Many of us are isolated from other freethinkers and have no one to discuss and share our questions. For me, books provided a very valuable resource when I started to question my religion. It was very comforting to know that great thinkers throughout history have the same questions.
What books made an impact on you?
Not as an escape from religion but when I commenced really wanting to find answers to things that I didn't no the questions to. Two books I read back to back and suddenly made sense of things . In Search of Schroedinger's Cat by John Gribben and The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
Crisis of Conscience has had a great influence of many Jehovah's Witnesses, including me.
I just finished Victor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning and it is said to have had a huge influence on people for several decades now. It is a wonderfully positive book drawn from the horrors of living in Nazi concentration camps.
Although an avid reader, I didn’t really look to books when I was moving away from whatever belief I had, it was more a personal thing and about things happening in my life.
On an aside, when I saw your post on the home page what caught my eye was “Grand Island, NE” next to your pic, I also grew up in GI.
I've read many of 'the standards'... but the two that come instantly to mind are 'the ancestors tale' by Dawkins and 'the hero: a study in tradition, myth, and drama' by Lord Raglan. By the time read them I already had 20-ish years as an atheist and both gave me several instances of "Oh shit!! I never thought of that".
It was 30+ years ago that I was doing my questioning of faith, having been a dutiful Pentecostal in my youth. Many great freethinkers books I have enjoyed since waking up. But back then, ones that made a difference tended just to highlight some absurd assumptions of Christianity, rather than to boldly announce that they were atheist books. These included writings of Mark Twain, whom I admired as a national treasure and undeniable sharp whit. His "Letters From the Earth" was illuminating. Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," too, snuck in some challenges, when it talked about Celie's sister going off to Africa as a Christian missionary to "spread light" to "ignorant savages," only to write home after a few years to explain that she had lost her faith, the natives having opened her eyes to the ignorance of this "white man's religion."
Then there was Arthur C. Clark's Space Odyssey series, (2001, 2010, 2060, and 3001) on the surface simply sci-fi fantasy, but his books' appendices were as fascinating as the stories were and were packed full of scientific knowledge that helped me better appreciate the vastness and wonder of science and the relatively small-mindedness and inadequate, primitive paradigm of Earth-centric monotheists.
I would add Carl Satan's books, too, but honestly I didn't read any (started to read Brocca's Brain" but never finished it) but his Cosmos tv series impacted me for sure. Salute to Carl!
When I began questioning my religion, I searched for books to read that might provide some kind of connection with other freethinkers, past and present. I remember reading Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason."
I was really impressed by his knowledge of the bible and the examples of biblical inconsistencies. As I read, I had my Dickson King James bible handy and read each scripture mentioned.