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The Atheist's Guide to Christmas

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,175 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
A collection of prominent atheists give their humorous and serious tips for surviving the Christmas season In June 2008, Ariane Sherine saw a bus advertisement for a Christian organization informing her in no uncertain terms that non-Christians would 'spend all eternity in torment in hell'. Ariane suggested a modest proposal: if enough atheists stumped up a fiver, then ath ...more
Paperback, 307 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published September 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism, essays, ho-ho-ho
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.

Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Rayment
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
Judie Holliday
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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 ...more
Nov 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to A.M. by: Merrilee
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Elliott Bignell
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Minka Guides
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Brad Ross-macleod
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
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.
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Victor Manuel
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bill Morgan
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Sep 06, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
What a cute cover!
Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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 a ...more
Very mixed bag. Some essays were quite funny, some thought provoking, some pretentious. It was nice in audio format to have the writers read their own pieces but a few were really monotone.
M.G. Mason
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The debate comes up every year, “What do atheists do at Christmas?” Do we shun it? Do we complain to shopping centre managers demanding they remove nativity scenes because we feel repressed by them? Well, no we don’t. Though some might ignore or shun it for personal reasons, atheism is rarely (if ever) a reason in itself and this book sets out to demonstrate just why this is the case. It is a collection of essays written by prominent non-believers from the worlds of science, philosophy, journali ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it
What I Can Tell You:
As someone who holds onto the belief of God with all my might and who celebrates Christmas and all that goes along with it, I found this book to be quite interesting. I have never met an Atheist but if I did would never judge them as I would hope they wouldn't judge me.

The stories range from Neil Pollack's Revenge of the Christmas Spirit where his son receives for Christmas a Sponge Bob, Square Pants Connect Four and he decides to play Santa and give the "already have" gift
Jo Bennie
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: s
This is a thought provoking set of essays by some of the leading atheists of our time. The essays address the dilemmas faced by atheists at Christmas, fundamentally whether or not it is hypocritical to celebrate the season if you do not believe in a god or gods. The Atheist's Guide to Christmas naturally touches on the well worn grooves of the fact that most things to do with Christmas are very far from the Christian message of love, peace and tolerance. That setting aside the madness of Black F ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say about this book. It is wonderfully festive and fully understands that Christianity and Christmas need not go together hand in hand. Despite the 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season' nonsense that you see spread about during Christmas, the Atheist's Guide to Christmas does a good at rationalising the idea that this celebration is much much older than the (mostly) mythical content of the Bible, and that 'unbelievers' (although definitely not unenlightened) have equal right to take ow ...more
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Atheism in general 1 5 Feb 23, 2014 08:05AM  
Really enjoying this so far 1 15 Nov 10, 2009 10:22PM  
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Robin Harvie is an atheist, publisher and author of Why We Run: The Story of an Obsession. He lives in London.

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“The scientific creation story has majesty, power and beauty. and is infused with a powerful message capable of lifting our spirits in a way that its multitudinous supernatural counterparts are incapable of matching. It teaches us that we are the products of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution and the mechanism by which meaning entered the universe, if only for a fleeting moment in time. Because the universe means something to me, and the fact that we are all agglomerations of quarks and electrons in a complex and fragile pattern that can perceive the beauty of the universe with visceral wonder, is, I think, a thought worth raising a glass to this Christmas.” 7 likes
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