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The Young Atheist's Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Alom Shaha grew up in a strict Bangladeshi Muslim community in South-East London in the 1970s and 80s. He was expected to go to mosque regularly and recite passages in Arabic from the Quran, without being told what they meant. Alom spent his teenage years juggling two utterly different worlds: a chaotic, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic family life on a council estate, an ...more
Board book, First, 220 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Scribe (first published 2012)
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Ruth Seeley
Jul 23, 2012 Ruth Seeley rated it really liked it
In his foreword to Alom Shaha's Young Atheist's Handbook, A.C. Grayling talks about the importance of developing a questioning mind. Shaha quotes Ani DiFranco when she asks, 'What if God is just an idea/Someone put in your head?' In The Young Atheist's Handbook, Alom Shaha asks – and answers for himself – the question, 'What if God is just an outmoded concept we no longer require now that we have generated more data about our universe than any one of us can ever hope to successfully process?' An ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Meetu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book for me is about a Superhero. A lotus rising from the mud. A human rising from inhumanity. Like the Superheroes song goes:

Cause he's stronger than you know
A heart of steel starts to grow

When you've been fighting for it all your life
You've been struggling to make things right
That's how a superhero learns to fly
(Every day, every hour
Turn the pain into power)

I read this book after I read an article on facebook that said this book has been issued free, by a humanist association to young pr
Jun 18, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing
Alom Shaha's first book is part autobiography/part handbook about growing up in a Muslim family and losing faith. Honest, emotional and beautifully written Alom lets us in to his world and shows us how you can live a good life without god. From the death of his mother, the abuse of his father, the troubles associated with going to a predominantly white school and the beauty of falling in love, Alom holds back nothing in slowly explaining how god is not essential in all aspects of life.

Where othe
Mar 31, 2012 Jackie rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It feels like a conversation. There are moments of wry humour that made me grin, some utterly heartbreaking bits that had me in tears and as a whole it is never less than warm, compassionate and intelligent in the discussion of why someone might choose to identify themselves as an atheist and the strange feeling of freedom that comes from accepting sole responsibility for one's own happiness and fulfillment.

You do not need to be an atheist to enjoy this book, and it would be a
Reading this book felt like someone taking the words right out of my mind and writing them down more articulately than I could have. It feels like having a conversation with a good friend. I placed a sticky note on every idea I agreed with, and every idea I hadn't thought of before, and I now have a book exploding with little pink papers. The writing is unpretentious and genuine. The ideal would be for everyone to read it, but I think "The Young Atheist's Handbook" would be most useful for agnos ...more
Ana Rînceanu
I was surprised how easy to read this book was, even though it features science, philosophy and morality. Alom Shaha wrote this book for anyone curious to hear the overwhelming amount of knowledge that shows that we as humans are influenced more by biology and society than by the threat of an imaginary sky deity. Interesting stuff. I say give it a go!
Jun 17, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
I really enjoyed this autobiographical apologetic for atheism. There is a gentleness and sensitivity in the author's approach that permits a relaxed engagement with the ideas that contrasts with the more strident writings of some other atheists. It's a very personal narrative that wraps within it some of the traditional arguments against theism which provides the book with a seductive pull that enables one to listen to the author rather than react adversarially - at least, that's how I experienc ...more
Brian Macken
Oct 10, 2012 Brian Macken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an honest, humane account of one man's feelings on religion, and how he came to develop these feelings. If you have any interest in the topic of religion, this is a readable, great account of the atheist perspective.
May 07, 2012 Marina rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A great read.
Barnet Humanist
Dec 08, 2016 Barnet Humanist rated it really liked it
The Young Atheist's Handbook is not what it says on the tin. In fact, as I was reading, a series of brilliantly clever puns and critiques of this title were buzzing about my brain, ready to pounce on Shaha's poetic licence in producing what is effectively a well-crafted but badly-titled memoir.

And then I saw the light. Well, not really. I read the last chapter. Spoiler alert.

