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These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Open your mind’s horizon by reading clashing ideas

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

This article is only for those who are truly open-minded.

Being open-minded to different thought processes shows maturity and wisdom. It’s okay to have faith in your values while giving honest thought to the ideas of those who stand on the opposite side.

Today’s books have some bold opinions. You might even be uncomfortable with some of them. But, one thing is for sure, these books will help you see the world differently.

Let’s go through a brief overview of each of them.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Science vs religion, the ultimate battle.

Many like me, have made peace between our religious approach and scientific beliefs.

But the atheists who believe in the superiority of science and believe religion to be redundant have their arguments.

This is one of the books that bring those arguments to light.

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

Dawkins touches on the fact that there are many Gods throughout human history. And many of us don’t believe in them. In a sense, we are ‘atheists’ about those Gods.

He raises many issues with belief in religion. Since religion is passed down from parents to children (in most cases anyway), Dawkins thinks children should be allowed to grow up, study, and make their own conclusions.

“Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment?”

He also provides rebuttals against the popular arguments against atheism like the need for a moral framework.

Even if you don’t agree with Dawkins’s approach, this book will wake up the intellectual in you.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Are we autonomous beings or puppets?

Sam Harris details his ideas about free will in this book.

Harris thinks free will doesn’t exist. His argument?

He informs us that we don’t understand the process by which our brain determines an action. We only become aware of the action once we do it.

“How can we be “free” as conscious agents if everything that we consciously intend is caused by events in our brain that we do not intend and of which we are entirely unaware?”

The author says that us being ‘willing’ to commit an action and doing that particular action, let’s say lighting up a pipe, how is it related to freedom?

He asks tough questions. What is behind the ‘willing’? Another ‘willing’?

“Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic — in fact, it has increased my feelings of freedom.”

While most of us don’t like the feeling that comes once we question the existence of ‘free will’, the author is pretty okay with it.

He says that his loss of belief in free will has made him more moral. He is kind to others in the face of their bad behavior. He is humble concerning his own achievements.

Sam Harris presents a fascinating view that I might have a hard time digesting, but nonetheless, it was fascinating to learn about.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

History repeats itself.

The authors wrote the book ‘The Fourth Turning’ in 1997. The authors are also behind the now widely used term ‘millennials.’

This book is the follow-up of their 1997 book.

“The saeculum contributes to long-term progress only to the extent that it keeps society alive and adaptive.”

Using Anglo-American history, the authors have divided history into cycles of 80 to 100 years. These cycles are called saeculum. In each saeculum, there are four turnings of around two decades each.

The 4 turnings come in the following order:

  1. High: A new order rises, and institutions are strong

  2. Awakening: The order is criticized and attacked

  3. Unraveling: Strong individualism, weak institutions

  4. Crisis: Time of extreme conflict

“…by the time the challenge is resolved, America will acquire a new collective identity with a new understanding of income, class, race, nation, and empire.”

The authors say that the current saeculum started with World War 2.

According to the authors’ calculations, currently, we are in the fourth turning of this saeculum. They call it the ‘Millennial Crisis’.

The writers predict the end of the current saeculum around the early 2030s. They say that the new saeculum will bring a new high and America will continue to dominate the globe.

This book provides an interesting view of the history and current events.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Who is to be blamed for the intolerance that exists today?

The author starts with the 3 untruths that have become prevalent in society.

  1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.

  2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.

  3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

“Argue as if you’re right, but listen as if you’re wrong (and be willing to change your mind).”

I agree with the authors.

For the untruth about fragility, we know that there are countless pathogens, even deadly ones all around us. And when we get exposed to them, our immune system grows.

Unlike what one might assume, kids who grow up in sterile environments will get more sick. Why? Because their immune system never faced the pathogens hence never got the opportunity to strengthen.

“If we want to create welcoming, inclusive communities, we should be doing everything we can to turn down the tribalism and turn up the sense of common humanity.”

The prevalence of the second untruth allows people to go against established scientific facts. They make arguments like ‘lived truth’ in order to make their point.

For the third untruth, the authors say that it is easy to believe that a certain group of people is the reason for all the evil. The reality is that the good and bad exist inside every single human.

The whole book is an attempt to dismantle these three untruths and how their prevalence in society is negatively affecting progress.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

An unconventional view of sex.

If I had to name the most controversial book from this list, it’d be this one. It made me uncomfortable although I consider myself pretty open-minded.

The author makes the case that in primitive hunter-gatherer communities, sex was shared in groups. Paternity didn’t really matter. The group dynamics allowed humans to bond with each other and care for their children collectively.

They liken this sexual structure to those of the bonobos chimpanzees.

“Homo sapiens evolved to be shamelessly, undeniably, inescapably sexual.”

I mean, sure, I understand sexual desire is an important part of human life. But the view that authors put forward reminds me of swinger parties and sex orgies (not that I have been to any of them).

The authors don’t define the morality of monogamy or other ways of sexual bonding.

They want the reader to view the behavior of ancient humans in a new light.

