Review: Humanist Books

On the 9th October we met at Kirkdale Bookshop, for an evening of recommendations and bookish chat. The doors opened at 7pm and there was time for chatting and browsing, along with drink and nibbles, before we settled to listen to three members recommend books. Their presentations are all attached below.

We also intended to read Andrew Copson’s ‘five books’ recommendations but we ran out of time! Do go and check them out if you are interested in other books related to Humanism.

Many thanks to Kirkdale Bookshop for being very friendly and helpful hosts.

To start with, Sam Becker (Chair) gave a short introduction to what he thought the term ‘Humanist Books’ might mean:

Humanism can be defined fairly straightforwardly: 

Belief that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. Humanists trust the scientific method, evident and reason to discover truths about the universe and have placed human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethical decision making. 

Sightly harder to define when applying humanism to things, eg. books. In a sense nearly all books could be defined as humanist in one way of another but obviously we need to narrow things down. 

I believe there is a spectrum: 
On one side are books directly about humanism and humanist thought/history etc. 
Then books of philosophy, ethics, politics, economics, etc that touch on humanist thought or way of looking at the world without directly being about humanism. 
Then works of fiction/poetry that have a direct or more indirect humanist slant – maybe the book has this as an underlying theme or the author’s own humanist outlook affects their output. 

We hope that we will be able to touch on all these categories in our recommendations and discussions this evening. 

Recommended books:

How do you live? by Genzaburo Yoshino

    The Age of AI and The Coming Wave by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher

    George Eliot and Middlemarch