve). Back home, religion is a huge deal and I get a lot of crap for being an atheist. Now, I'm not trying to say that I got this book to make a point about my religious views or what have you. But when you are an atheist, Christmas is not always the best of times, especially when you are surrounded by religious people. Even if you're not an atheist, this book contains entertaining stories from various different authors in a wide array of styles, all equally enjoyable. People who appreciate science will be entertained and those who don't know much about science will learn lots of interesting stuff! If you're not an atheist, reading this book lets you slip into our shoes for a little while (don't worry, it's not hostile or resentful against religious people). To my fellow atheists, this is a lovely book to keep around during the festivities, when you feel lost amidst all those candles and prayers and nativity scenes. Recommended for anyone who likes keeping an open mind in regards of other people's beliefs or needs an alternative to the traditional Christmas celebrations.

  7. 5 out of 5

    A.M.

    As a sceptic with a Catholic upbringing, I enjoyed this book. Rather than extremist atheist, preachy essays, I was pleasantly surprised to find short stories, scientific observations, and insightful anecdotes on the meaning of Christmas for non-believers. From stories about losing faith, to scientific studies trying to find evidence for the Christmas star, to articles on how the meaning of Christmas extends beyond Christianity -- there is bound to be something for everyone in this collection, no As a sceptic with a Catholic upbringing, I enjoyed this book. Rather than extremist atheist, preachy essays, I was pleasantly surprised to find short stories, scientific observations, and insightful anecdotes on the meaning of Christmas for non-believers. From stories about losing faith, to scientific studies trying to find evidence for the Christmas star, to articles on how the meaning of Christmas extends beyond Christianity -- there is bound to be something for everyone in this collection, no matter your religious designation. With a total of 42 essays and stories – great number, by the way – there are relatively few duds in the collection, and several absolute gems. Recommended for those seeking a little food for thought. You may not agree with everything in the book, but it certainly makes for an interesting discussion.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    A book about coping with Christmas that is almost completely devoid of wit or practical advice (even satirically) on how to deal with the social and emotional dislocations from the world's second-most-important Christian holiday after Easter. One illustration (p. 151) and only a couple of articles that deal with Christmas movies and music. In fact, most of the essayists in this book are from the UK and have their own points of view. Articles have titles like "How to Escape from Christmas" and "A A book about coping with Christmas that is almost completely devoid of wit or practical advice (even satirically) on how to deal with the social and emotional dislocations from the world's second-most-important Christian holiday after Easter. One illustration (p. 151) and only a couple of articles that deal with Christmas movies and music. In fact, most of the essayists in this book are from the UK and have their own points of view. Articles have titles like "How to Escape from Christmas" and "An Atheist's Guide to the Movies." Not recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Merrilee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Who remembers the Atheist Bus Campaign? When I first heard about it, I couldn't decide whether to be delighted or appalled. Atheism, in general, is not a movement or an organisation or in any way controlled. It's about individuals choosing logic over dogma, and rejecting the idea of an overarching consciousness controlling the universe. To have a campaign about it seemed, to me, to go against the principles behind atheism. I eventually decided it was amusing and forgot about it. Fast forward to Who remembers the Atheist Bus Campaign? When I first