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

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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  36 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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Community Reviews

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Ruth Seeley
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
Joe
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...more
Shanna
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
Jackie
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...more
Steve
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
ZDR
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...more
Damon Young
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’...more
Adrian
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...more
Beth
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
Brian Macken
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.
Jim
I thought the book was great. Everyone should read it.
David Civil
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
Marina
I loved this book. A great read.
Robyn
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
Antony Ryan
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...more
Sophie Stringfellow
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.
Robert Butler
Jun 09, 2013 Robert Butler rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Kelly Paxino
While the specific details of the authors upbringing and schooling differed from my own life, so many of the opinions, views and thought processes (and conclusions) match my own. To me, this wasn't so much an argument for or against religion but provides a point of reference for anyone who has gone through or is going through the stressful processes of analysing deeply held beliefs.
Henry Slater
Alom came and talked at a local Skeptics in the Pub meet. He's a wonderful speaker and based on his words I bought this book. And I didn't regret it one bit, a fantastic, personal look at Atheism from a Muslim background which was really refreshing.
Emil Lenc
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
Katy Noyes
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...more
Graham Knight
An autobiographical account of the author's departure from Islam to reason. Accessible but doesn't quite match up to the "greats", although some good points are made.
cerebus
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
Johnny Appleseed
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.
Matt Kelly
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.
Rachel
One of my favourite books of the year, a genuinely interesting and emotive book. Alom is open and honest as well as humorous in all the right places which makes it a pleasure to read. I was brought up in a relatively religion free household and still found I identified with a lot of the issues and it's a must read for everyone, no matter which side of this debate you fall on.
Pete
Scientifically critical of religion without being malicious, his reasoning is beautifully explained and well thought-out.
Based around his own personal story, it is both engaging and inspiring.

Everyone should read this book regardless of which side of the fence they currently stand. Worth revisiting often and sharing with others.
Jason Swarbrick


Really loved this book. Very emotive for me and it has helped me to realise where I am with my atheism. I am not alone and I don't need to feel guilty. Wonderfully written, well researched and you feel Alom's journey was not an easy one. Recommended to those who need a rational atheist perspective that is respectful and well written.
Hayley
Not even sure where to start, but this book made me think a lot about a few different aspects of my life in a new light.

It-and its author- also appears to have turned me into some sort of schoolgirl-esque groupie gibbering wreck who is entirely incapable of playing it cool.

Shame is over-rated anyway.
Likeahumanbeingonlysmaller
I really enjoyed this book. It was thought provoking and provided lots of interesting references if you want to explore his ideas and arguments further. Also, his favourite book is one of mine, which I've added to my list to re-read!
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You don't have to go it alone... 3 9 Sep 27, 2012 03:14AM  
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The Young Atheist's Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God The Young Atheist''s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God

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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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