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Summary

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is a fantastic listen that was edited by Ariane Sherine, who started the Atheist Bus Campaign in response to an evangelical Christian bus advertisement that gave the URL of a website "telling non-Christians they would spend 'all eternity in torment in hell'."

With the backing of Richard Dawkins, officially supporting the UK's first atheist advertising initiative, Sherine managed to compile a wonderful concoction of the world's most entertaining writers, scientists, comedians, and philosophers to read, perform, and narrate pieces that they had all written for the print book, which was published on October 1, 2009. This audio version is magnificent! It's funny, uplifting, and is read by all of the book's contributors, including Derren Brown, Richard Dawkins, Mitch Benn, Ben Goldacre, Simon Le Bon, Charlie Brooker, and David Baddiel.

©2009 HarperCollins Publishers (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • Leeds, UK
  • 14-01-11

Hit and miss

First things first: I am an atheist, so what I thought of the book is not because I am a religious zealot of sorts.
Anyway. Some parts are pretty pointless but reliably funny, like Brooker's. Most are witty yet provocative; others are trying way too hard, like Dawkins with his Wodehouse-esque pathhos. A couple of folks take themselves so seriously it makes you suspect they're not for real: my favorite was that Green whipping herself into such a tree-hugging frenzy about an organic Xmas (seriously), I thought she might end up having an or... organic something or other.
So, it is a hit and miss thing. Well worth the money, I suppose, and it's for a good cause, but don't torture yourself when you hit the chapter with an old woman telling you to invite for Xmas those you can't stand (she hasn't met my aunt Sally, obviously) and to finish all alcohol in the house before going to bed so that your kids don't do it for you (she must've grown up in an interesting household), or a Bulgarian-born Kiwi enthusiastically missing the point of writing for an atheist book.
Just skip them and go to the good ones, there are a few of those.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Jolly good

Very enjoyable collection of short contributions written and read by various non-Christian folk. Got through the entire book Christmas eve whilst wrapping gifts and preparing the turkey. The book offers a warm atmosphere and is a perfect substitute to the traditional carols at the local church. The stories are humorous and sometimes informative, which leaves the listener with plenty of Christmas facts to share around the dinner table. The only downside would be the quality of some recordings but all in all, a worthy four star listen.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

No Yawn Needed!!!

I love Christmas. Great time for family and friends. I am also an atheist. This is a great listen unless you are a Christian like the Yawner! Some of the short essays are better than others but thats down to personal interpretation of course. However overall a delightful listen with some genuinely hilarious laugh out aloud moments -if you are an atheist and you 'get it' of course. My christmas has been made all the better for listening to this annually. Absolutly Recommended.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Scrooge said it all... Humbug!

This is great fun - and the ideal gift to give to any of your friends who, like me, figure christmas to be strictly for children but not to be taken seriously. Derren Brown's take on the spirit of christmas sums it up best of all. He agrees with Richard Dawkins when he says it just doesn't need to involve god or any other spooks. Which rather resonates with my feeling that god is just Santa Clause for grown-ups and about half as credible. A host of very funny authors, all reading their own work... highly recommended. You'll love it! Unless of course you're a believer.. in god (or Santa Clause)

Note: spelling god with a small g is entirely deliberate.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Overall hit and miss, very bad recording quality

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This book is okay, some of the essays didn't disappoint, some of them were quite boring, not very entertaining or even witty and some quite pointless.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I liked some essays and hated the others.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Richard Dawkins and Simon Le Bon ?

Oh, the recording was quite dreadful. I believe they must have asked each contributor to the book to record themselves narrating their book, which is fine and I understand not all of them had professional equipment at hand. But boy, it shows. Some of the recording quality was so poor and the echo so bad Ifelt the speaker was sitting in a huge bucket whilst recording. It spoiled quite a number of essays for me and one was so bad that I wanted to throw away mi iPod alltogether. Not professional at all and a rip-off if you're buying the audiobook for the convenience as you haven't read the book before and not for the reason to hear the essays narrated by their authors.

Any additional comments?

Please try and reach better quality next time someone makes another compilation audibook. This one was not good enough.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad, enjoyed.

I'm an Atheist and wanted something to listen to to get me in the mood for Christmas. I enjoyed this, there are some better chapters than others (I suppose this is to tailor to everyone's tastes and interests)

It goes through the points of view from different people like a Jew, Christian, someone that has the same birthday as Jesus, and general festive thoughts and rituals etc. Can be quite funny in parts, interesting in others, and not that noticeable in the rest but I generally would recommend listening to it, especially around Xmas time.