heard about it, I couldn't decide whether to be delighted or appalled. Atheism, in general, is not a movement or an organisation or in any way controlled. It's about individuals choosing logic over dogma, and rejecting the idea of an overarching consciousness controlling the universe. To have a campaign about it seemed, to me, to go against the principles behind atheism. I eventually decided it was amusing and forgot about it. Fast forward to Oct 2009 when Harper Collins sent me a copy of The Atheist's Guide to Christmas to review. I had no idea they'd even made a book from the campaign. It turns out that the campaign and the book were created by the British Humanist Society. Driving force Ariane Sherine has gathered 42 short stories and articles celebrating atheism, talking about life without religion, about the universe, space, humans and what we are. It's brilliant. Entertaining, moving, thought-provoking and elevating, there's something in this collection for everyone. It's not a book about bashing the religious. It's a book about Christmas for those of us who just do it for family, for friends, for companionship, without the underlying Christian message. And it's funny. The writers that editor Sherine has chosen have done a lovely job of bringing out the human in humanist, and reminding us about what it is that makes us who we are. Like the meaning of Christmas, in The Real Christmas Story by Jenny Colgan: Christmas, as a practicing Catholic child, was seen as a reward for lots and lots and lots of church. Or sharing your birthday with Jesus, in A Child was Born on Christmas Day by Emery Emery: Every birthday party I attended was clearly a day set aside specifically to celebrate one person's most important life event...but as it turns out, Jesus was born of a virgin on December 25th and they deem it a miracle. How can any kid compete with that? And I dare you to read Nick Doody's excellent article, How to Understand Christmas: A Scientific Overview and not laugh: Robins, as is well known, have an unusually high level of natural Yule - far higher than a mouse. But it's not all humour. For the scientifically inclined, there's the wonderful Starry, Starry Night by Phil Platt, or one of my favourites, The Large Hadron Collider: A Scientific Creation Story by Brian Cox: About 13.7 billion years ago, something interesting happened and our universe began. There's also a great How-To section; How to Have a Peaceful Pagan Christmas, I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas and How to Decorate the Outside of Your House, and Not Have All Your Neighbours Hate You. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection, and would recommend it as a great gift for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life. It's a book for the thinker, the skeptic, the logical. A really wonderful experience.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A wonderful collection of essays from some of the best known freethinkers, atheists, humanists, and other -ists alive today. Contributors include comedians, scientists, broadcasters, journalists, podcasters, bloggers and educators. All edited by the lady who came up with the idea for the Atheist Bus Campaign to begin with, Ariane Sherine. Despite what many, who have not read it, may have you believe, this book is not cover-to-cover anti-theism, God-bashing and miserable Scroogeyness. The vast maj A wonderful collection of essays from some of the best known freethinkers, atheists, humanists, and other -ists alive today. Contributors include comedians, scientists, broadcasters, journalists, podcasters, bloggers and educators. All edited by the lady who came up with the idea for the Atheist Bus Campaign to begin with, Ariane Sherine. Despite what many, who have not read it, may have you believe, this book is not cover-to-cover anti-theism, God-bashing and miserable Scroogeyness. The vast majority of the writers talk about how much they enjoy Christmas, and normally for the same reasons. Why a collection of 42 essays? Think about it for a minute, Mr Dent. (An homage to another brilliant mind who is, sadly, no longer with us).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gofita

