Cannonball Read V: The Atheist's Guide to Christmas by Ariane Sherine
My first review for the Cannonball Read is of the book that ended my 2012. With certain media outlets decrying the "War on Christmas" ostensibly being waged by the ungodly among us, it makes sense to find out what a certain demographic really thinks. The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is an anthology of essays, stories, and anecdotes from various non-believers mostly from the U.K. There's a wide variety of stories, from the curmudgeonly to the ecstatic.
A particular favourite was Lucy Porter's list of alternative media to consume during the holiday, but there is also a beautiful scientific creation story posed by Brian Cox, awesome advice from Siân Berry for having a greener Christmas, snarky suggestions for outdoor Christmas lights from a fellow named Jon Holmes, and abundance of other tales to fit nearly every mood I can think of. Except lust, there was very little of that. And I forgive the editor for that choice.
This book is definitely not for everybody. When someone at worked noticed what I was reading, they asked "Does it give both sides?" as though a book guiding a heathen through the season might be concerned with what a believer might do. No, I informed my dear co-worker that it is an admittedly one-sided book, and unapologetically so. It's not making an argument, it's preaching to the choir, if I may use that phrase in this context. This book is not for people who think the universe is only around six thousand years old. It's not for people who thing that dinosaurs and humans used to hang out together. Or maybe it is for those people, if they're also people who like having their preconceptions challenged just a bit.
This book is written for non-believers who are wondering how to fit this religious-ish institution into their lives, or wondering how to avoid it. It's written for people who honestly want to know what atheists think like, it's written for laughs and smirks, and some damn good ideas for next holiday time. It really was written for people like me.
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