Books that make you question your most fundamental beliefs

  1. I would personally recommend his books "Debt: the first 5000 years" and "The dawn of everything" even more. They are quiet different from Bullshit jobs and more historic, but they certainly broke my belief about hunter gather societies and the invention of money.

  2. {{Exhalation}} by Ted Chiang. It is a series of sci-fi short stories that deal with all sorts of existential subjects. There is one in particular, Omphalos, where a characters core beliefs are directly challenged.

  3. YES. Everyone needs to read this. Omphalos specifically covers science vs religion, but not in the way you’d expect. I’d say there isn’t a bad story in the whole collection. If you’re interested in things like scientific revelation, right and wrong, and fate/supernatural/destiny, please check out this book. Ted Chiang is probably one of the best sci-fi authors out there today.

  4. I've not read {{Exhalation}} yet but am about half way through Chiang's {{Stories of Your Life and Others}}. Some really excellent short stories.

  5. Agreed on {{Man’s Search for Meaning}} . Anyone who hasn’t read it, just go check out Logotherapy- that is, we are able to find meaning in suffering. And how to go about making that a way of life.

  6. what does meditations make you question? isnt it pretty much just practical advice like "wake up early and work hard"

  7. I’m actually reading it now, almost finished, took me 6 weeks… I agree, very deep. Highly recommended.

  8. I had to read Spirit Catches You in college like 8 years ago. Incredible book that I still think about from time to time and refer to when discussing politics and social stuff.

  9. I want to read it but I'm not from a science background, just a normal college kid who wants to learn some cosmic knowledge that is understandable to him. Is it worth reading?

  10. {{Manufacturing Consent}} by Noam Chomsky is a good one. Really opens your eyes to how a lot of news media serves as propaganda to reinforce the status quo. Might not be quite as mind blowing today because everyone has kinda internalized the fact that the news is lying to you, but it's full of specific explanations and real life references that creates a more concrete understanding instead of a general conspiratorial mistrust of the media.

  11. Jorge Luis Borges short story ‘The Immortals.’ English translations are freely available online. Totally changed my perspective on life, death, eternity, and existence. Many of his short stories are mind-bending and completely original.

  12. This is a specific and unusual suggestion but when I read {{Why Does He Do That?}} by Lundy Bancroft it made me question my religion because I saw so many parallels with the type of abusive people described in the book and the god I had been worshipping

  13. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I read it about 20 years ago and I still think about parts of it on a regular basis.

  14. I was raised in a very religious family. Then in my 20s I read The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, and I was an atheist by the time I finished the book.

  15. The Bible. I had only read the parts my church wanted be to learn (I got a brand new bible for my efforts) until my son was about 10. We read something every night and we’re regular churchgoers so when it was time to pick a new book I said “whaddya say we read the Bible all the way through? He was game (sweet boy) and we made it far as Leviticus before I snapped it shut mid-verse and sighed “what a load of shit.” Completely rejected the entire idea of god and Christianity and religion, in general. Never darkened the doorway of a church again.

  16. My favorite part of this book was the concept of pseudocontext. It also ruined modern conversation for me, but that's a me-problem.

  17. Just so everyone knows Misquoting Jesus has faced it's fair share of critisism for not nessessarily being the most well recearched book and most biblical scholars would disagree with many things the book includes. I would recommend no one to take the books statements as facts but more as a theory with some factors that have been confirmed to be factual.

  18. I’m reading that now and actually I agree. I thought it would be pretty nicely aligned with my ideals already, but just today it challenged some of that and gave me new perspective. It’s pretty hefty for a short book.

  19. Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quit Emotional Eating changed my utterly dysfunctional relationship with food into a healthy, enjoyable one.

  20. I understood my own father's alcohol addiction for the first time after reading Steven King's: The Shining. Also how having unwanted children is the bough that breaks a strained marriage.

  21. Read books by the British political philosopher John Gray. Start with Straw Dogs. Brilliant, erudite and I believe his diagnosis of the modern human condition is much more accurate than the common one. It was tough to accept at first but you get used to it.

  22. Someone gave me a Louise Hay book once. I only read a bit of it but one part did change my life. I was super religious and constant worried about me and people I care about going to hell. There was a part where she asks what beliefs do you have that aren't serving you. And then think do you have any proof that this belief is actually real. It made me think my faith was really just a feeling and I have no proof. It would be a massive weight off my shoulders to stop believing in hell. I don't have faith in anything anymore. Hell may exist but it probably doesn't. I'm not gonna waste my life stressing about things that may not even happen. As long as you try to be a good person you probably won't go to hell anyway. God is an asshole if he does do that.

  23. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Do not take all things Quinn says as true. But it will make you think about the world and society differently. It shifted my worldview completely. Although looking back a lot of things are exaggerated, not accurate. But still a meaningful book in my life.

