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Susan Jacoby's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Susan Jacoby recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Susan Jacoby's favorite book recommendations of all time.



Augustine's Confessions is one of the most influential and most innovative works of Latin literature. Written in the author's early forties in the last years of the fourth century A.D. and during his first years as a bishop, they reflect on his life and on the activity of remembering and interpreting a life. Books I-IV are concerned with infancy and learning to talk, schooldays, sexual desire and adolescent rebellion, intense friendships and intellectual exploration. Augustine evolves and analyses his past with all the resources of the reading which shaped his mind: Virgil and Cicero,... more

Susan JacobyThe Confessions is a book that everybody should read. It is seminal, if you can excuse the expression. (Source)

Carlos EireSt Augustine of Hippo was one of the first thinkers to struggle with the concepts of time, memory and eternity. (Source)

Richard HarriesHe was a wonderful, wonderful writer and a deeply passionate man. He was very sensual. (Source)

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The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason represents the results of years of study and reflection by Thomas Paine on the place of religion in society.

Paine wrote: "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity."

The cool rationale of Paine's The Age of Reason influenced religious thinking throughout the world; and its pervasieve influence continues to the present day.

Recommended by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Susan Jacoby, and 2 others.

Neil deGrasse TysonWhich books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] The Age of Reason (Paine) [to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world. (Source)

Susan JacobySimply put, this book excoriates the idea that any religious book was written by God. They were all written by man, and while many of them have excellent principles, they are principles that any man can discern through his own reason. You don’t have to have all these supernatural events. He specifically mentions the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible and the Koran – the big three. These sacred... (Source)

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On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for "Vanity Fair," he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity... more
Recommended by Phil Libin, Susan Jacoby, and 2 others.

Phil LibinJust got Hitchens' latest book "Mortality" from Amazon. Opened the box and it finally sank in: I'm never gonna get this signed. (Source)

Susan JacobyOh for God’s sake! For everybody who was a prominent atheist – Voltaire, Paine, Ingersoll – these rumours always circulate, that they converted on their deathbed. The reason I recommend Mortality to everyone is that one of the things that’s always asked about atheists – and I think it’s a fair question – is how you can survive the terrible things that life hands out, if you don’t believe in a... (Source)

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The God Delusion

In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hard-hitting, impassioned, but humorous, rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational but potentially deadly. In a preface written for the paperback edition, Dawkins responds to some of the controversies the book has incited. This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of... more

Susan JacobyRichard Dawkins is very funny. One of the reasons for reading The God Delusion is that it will disabuse you of the idea – which is a common stereotype of atheists – that they are utterly humourless. You hear this over and over again. I’m often invited to college campuses to give lectures, and often they’re religious schools – not fundamentalist schools, but colleges of a historically religious... (Source)

Vote Dem For The Planet@KimBledsoe14 @Goodbye_Jesus @Ian313f There were a lot of rebels and drifters in those days against the repressive regime. They had followers. Have you read “The God Delusion”? Great book. (Source)

Antonio EramThis book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path. (Source)

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Equally adept at fiction (a winner of the National Jewish Book Award) and philosophy (a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation genius prize), Rebecca Newberger Goldstein now gives us a novel that transforms the great debate between faith and reason into an exhilarating romance of both heart and mind.
At the center: Cass Seltzer, a professor of psychology whose book, The Varieties of Religious Illusion, has become a surprise best seller. He's been dubbed the atheist with a soul, and his sudden celebrity has upended his life. He wins over the stunning Lucinda Mandelbaum-the goddess of game...
Recommended by Steven Pinker, Susan Jacoby, and 2 others.

Steven PinkerWhen it came out 10 years ago I said it was the best book either of us had ever written. Authors are always proudest of their latest, but this remains a masterpiece: Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Goldstein (Source)

Susan JacobyThis is a novel. It’s about a professor who has written a book about atheism, and how religion and atheism play out in everyday life. It shows the thought processes of atheism and religion, what they do and don’t have in common. One of the thing that’s interesting about it is that the author, Rebecca Goldstein, was raised in a highly orthodox, Jewish Hasidic household and this background makes... (Source)

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