I'm quite new to audio books but if I would recommend 1 improvement though, it would be that some of the voice overs aren't that clear (especially if you are listening in hard to hear areas like on trains). Some sound professionally recorded and others sound like it's them recording themselves talking in their bathroom on a Dictaphone. (Don't let this put you off too much though)

Enjoy :-)

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An introduction to Atheism

I read this at Christmas, which is obviously the best time to read it. I'd recently realised I was an atheist and was thinking about what that meant for Christmas and whether I was still entitled to put up a tree and have an advent calendar. I came across this by accident whilst buying the God Delusion. I read it before the God Delusion and it was a very good introduction to atheism and it was nice to have lots of people's points of view about how they celebrate Christmas and what it means to them. Some reviews have said some of the stories are worth skipping but I didn't skip any and didn't find any of them boring or without some value or insight into how they choose to live. This book won't change your life but its like having a good chat to lots of people about what they think Christmas means to them which helps you to decide what Christmas means to you. It certainly helped me get in to the festive spirit.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Extra fun when read by the authors.

This was a lot of fun. I had the hardback but had never got that far in (always too much to do at Christmas!). Each section is enthusiastically read by the author and there are one or two readings with a bit extra (try the intro to the David Baddiel chapter!). The individual chapters range from the scientific to anecdotal to (slight) rant. But all very entertaining and particularly good because you can listen in bitesize chunks - perfect for a shorter commute.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • sian
  • Cleveland, United Kingdom
  • 24-12-12

Festive fun

A collection of essay on nearly anything not all about religion etc. Good listen and well read

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • sj
  • santosha
  • 23-12-12

Funny

Some good stories and interesting facts all put across in the varying styles and characters of the writers. Sound could be a bit better though; quite echo-ie. all for a good cause though as the money goes to charity

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 30-11-10

Can’t duplicate Brit humor

Great rants from our friends across the pond. As my title implies, the Brits have a patent on very good, dry humor...and is worth the time to bask in it's glory. Recommend reading!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • christopher
  • 08-10-10

Great Listen.

This is a collection of stories, each story narrated by the person that wrote it. Some stories are better than others. Great all the way around. and so worth the 6 bucks. Keep em coming.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott Higgins
  • 13-08-10

I loved it

A series of short stories ranging from good to excellent, but worth it alone just for Richard Dawkins' contribution. His works are always top notch and this time he is also very funny. Hilarious in fact.
An instant favourite.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ian C Robertson
  • 23-02-16

Fun(d) Raiser

This Guide was obviously an adjunct to a fund raising venture to assist the Terry Higgins Trust, a UK HIV charity. It is a collection of 42 (in honour of the late Douglas Adams) short essays read by the respective authors. This makes for an eclectic mix of style, quality and interest. Some were very entertaining listens; funny or thought provoking. I enjoyed Simon Singh's ode to star watching and Simon Le Bon's simple message of festive (secular) cheer, to name but two. Some are a bit dull and some downright annoying. Some are from the famous (Dawkins etal) and some are a bit unknown (at least to Australian audiences). But overall, it's a bit of fun and was for a worthy cause.
PS: I suggest that you listen at Christmas. It makes it more pertinent.
PSS: the last two essayists are repeated, so don't sit through the same thing twice by accident, like I did!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • steve
  • 06-07-11

Surprisingly good

I listened to several audio books from Audible pertaining to atheism and this was the best by far. Educational and funny!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • 16-03-10

Brilliant

Entertaining and thought provoking. I Thoroughly enjoyed it. A few readers were a little dry and repetitive, otherwise no complaints.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David Chadwick
  • 27-11-09

Merry X-mas

I Thought this was amusing to hear stories from the lips of the people they belong to. How Christmas effected them, changed them, and the emotion and pain that came with some on the stories were enlightening.
Those stories of the people I knew may have been more enticing then those belonging to those that I didn't know, but didn't make the stories themselves much less enjoyable.
affordable enough to get even if you don't like it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Godless
  • 22-01-18

Delightful And Varied Perspectives

As an atheist, it is refreshing to read/hear that you're not alone during the 3-month Christmas season: Oct-Nov-Dec. The whole bus thing.... wish it had been where I am. As it is, I'm an atheist island in a sea of Xiams. So it gets rather lonely. It's nice then to hear kindred spirits and to know that I am not alone.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tara
  • 08-10-15

Good Humor, Bad Audio

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It is worth a listen for the price, especially since there are so many good writers contributing to the book as a whole. Just don't set your expectations too high.

Would you recommend The Atheist's Guide to Christmas to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend the physical book over the audio book. The content is often very funny and well-written, though at some points it gets a little slow.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrators generally do a good job, and it is nice to hear the works being read by the authors. However, the wild swings in audio quality are enough to make you sea sick. One reader will sound clear and professionally recorded, while the next will sound like he is reading from the back of the church.

Do you think The Atheist's Guide to Christmas needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Not necessarily this exact book, though it is always fun to have material on the topic in general.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • JD
  • 21-10-11

Mixed bag

Most of the essays were well done with a couple of exceptions. My only real complaint has nothing to do with the content, but rather the audio quality...it was average at best on some of the essays, but on a lot of them it was horrible. It was only 5 hours so I pushed through it. Had it been a typical novel-length book, I might not have made it.