    The first half had some really great essays. The second half was only so-so. Highlighted a few things, though. So I'll probably go back for some of those essays again. The first half had some really great essays. The second half was only so-so. Highlighted a few things, though. So I'll probably go back for some of those essays again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Khaela de Leon

    As with any collection of essays (and a box of chocolates!) the quality is mixed (so you really do not know what you’re gonna get!) But the good ones were quite good, the bad ones were hard to finish and the mediocre ones were just forgettable. One thing I realized though, is that you can’t stand other people’s humor pieces anymore once you’ve read David Sedaris.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elliott Bignell

    You wait years for a funny contribution to the culture wars and then 42 turn up at once. Honestly... Why 42? Well, as the introduction says, this is the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything as calculated by one deserving contributor who sadly died some years too early to see this come to fruition. Luckily, a friend of his, Richard Dawkins, was around to add his own first, witty foray into fiction writing. And a friend of Dawkins, the adorable Ariane Sherine, organised and e You wait years for a funny contribution to the culture wars and then 42 turn up at once. Honestly... Why 42? Well, as the introduction says, this is the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything as calculated by one deserving contributor who sadly died some years too early to see this come to fruition. Luckily, a friend of his, Richard Dawkins, was around to add his own first, witty foray into fiction writing. And a friend of Dawkins, the adorable Ariane Sherine, organised and edited it all. It is, of course, the Atheist Bus Campaign reified in book form. And very lighthearted it is, too. This is not a "serious" piece of work. It is some serious Xmas fun for those who wish to reclaim the midwinter festival and restore its true, pagan message of lots of food and drink with your community at the darkest part of the year. Now, you might think that this does not need reclaiming as it is what people are already doing. Believe it or not, though, there are persistent efforts by one of the later-arriving, monotheistic faiths to annexe this festival for their own aggrandisement. Just as aggressive and terrifying proselytising on buses by such a religious group provoked the light and cheerful message of the Atheist Bus Campaign, now aggressive and moralising annexation of Xmas by the same religious group has provoked this light-hearted staking-out of this common territory for the rest of us. It is a collection of 42 short pastiches and thoughtful essays on the subject of the Xmas period and what it means to us atheists and humanists. It is too common knowledge to be clever these days that Xmas is originally a pagan celebration, like Easter. Be that as it may, one is occasionally confronted by theists demanding to know why one celebrates Xmas if one does not believe in the Christian God, in whose own Book flying reindeer, bearded men in red-and-white pyjamas, totemic trees and egg-nog obviously feature most prominently. Read this book and you'll have some answers lined up. The contributors range from professional scientists and philosophers to comedians and pop stars. What they all have in common is that they are atheists and/or humanists. As a movement we are finally starting to come together in small ways like this and express our aspiration to recognition on an equal basis with supernaturalist belief groups. Not before time. In addition, the proceeds from the book go to the Terence Higgins Trust, a charity helping AIDS victims. There is no downside to this book and it is a pleasant, light read. None of the contributors threaten you with being burned alive for all eternity, they just tell you how to have some fun at Xmas without feeling incongruous. It is a great read and would make a fitting present for a humanist, or tolerant theist, friend or relative. I am not a contributor, by the way!

  14. 4 out of 5

    S.P.

    Somewhat ambivalent about this. While some of the stories are quite amusing, the philosophy, science and star gazing easily digestible, with some great pointers for further reading and entertainment, the purpose of reading it was a utter failure: What does an atheist do about Christmas? In this book, most, if they even discuss Christmas, go on about the majesty of the universe we live in, or just go out and enjoy Christmas anyway. And no one wants to be 'a Scrooge' None of this is helpful me - afte Somewhat ambivalent about this. While some of the stories are quite amusing, the philosophy, science and star gazing easily digestible, with some great pointers for further reading and entertainment, the purpose of reading it was a utter failure: What does an atheist do about Christmas? In this book, most, if they even discuss Christmas, go on about the majesty of the universe we live in, or just go out and enjoy Christmas anyway. And no one wants to be 'a Scrooge' None of this is helpful me - after all the universe is equally majestic any time of the year, I really don't need a set date to go and visit and be with friends and family, and I really DO shout 'Bah Humbug' at people around that time of year. The only writer in this book who gets close to my world of Christmas is Andrew Mueller, who doesn't much like the consumerism or religiosity of the event (good man!) but seems to struggle with a solution - other than by flying to New Zealand on Christmas eve to escape. Not helpful. So as a poor Atheist (and I don't even like this term - but I like the term 'humanist' even less), who refuses to contribute either spiritually or economically to this festive season I am none the wiser. Perhaps there is no solution. On a positive note, I picked up this book on Amazon for a penny. Maybe there is a God after all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katey

    Usually when I've read compilations of short stories and whatnot by a multitude of writers, specifically about one subject, the very contrived nature of it taints it and it doesn't work. This book works. While obviously all have a common theme (the authors are atheists), each has a different portion of the whole Christmas debacle to tackle. Comedians, scientists, writers, a musician or two: each lend their own skills to the challenge. There are a few fictional tales, but mostly non-fiction perso Usually when I've read compilations of short stories and whatnot by a multitude of writers, specifically about one subject, the very contrived nature of it taints it and it doesn't work. This book works. While obviously all have a common theme (the authors are atheists), each has a different portion of the whole Christmas debacle to tackle. Comedians, scientists, writers, a musician or two: each lend their own skills to the challenge. There are a few fictional tales, but mostly non-fiction personal accounts and opinions. Either comedic or factual, or both, I really can't say there's a horrid one in the bunch. Obviously enjoying this book helps a lot if you're already a non-believer. Even agnostics might be a bit put off (fun is poked at them once or several times). It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to read this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dolf Patijn

