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Suggested reads

Most of the books in our review series are available online.

The Reluctant Gay Activist, by Terry Sanderson

Terry Sanderson's memoir shows gay and secularist activism go hand in hand.

Review by Helen Nicholls | Buy the book

My Godforsaken Life: Memoir of a Maverick, by Barbara Smoker

Former NSS president Barbara Smoker's book reminds us of the value of ordinary people's principled activism and provides a link to secularists of the past.

Review by Helen Nicholls | Buy the book

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan's book and the film it has inspired prompt the questions of what the state should do when a young person's religion conflicts with their welfare, and how this affects religious freedom.

Review by Emma Park | Read the book | Watch the film

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

First published in 1985, at the height of the Reagan era and six years after the Iranian Revolution, it has remained controversial and popular in equal measure. Vividly imagined and skilfully told, it has survived its original context and continues to provide a compelling narrative for our times. Like Philip Pullman's later Dark Materials trilogy, it is a fictional critique of Judaeo-Christian supremacy.

Review by Emma Park | Read the book | Watch series one

'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi

This award-winning graphic novel tells the author's story of growing up in Iran following the 1979 Islamic revolution, and her later experiences living in Europe.

Review by Megan Manson | Buy the Book

'The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism' by Julia Ebner

Ebner explores the symbiotic relationship between Islamist and (other) far right extremism, how Islamist and anti-Muslim narratives feed each other, and how we can challenge both.

Review by Dale Claridge | Buy the Book

'The Jesus Candidate: Political religion in a secular age' by Paul Lusk

Lusk argues that attempts to re-establish Christian religious privilege and roll back equalities, undermine true religious freedom.

Review by Megan Manson & Alastair Lichten | Buy the book

'I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban' by Malala Yousafzai

'Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening' by Maajid Nawaz

Autobiographies by two Muslim secularists whose lives have been directly intertwined with Islamist extremism.

Review by Megan Manson| Buy the books: I Am Malala | Radical

'The Battle for British Islam' by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon

There are three million Muslims in the UK. The evidence shows they are becoming more religiously conservative, thousands are thought to have joined Islamic State; vast majorities would criminalise blasphemy and homosexuality. What hope is there?

Review by Benjamin Jones | Buy the book

'Christian Nation' by Frederic C. Rich

Frederic C. Rich's counterfactual dystopian novel explores the themes of identity, resilience and redemption in an America changing into a new theocracy. A vibrant and thrilling defence of secular democracy.

Review by Alastair Lichten | Buy the book


The hard-hitting film depicts the Boston Globe's investigation into the cover-up of child sex abuse by the Catholic Church. It led to exposure of abuse on a massive scale being covered up by the Church, justice officials and the whole of Boston's very Catholic establishment.

Review by Keith Porteous Wood | Buy the DVD

'Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis' by Richard Scorer

In England, Catholic leaders have fostered the impression that the English church has been relatively scandal-free, and that such problems as did exist were eliminated by the Nolan reforms. Richard Scorer, head of the abuse unit at Slater & Gordon lawyers, interrogates that claim in his hard hitting book.

About the book by Richard Scorer | Buy the book

'The Public Woman' by Joan Smith

Joan Smith catalogues the various forms and dimensions of control, coercion and misogynist abuse of women in the UK and beyond. Her book seeks a reconfiguration of the public space; it calls for a space in which women are protected and free of coercive and controlling forces.

Review by Elizabeth O'Casey | Buy the book

'Interculturalism: The new era of cohesion and diversity' by Ted Cantle

Multiculturalism has failed. In an era of globalization and super-diversity, in which our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, the inability of multicultural policies to adapt to this new era has left people feeling disconnected and powerless. With both personal and collective identities threatened by transnational corporate powers and supra-national organizations, the time has come for radical policy changes.

Review by Steve Sparrow | Buy the book

'Dare To Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh' by Bryan Niblett

Charles Bradlaugh, the man who founded the National Secular Society in 1866, had a short but dramatic life, which is vividly portrayed in this definitive biography.

Review by Terry Sanderson | Buy the book