The concept of this book is properly addressed in the final chapter, where Shaha's punchline hits home. There simply can't
May 27, 2014 Adrian rated it it was ok
This book was sent to schools by the Humanist society to help young people live a good life as an Atheist; perhaps it’s hard to do that? Anyway, as our school was sent a copy I thought I had better read it to see how helpful it is.
I have to say that some of this book was informative to me as I am not a Muslim, and the writer became an Atheist from a Muslim background. So there were things he said about his upbringing and original religious positions that I have often thought, ‘I wonder if being
Nov 10, 2016 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Should be in all schools
Ant Ryan
Aug 08, 2012 Ant Ryan rated it it was amazing
I’d heard that the author’s initial idea to write a handbook, to help his students make informed decisions on what to believe with regard to religion, had been modified by his literary agent. They wanted it to tell his very interesting story of a personal journey from a religious upbringing to atheism. Alom Shaha not only succeeded with this task, but in my opinion surpassed it!

My wife actually picked up the book for a quick scan before I did, and commented that it “sounded far more interesting
Apr 04, 2014 ZDR rated it liked it
Firstly, I enjoyed this book. The writing is top notch: it is human, relatable, and sensitive. Alom tries hard to be fair and balanced, to not generalize, and to understand the point of view of the group he's writing against.

But the book didn't quite do it for me in a few ways. First, I wasn't really sure what it was supposed to be. The title says 'Handbook', but as Alom himself says, it isn't really. There is a lot of very interesting biographical information about Alom's parents, siblings, and
Damon Young
Mar 14, 2014 Damon Young rated it really liked it
Science is vital for Shaha but he argues that knowledge alone cannot make a good life. In one telling passage, he remembers the role models who guided him: ‘‘They were all adults whom I liked – indeed, loved – and respected, and they showed me how to be good through their actions.’’ Virtues require reflection but they are best taught with exemplification, not lecturing or hectoring. Likewise for science and philosophy: education is more than the peddling of well-packaged facts.

The Young Atheist’
Sep 01, 2012 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Even though Alom and I come from very different backgrounds I found myself relating extremely well to his transition from a child of moderately religious parents to an adult who is a vocal atheist. The questions that he asked himself, and others, through the years were the same ones that I've always been asking. He did a very nice job of illustrating that his transition to atheism was not only an intellectual one but in large part an emotional one. The fact that he could share his journey withou ...more
Pete F
Apr 02, 2015 Pete F rated it really liked it
I have recently lost my Christian faith and saw this book in the library and read it avidly. It was just what I wanted to hear. Despite the title, it can usefully be read by people of any age including 58-year old codgers like myself! It is not exactly a handbook, more an autiobiography explaining how one man defied his strict Muslim upbringing to become an atheist, or as some would call him, a Kafir, an infidel or apostate.

Although this is the story of a former Muslim who became an atheist, it
Robert Butler
Jun 09, 2013 Robert Butler rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Celticgiraffe
The author, Alom Shaha, has been in my Twitter circle for years as a physics teacher but I’d not got around to reading his book as the title put me off (it made me think of some kind of anti-bible). Following lots of discussion about this book from my circle of science teachers on Twitter I decided to check it out again. After reading some reviews I found out that this book was a mixture of autobiography and reflections on atheism and decided to give it a go.

I found the book extremely easy to re
Jennifer Clark
May 16, 2015 Jennifer Clark rated it it was amazing
This wonderful book talks about the authors thoughts and feelings about the non existence of God and the freedom of life away from religion. I loved how he mixed in memoirs of his childhood growing up in a Bangladeshi muslin community in inner city London and how events shaped his views of non religion. The funny, sad and very honest story of his mother's death, relationships with his siblings and his abusive father would have made for an excellent autobiography of its own. The arguments for ath ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Beth rated it really liked it
I don't normally read non-fiction as I can rarely get through a whole book without being distracted by my fiction TBR pile. This however was so fascinating and interesting that I read it straight through and kept going back to re-read passages which I wanted to give more thought to. I found the style of writing a perfect mix between fact and biographical reminiscence and there were some really excellent points made on a range of different subjects. I loved the Narnia chapter because I am fascina ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
My appreciation of this book comes from the fact that Shaha is writing not only from his experience but also from his heart, that is, why he truly embrace his atheistic stance. He does so by making this book part autobiography and by unpacking the reasons as to why an atheistic lens (rather than a religious one) is the best way of viewing and accepting the purpose to life. The life we have and the purpose that we determine and strive for. Given his religious background it was inevitable for Shah ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Suliman rated it liked it
I had expected to read something more of a scientific than this. It's true that the author mentioned that it's a book of his own conversion experience from Islam "which I liked it a bit", but I really had big expectations! Instead of him talking about facts and arguments about religion, and the troubles he had to face when he confronted his Islamic community, he talks about his "literally" childhood memories and a little bit of racism he had to face as a brown Bangladeshi child in UK. And when h ...more
Humayun Opu
Jun 28, 2016 Humayun Opu rated it it was amazing
Islam Is False

