What links these books is their atheistic viewpoint – a sceptical approach to our own beliefs and an awareness of the shortcomings of human psychology and thinking – but coming from three very different perspectives. A very American “ground clearing” (the ground in question being covered in eggshells) debate style coming from a philosopher of mind, a british polemic from a friend of his who once wrote a very good book, and a compendium of stories and tricks written by a minor, though handsome, television personality who was an evangelical christian as a student.

I was not going to read the Dawkins book but a) it was mentioned in the other two books here, and b) there was a cheap “trade paperback/airport only” edition and a relaxing non-fiction read for my holiday between sections of the new Pynchon was in order.

The Dennett and Derren books help throw into relief just why I find Dawkins (now) so unengaging and unrewarding a writer. Where the other two worm their way into your attention through a warmth and humour that complements their positive crusade, Dawkins invidious, tiring and unapologetic rhetorical stance does nothing to enhance or advance the bald correctness of what he is saying. But I’ll devote separate posts to each book, so that can wait.

(ps I’m not loving the Pynchon so much, since you asked. More Vineland than M&D/GR if you ask. Is OK.)