    The first time, I read it from cover to cover. This time I randomly picked stories, then picked some I remember liking very much the first time and so on. In between I read other books also and now I have it all read again and might pick it up next Christmas just to read a few of my favourites. This is a great book that will keep you entertained over the Christmas period. I had to laugh when I read one guy's review who was annoyed because it was not an actually guide as such. You shouldn't take The first time, I read it from cover to cover. This time I randomly picked stories, then picked some I remember liking very much the first time and so on. In between I read other books also and now I have it all read again and might pick it up next Christmas just to read a few of my favourites. This is a great book that will keep you entertained over the Christmas period. I had to laugh when I read one guy's review who was annoyed because it was not an actually guide as such. You shouldn't take everything so literally. Inside are some great Christmas stories, shared Christmas experiences and anecdotes and some essay type writings. I love it and will keep reading it. Proverbial hell, I might even make it a yearly tradition. Highly recommended Christmas reading material for those who don't believe in religious nonsense.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rui

    This is a biased review. Like so many short stories books there are some that are funny, others that just dont click with you. But since the stories are written and read by the authors they gave mw a sense of honesty and amusement. There are a variety of themes being played not just "ohh boy we are atheists and hate Christmas". No its more about what is the meaning of christmas for the author and how they grew living with it and being atheists. Some are not even funny and dwell on stars and scie This is a biased review. Like so many short stories books there are some that are funny, others that just dont click with you. But since the stories are written and read by the authors they gave mw a sense of honesty and amusement. There are a variety of themes being played not just "ohh boy we are atheists and hate Christmas". No its more about what is the meaning of christmas for the author and how they grew living with it and being atheists. Some are not even funny and dwell on stars and science and the universe, but are still good to read. My only complain is that they are too short. But 5 hours well spend and a good way to think about what does christmas means on this day and age.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nabilla

    A friend of mine (a Christian) once listed what she thought as the most important things about Christmas as in order of importance, “family, friends and food”. As an atheist God doesn't appear on my list of what's most important about Christmas either. The Atheists Guide to Christmas is a mixture of fun and serious articles for those of us who see Christmas as having very little to do with God. This isn't a book that is anti religion merely a book that says even if you don't believe in God it's A friend of mine (a Christian) once listed what she thought as the most important things about Christmas as in order of importance, “family, friends and food”. As an atheist God doesn't appear on my list of what's most important about Christmas either. The Atheists Guide to Christmas is a mixture of fun and serious articles for those of us who see Christmas as having very little to do with God. This isn't a book that is anti religion merely a book that says even if you don't believe in God it's ok to celebrate Christmas.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Minka Guides

    Firstly, thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I thought this book was a new release when I saw it on NetGalley, so I was pretty disappointed when I realised it was published 4+ years ago upon 'cracking the spine' and that definitely clouded my opinion of it. The first couple of chapters were quite sweet and amusing but by the time I got to the Richard Dawkins chapter, I was definitely skim reading. I really wanted to like this book more. Firstly, thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I thought this book was a new release when I saw it on NetGalley, so I was pretty disappointed when I realised it was published 4+ years ago upon 'cracking the spine' and that definitely clouded my opinion of it. The first couple of chapters were quite sweet and amusing but by the time I got to the Richard Dawkins chapter, I was definitely skim reading. I really wanted to like this book more. What a shame!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brad Ross-macleod