Many have criticized the book for lack of historical accuracy and scientific method. Steven Pinker called the book ‘pseudoscience’.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

A positive view of the West.

Douglas Murray is a British author and political commentator. He is said to have neoconservative views.

If you are critical of the West and its policies, this book will force you to see a new picture.

I am not asking you to agree. I am just saying that this guy provides an intellectual argument that is worth listening to, even if you disagree.

“If you do not respect my past, then why should I respect yours? If you do not respect my culture, then why should I respect yours?… And if you do not like what my society has produced, then why should I agree to your having a place in it?”

Murray makes the argument that Western values are under attack from within, at the hands of academics and commentators. As a result, the history of Western civilization is viewed in a negative light.

He discusses the contributions of the West to the world like democracy and human rights.

“If it is agreed that everybody did bad things in the past, then it is possible to move on and even to move beyond it.”

The author claims that no one’s ancestors were saints. And we should all accept that and move on. Even though I might not agree with all the author’s points, I agree with this one. We cannot fault someone for what his or her ancestors did.

“Without gratitude, the prevailing attitudes of life are blame and resentment.”

This book will make you think regardless of your personal convictions.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Is the Democratic party helping the African-American community?

I don’t know if it’s my search history or something else, but when I was active on YouTube, I used to get Candace Owens shorts in my recommendations.

Despite not being American, I got to know some of her views.

This book details all her political opinions in detail. She uses research and data to back up her views.

“Of the 2,925 blacks who were killed in 2018, 2,600 of their murderers were other blacks; only 234 were white.”

She challenges the mainstream view of racism. Black people are 11 times more likely to be killed by another black person. Blows your mind, doesn’t it?

The author encourages the African-American community to put their own house in order instead of engaging in identity politics.

“Freedom necessitates that we learn how to provide for ourselves, contributing value in whatever form, to generate personal income.”

She wants all Americans to take responsibility and reject the victim narrative.

This is an enlightening book on American conservative discourse.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

There is something wrong with political correctness.

Michael Knowles comes at the idea of political correctness with fervor.

Through his book, he makes us reflect on the use of words in political ideology. If we aren’t sure of what they even mean, how can we have a discussion where we understand each other?

“Irony thrives in liberal and decadent societies because it permits the evasion of responsibility.”

Knowles accuses the political correctness discourse of not using the words with their true meaning. He says that through ambiguity, the political correctness campaign weasels itself out of accountability.

The author says that in order to impose leftist ideologies, the Western culture has been made out to be oppressive and unjust.

“There has never been any such thing as absolute ‘free speech’, and conservatives’ delusions to the contrary have afforded radicals the opportunity to dismantle the traditional moral order that conservatives purport to uphold.”

Speaking the truth is dangerous and can even get you physically attacked, says Knowles. So there is no absolute free speech ever.

The author claims reality and political correctness to be at odds with each other.

This book is well-researched and worth a read regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

How doubt allowed corporations to fill their pockets?

The public was late in receiving the information that tobacco is injurious or that ozone is being depleted.


Because the corporations poured their money into making the waters muddy. A handful of conservative scientists created doubt against peer-reviewed scientific facts.

“Doubt is essential to scientific progress, but contrived doubt is a political strategy.”

The authors share all this and more in the book.

The DDT present in pesticides was found to be poisonous. How was it tackled?

The industry vilified the scientist Rachel Carson for blowing the whistle on the accumulation of DDT in animal fatty tissues including humans. She was the one who brought to light the harmful effects of DDT.

I mean, it is almost like deja vu. I am sure you can also think of some prevalent issues where the harmfulness of a product outweighs the positives but due to corporate interests, people are constantly being misguided.

Such alliances of political interest, corporate greed, and pseudoscience are very dangerous for society.

“Industries that pollute and profit have a vested interest in muddying the scientific waters.”

This book will make you open your eyes in the face of political and corporate games.

These Controversial Books Might Stir You Up — And They Should

Wakey wakey, we are being fooled.

The author puts forth a rather outrageous claim in this book. Honestly, I find it hard to grapple with.

Regardless, it made me reflect.

“Shit jobs tend to be blue collar and pay by the hour, whereas bullshit jobs tend to be white collar and salaried.”

Graeber says that most of the jobs that exist in society are useless and a waste of potential. He calls them ‘bullshit jobs’.

He divides the ‘bullshit jobs’ into the following categories:

  1. Flunkies: They make people feel important e.g. greeters

  2. Goons: They harm and deceive others e.g. lobbyists and telemarketers

  3. Duct tapers: They fix problems temporarily e.g. code fixers

  4. Box tickers: They are those who give the appearance of something being done when it is not

  5. Taskmasters: They create extra work where not needed e.g. middle management

“Being forced to pretend to work just for the sake of working is an indignity, since the demand is perceived — rightly — as the pure exercise of power for its own sake.”

The author is relentless in his criticism and he thinks that human effort should be spent on meaningful pursuits like writing, farming, fishing, etc.

I’d say this book puts forth an unconventional but very interesting theory.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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