My Top Ten Books of All Time

top10

Everyone enjoys top ten lists, right? So, here it is. My very own list of the Top Ten books that have most influenced me and contributed towards shaping my outlook. I didn’t want it all to look too narcissistic so have decided to limit my comments on each book to a single sentence explaining why I was so taken by the book.

Please do add your own all time favourite book recommendations along with the reasons why in the comments section below!

1. The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

the beginning of infinity
A compellingly argued paean to the scientific method and the Enlightenment as our best means of overcoming the inevitable obstacles that humankind faces and will inevitably continue to face in the future.
2. Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth R. Miller

finding_darwins_god
Played a key role in convincing me of the truth of evolution and highlighting the ignorance and indeed sheer stupidity of those who are in denial about Darwin’s tremendous achievement.

 

3. The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

the_ascent_of_man
Accompanying the landmark 1973 BBC television series, this book is an inspiring celebration of the numerous peaks that humankind has crossed on its way to modern civilisation.

 

4. Muhammad at Mecca/Muhammad at Medina by W. Montgomery Watt

muhammad_at_mecca
Many Muslim-authored biographies of the Prophet Muhammad suffer from being too hagiographical, while Watt’s two- volume book appears to be fair and balanced in comparison.

 

5. The Qur’an Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

The_Quran
Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation and particularly his extensive and erudite commentary is a continual pleasure to read and learn from. (Note: This refers to the original Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation and commentary, not the “Revised” translation and commentary by the Saudi-financed shit-heads that butchered his work as it offended their Salafi ideology).

 

6. Who Needs An Islamic State? by Abdulwahab el-Affendi

who_needs_an_islamic_state
Convinced me that those movements calling for the establishment of an “Islamic State” would almost certainly set up repressive and authoritarian regimes if they succeeded in gaining power.

7. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

catch_22
Extremely black comedy about war that helps build up a healthy scepticism towards those wielding power.

 

8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
the_road
A plausible and deeply haunting look at the apocalyptic future awaiting humankind if we do not come to our senses and refrain from using weapons of mass destruction.

9. The End of Science by John Horgan

the_end_of_science
A sceptical look at some of the latest ideas in the world of science accompanied by a series of searching and amusing interviews with some of its most famous current practitioners.

 

10. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

cosmos
A passionate plea for humankind to turn away from narrow sectarian differences, to reject superstition and instead to fulfil our innate curiosity to learn more about the universe and our place within it.

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7 Responses to My Top Ten Books of All Time

  1. LibertyPhile says:

    This is a list of books I’m extra glad I’ve read (not just glad) and my memories of them are that stronger.

    (1) “The Bible as History”, Werner Keller. This book was given to me as a prize at school (not for Scripture). I remember being amazed to discover that some of the things in the Bible are based on events that really happened!

    (2) “The Breaking Point”, Robert Doughty. A fast moving account of the six weeks military campaign that led to the fall France in May-June 1940. How things go pear shaped when your enemy doesn’t do what you expect him to do.

    (3) “Albert Speer – His Battle with Truth”, Gitta Sereny. How decent educated men can be the instruments of evil.

    (4) “Heaven on Earth – A Journey Through Sharia Law”, Sadakat Kadri. A good example of the contradictions of modern Muslim thought. The author thinks “sharia courts [the Deobandi inspired MAT] … are good for the community as a whole”. He then goes on to say “They [the Deobandis] had no expectation that fresh ideas might resolve contemporary problems. Any new answers that might emerge would flow only from redoubled contemplation of what was already known. …. Everything I saw of Pakistan’s madrasas left me convinced …. that they were manifestations of a malaise rather than a signpost towards solutions.”

    (5) “Among the Dead Cities”, A C Grayling. Was the Allied bombing of civilians in WWII a necessity or a crime?

    (6) “Towards the Light – The Story of the Struggle for Liberty & Rights That Made the Modern West”, A C Grayling. Freedom from the tyranny of religion and the tyranny of man has been achieved at great cost. The battle isn’t over.

    (7) “God is not Great”, Christopher Hitchens. Needs no explanation.

    (8) “The Balfour Declaration – The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, Jonathan Schneer. A balanced account the like of which seems to be lacking from the education of many Muslims.

    (9) “The Religion”, Tim Willocks. A very well researched historical novel and reminder of the Islamic invasions of Europe. A Saxon youth is captured in an Ottoman raid on his home village and converted to Islam and raised to become a powerful janissary. On regaining his freedom he goes to Sicily and in partnership with a Jew becomes a successful arms merchant and opium dealer. These activities involve him in the Siege of Malta (1565) and with his knowledge of Islam and military expertise he plays a key part in the defeat of the Ottomans. [Willocks is a doctor, and his understanding of drugs and wounds shows in the credibility of the story].

    (10) “The Rise of the Stupid Network”, David Isenberg. Not a book but an article that got it right about the nature of the Internet.

  2. mohammad says:

    No mention of ‘Let Us Be Muslims’ then..

  3. Edis Bevan says:

    OK how do we detect which are the ‘revised’ versions of Abdullah Yusuf Ali’ work? For example if considering ordering from an online bookseller. It might also be helpful for example to have a key passage pointed out where there is some crucial difference. Then we who may be beginning exploration could check out that passage when handling a potential purchase.

    • I recently ordered a new copy of Yusuf Ali’s original translation from Amazon after my old copy started to fall to bits. I ordered it from the publisher Kitab Bhavan on Amazon and it was an excellent purchase. You can tell the difference between the original Yusuf Ali editions and the newer Saudi garbled editions because the newer Saudi editions will not contain many of the very interesting appendices that Yusuf Ali included eg at the end of Surah Yusuf (Surah 12). They will also feature a “(Rev.)” notification at the end of many of the commentary passages to denote that they have “revised” (bastardised) many of Yusuf Ali’s original commentary notes.

  4. Ash says:

    Interesting list by Inayat shows the mindset of a confused pseudo/intellectual wanna be Muslim, who has a clear inferiority complex as is exemplified by his list of books. As for Abdullah Yusuf Ali some of his commentary is based on pseudo/intellectual western thought,rather then Islamic teachings hence the reason for Inayat getting his knickers in a twist . So Kudos for the Saudis for revising the commentary in his translations.

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