    As somebody who is not religious but who loves Christmas, it was really gratifying to hear from others like myself. You can easily get stuck between the hardcore religious "War On Christmas" people and the complete "I Hate Christmas" Scrooges. The essays in this collection show that there is lots of space between those two polar opinions and that there are many ways to join in the celebration in whatever way makes sense to you. As somebody who is not religious but who loves Christmas, it was really gratifying to hear from others like myself. You can easily get stuck between the hardcore religious "War On Christmas" people and the complete "I Hate Christmas" Scrooges. The essays in this collection show that there is lots of space between those two polar opinions and that there are many ways to join in the celebration in whatever way makes sense to you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I listened to the audiobook version, and it's a piddly complaint, but the quality is not consistent throughout the chapters (each read by the author). I enjoyed Dawkins's chapter immensely especially since I'm currently reading Wodehouse! Each chapter made me laugh at least once... well worth the price of the book, and profits go to a good cause! I listened to the audiobook version, and it's a piddly complaint, but the quality is not consistent throughout the chapters (each read by the author). I enjoyed Dawkins's chapter immensely especially since I'm currently reading Wodehouse! Each chapter made me laugh at least once... well worth the price of the book, and profits go to a good cause!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Mostly bought this book for Charlie Brooker, was a little miffed to find that his article was a measly 3 pages long, which when compared to the lengths of Dawkins' and Brian Cox's frankly insufferable writings, was a bit disappointing. The rest of it was of a varying quality, but mostly a little too self-congratulatory for my liking. Mostly bought this book for Charlie Brooker, was a little miffed to find that his article was a measly 3 pages long, which when compared to the lengths of Dawkins' and Brian Cox's frankly insufferable writings, was a bit disappointing. The rest of it was of a varying quality, but mostly a little too self-congratulatory for my liking.

  23. 4 out of 5

    DrosoPHila

    Can't think of a suitable present for that "difficult-to-buy-Christmas-presents for" relative, who happens to be a non-believer? Yeah, this will do the trick as a token gift, and might provoke a few laughs around the Christmas tree (and maybe even a few hail Marys from Grandma), but it's unlikely to be read much after Boxing Day. Can't think of a suitable present for that "difficult-to-buy-Christmas-presents for" relative, who happens to be a non-believer? Yeah, this will do the trick as a token gift, and might provoke a few laughs around the Christmas tree (and maybe even a few hail Marys from Grandma), but it's unlikely to be read much after Boxing Day.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victor Manuel

    Christmas is a celebration for all people. Its a period of time for family and friends to meet and celebrate life. In no way is a christian holiday. Should be celebrated by believers and non-believers

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bill Morgan

    I liked this book. I learned this thiroughly after reading this book: Christmas is a good holiday, and it does not require a God or god to wish your fellow man or woman good cheer and to celebrate Christmas - whatever that means to you.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jen Funk