These are some of the recommended books. More than any book one should read quran in his/her own language. Muslims waste countless hours in saying their prayers and wasting time killing themselves in fasting and other stupid rituals but they don't care to read quran in their own language to know what it really says. My biggest problem with quran is its message of hate towards non-muslims.

Islams' ugly secrets had been hidden for centuries, with information availabe to very few and
Katy Noyes
May 14, 2013 Katy Noyes rated it it was amazing
I really respect the author for the tone he takes with this book. It isn't condescending, angry or intolerant. He covers the main arguments for atheism while putting them into the context of his own Muslim upbringing and into adolescence/young adulthood.
Shaha's book could be read by a teenager or adult, it has plenty of food for thought. While it doesn't really hold anything new for a non-believer, all the basic arguments are there for someone considering their position on matters of theism.
I es
Emil Lenc
Mar 24, 2013 Emil Lenc rated it really liked it
The book is basically Alom's life story as a Bangladeshi-born boy growing up in a strict Muslim community in south-east London and the formative experiences that eventually led him question how to live without being tied to what his parents, preachers and teachers told him to believe. He writes in a very non-provocative style (the complete opposite to say Richard Dawkin's "The God Delusion") and brings in some great input as a result of his science teaching experience (and the importance of unde ...more
Sep 03, 2012 cerebus rated it really liked it
Excellently written. Whilst acknowledging in the book that many of the points made in the book have been made before, I have rarely seen them expressed as clearly and succinctly as they are here, something which will make the book very useful for someone who may be heading towards atheism, but isn't sure exactly what it entails. The personal elements of the book also make it easier to identify with the author; despite coming from a different culture and religion I found myself identifying with t ...more
David Civil
Sep 12, 2014 David Civil rated it really liked it
Whilst not likely to cause a philosophical earthquake Alom Shaha has created something of equal importance to add to the work of Dawkins, Grayling and Harris: A highly personal account which provides a moving portrayal of Shaha's realisation that he could live a good life without god. Whilst Dawkins and Grayling can struggle to articulate their views to the masses and those from different backgrounds, 'The Young Atheist's Handbook' will no doubt fill this gap in Atheistic literature and hopefull ...more
Sophie Stringfellow
Jul 09, 2014 Sophie Stringfellow rated it liked it
A really readable, personal account of one man's life as an atheist. Although his arguments won't be new to anyone who has made the conversion for themselves, I feel like this book would have helped me through my doubts if I'd read it back when I was a super religious child. The memoir style will work for some and it won't for others, but I reckon it will be helpful for people who are put off interrogating their faith because they don't like too much heavy philosophising.
Sep 23, 2016 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Styling this as a handbook is a touch misleading, I suspect putting off some who would enjoy it and disappointing others looking for, well, a handbook. What it is is an often moving account of Alom Shaha's childhood and eventual loss of faith, combined with an overview of some of the arguments against believing in god and an exploration of how religion can be a harmful influence on society. A comparatively short but enjoyable read.
Matt Kelly
Mar 16, 2012 Matt Kelly rated it it was amazing
The personal journey from a man who grew up in a Muslim community to investigating his own views on religion and the world. A very sane and balanced look at religion, without being unnecessarily condemning of any of it's followers. Very refreshing after having read De Botton recently, and I would highly recommend this to anyone who is doing some soul searching of their own, especially one brought up in a religious environment.
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“In many ways, accepting there is no God to provide meaning and purpose to our lives can, I believe, force us to create meaningful purposes ourselves.” 4 likes
“Religion allows people to ignore the needs of real beings in favour of the supposed wishes of a being that does not exist.” 3 likes
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