While others have posted non-fiction—much of it excellent and worth checking out—I wanted to deviate a bit (not surprisingly for me) and recommend THE book that got me thinking about my beliefs.
“Franny & Zooey” by JD Salinger. I loved “Catcher in the Rye” and so, in my mid-20s and casting about for something to read, I picked up F&Z. First time through, I hardly understood it but thought it was pretty darn funny. But next time through I was fascinated and cried tears of sheer joy at the end.
It got me reading about different religions and philosophies (I’d grown up Catholic and had always just thought Thank God We’re RIGHT!), as well as Zen Buddhism, the history of religious belief and finally and quite happily, Sam’s books.
I think F&Z is a good “transition” book for people who (like I was at the time) are just beginning to question the religion they grew up with but find it a little scary to imagine a world without the big, strong, omnipotent Daddy in the Sky. Plus, I think it does give a wonderful way to look at the world and other people.
I encounter a lot of “angry” atheists, and thanks to F&Z I’m not one of them. I guess I’m a happy, loving, forgiving, compassionate atheist. And I hope we all can be.
If you haven’t read it, give it a try. It’s short, funny, and yet deceptively deep.