  24. Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” fundamentally changed my perception of the universe and the interconnected nature of all living things. Whitman posits the idea that we are all made of the same atoms, the same essence, and due to that, the idea of true fluidity and equality emerge.

  25. Easy - Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, along with Cat’s Cradle. Really helped me zoom out of the little things that were problematic in my life.

  26. Probably an unpopular opinion/ recommendation, but The Bible. Growing up around Christians, I though I believed certain things but then after reading the whole thing myself it helped me establish my own beliefs as as agnostic.

  27. {{Whipping Girl}} by Julia Serano changed my life quite a bit, but ehm~, it takes a specific kind of person to appreciate, I think.

  28. {{A Ring of Endless Light}}. It is YA, but it changed my perspective on life, over and over. It’s about choosing life over death. The protagonist is a 15-year-old girl, very mature. She is visiting her dying Grandfather, and watches him slowly lose his mind. At the same time, she forges a bond with dolphins, who help her with her grief. Many other dark things happen to this teenage girl, and eventually has to choose. She helped me make my own right choice every time I read it. It was my salvation, tbh.

  29. {{A Quaker book of Wisdom}} really made me question the way I think of religion as a whole, what true friendship means, and what it is to stand for and with your beliefs. I would highly recommend no matter what religion you practice, if any at all. It’s beautifully written and can easily be finished in a day.

  30. Scythe. The concept of a utopian society where there's really no punishment and the only cost is you could be randomly chosen to die absolutely fucked with my head and I loved every second of it

  31. Exhalation by Ted Chang. Each short story gives you an opportunity to wrestle with a serious theme like free will.

  32. The Convoluted Universe by Dolores Cannon. It’s amazing how much this book opened my eyes and “clicked”

  33. Waking Up by Sam Harris is really good - the section on maladies where connections between brain hemispheres are lost is especially profound

  34. I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis after having been a devoted Catholic for a long time. I really had bought into the life script, and then I read all in the same time period The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and the bible. It lead me down an incredible path, and I’m so glad those books opened my eyes when they did. I am very much not a Christian or catholic anymore.

  35. Oddly enough, "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene. I'm personally somewhere between agnostic and nihilist, and have been my whole life (I was raised passively with church, and went to a religious high school). I read this book maybe three times to make sure I got it. Nobody had ever made me feel, deeply, their Christianity as a truly spiritual thing up to then. Greene was Catholic, which would 99% of the time get my cynicism up. But the character development in this relatively short book gave me a glimpse into the human aspect of his religion in a way I've not experienced since. I'm not converted or anything, but it opened my eyes to a different and (is it rude to say?) legitimate way of living. We're all just people. We're all flawed.

  36. That's really interesting. I read this and thought it was pretty good but I didn't get that sense of depth of religious feeling you're talking about. Might have to revisit.

  37. {{Atomic Habits}} is good for orienting yourself towards building good habits and eliminating bad ones based on your goals and values using psychology.

  38. If you're a Christian, actually reading the Bible, cover to cover, tends to be a rough go, hard to keep faith through all that.

  39. Probably not a popular choice but 'Atlas Shrugged' did make me have a more moderate view of politics and capitalism than my younger self. It should be read as a story though and not some kind of Libertarian bible.

  40. Gun germs and steel, by J.Diamond. Read it and have the racist taken right out of you. There are some detractors but on the whole it's accurate.

  41. The Bible. It’s a very popular opinion but I don’t think most of our natural opinions in life are ours, they somewhat derived from this book or another religious book just like it. And I’ve always wondered- is what I think is right, really the right thing? Or do I believe these are the right things because it’s what’s been engrained for generations? Idk. I think about it often when making tough decisions.

  42. I highly suggest you read the book Dominion by Tom Holland (himself an atheist, but not an anti-Christian if that makes sense) - which will answer some of the things you're wondering about. Why do my morals seem so...Christian?

  43. {{Animal Liberation}} by Peter Singer is maybe the closest. I read it for a book club and wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea. I wasn't a crazy meat-eater but thought I had thought through the logic and ethics of the situation and was more or less fine with it.

  44. {{the book of strange new things}} changed the game for me, in two major ways. Tw: sh but it’s helped me want to never again hurt myself, and helped teach me to cherish my body and physical presence. It also opened my eyes about religion, and the point of it all.

  45. Heaven and Hurricanes. It’s about a guy who’s forced to question his own beliefs about truth, purpose, meaning, religious, and morality.

  46. Plato’s Republic (the Alan Bloom translation) This book could challenge the foundational beliefs of a rock. It seeks to define the meaning of justice, wisdom, government, politics, etc. Others that have challenged my beliefs were The Prince by Machiavelli, Politics by Aristotle, and Two Treatise of Government by John Locke

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