    I really wanted more stories of us atheist who dislike the holiday season but I know I’m a grinch on my own mostly.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    It may now be as customary as carols, eggnog or nativity scenes. Odds are that each November and December there will a fracas over whether there is a "war on Christmas." No doubt, those who contend Christmas is under attack by liberals, secular humanists or what have you will say "we told you so" if and when they see The Atheist's Guide to Christmas on the bookshelves. Yet one of the things this compilation of essays demonstrates is that, like the members of non-Christian religions, atheists It may now be as customary as carols, eggnog or nativity scenes. Odds are that each November and December there will a fracas over whether there is a "war on Christmas." No doubt, those who contend Christmas is under attack by liberals, secular humanists or what have you will say "we told you so" if and when they see The Atheist's Guide to Christmas on the bookshelves. Yet one of the things this compilation of essays demonstrates is that, like the members of non-Christian religions, atheists aren't out to eradicate Christmas. Editors Robin Harvie and Stephanie Meyers break the essays into six broad categories dealing with Christmas and its celebration around the world. The 42 contributors (as Harvie and Meyers point out, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything range from astronomer Phil Plait to science writer Simon Singh and Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon to iconclast Paul Krassner and satirist Neal Pollack. And, of course, what compilation of writings by atheists would be complete without Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist who has become one of the leaders of the so called new atheist movement? Those who contend there is a concerted effort to "take Christ out of Christmas" may also see this as a trans-Atlantic salvo. Given American attitudes toward atheists (they are "less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups") and the increasing secularization of the U.K. and Europe, it should come as no surprise that most of the contributors are British. Some were involved in, and many refer to, the Atheist Bus Campaign, which bought ads on London and other buses that said, "There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and your life." In fact, those buses are the starting point for Dawkins' tongue-in-cheek "The Great Bus Mystery." The range of the essays is equally as broad, from the philosophical to the arts to personal experiences. Many take a humorous approach, such as Jennifer McCreight's suggestions in "Gifts for the Godless" or Nick Doody's overview of the science of "Christmastology." Moreover, while most of the pieces leave no doubt the authors don't believe in God or the Christmas of the Bible, these aren't essays aimed at converting (so to speak) believers or claiming theists are idiots. For example, while Adam Rutherford explains why he thinks most scientists are atheists, he observes there are many good scientists who are religious and while he doesn't understand their viewpoint, he doesn't condemn them. Other contributors recognize some value in Christmas celebrations. British singer/comedian Mitch Benn explains that rather than rejecting Christmas, it's fine for an atheist to celebrate it, even if that may seem a contradiction. "What it all comes down to is a question: what is Christmas?," he writes. "And the answer -- for all of us, believer or otherwise -- is that Christmas is whatever you want it to be." Likewise, he doesn't believe the word Christmas is exclusive territory. "It's fine. Go ahead. Say it," he says. "Christmas. There. That wasn't so bad, was it? Christmas. It's easy. Christmas." In "How to Escape from Christmas," British journalist Andrew Mueller applies somewhat uncommon phrasing to express a view that may be more common than anti-atheists believe. Although Mueller doesn't believe in God or Christianity, he says he greatly admires what he sees as the core message of the religion's namesake: "try not to spend your brief time in this corporeal realm acting like a dickhead, and be mindful of the other chap's point of view if at all possible. There are worse historical figures for whom we could insist on throwing an annual planet-wide party. Like, for example. almost all of them. Natalie Haynes expresses a similar view in "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." The values behind Christmas -- I mean the ones that should, in my view, underpin Christianity but so often seem to get lost -- are ones I think many non-Christians share. I'm not crazy about the baby, the shepherds, the kings, and the virgin birth, but loving one another, forgiveness, generosity? Most of us would agree that the world could do with a bit more of those. Others in the book may not buy into the ritual or seek alternatives, such as the essays suggesting how to celebrate a green Christmas or as a pagan. Yet part of the strength of The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is that it gives voice to a variety of perspectives from a group decried and ignored in today's America. And one need not be an atheist or irreligious to find plenty to enjoy in it. In fact, if those most likely to view the book as an attack on Christmas would take the time to read it, they might learn that the contributors and their atheist brethren aren't Grinches with tiny black hearts who want to destroy Christmas for others. In fact, the royalites from the book are going to England's largest HIV charity. Undoubtedly, though, the atheists will manage to irritate the war on Christmas set. After all, the atheists are not so doctrinaire as to insist that only those who believe can be allowed to enjoy Christmas. (Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie.)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Was mostly interesting/funny/good. Apart from the piece by Richard Dawkins, which was as tedious as the man himself. Probably best read in installments as some of the book becomes a little repetitive if you read each piece back to back.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Audible version. Listening in preparation for this year's holiday season, so I know which parts to play at our dinner. :D Audible version. Listening in preparation for this year's holiday season, so I know which parts to play at our dinner. :D

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel C.

    A motley collection of essays. Some are poignant; many are funny. (As a non-believer I personally don't have any problems celebrating Christmas, a formerly pagan and now largely secular holiday.) A motley collection of essays. Some are poignant; many are funny. (As a non-believer I personally don't have any problems celebrating Christmas, a formerly pagan and now largely secular holiday.)

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