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Sam Harris’ Reading List Will Wake You Up and Shake You Up

Sam Harris is an American author, neuroscientist, and philosopher known for his highly intellectual, thoughtful, and contrarian opinions on controversial topics such as religion, politics, and culture. This article provides an insight into Sam Harris’ reading list and highlights some of the books he has recommended over the years, including his own works on the moral landscape, spirituality, and human value system.
by Chris Allmer | Jun 9 2023
Sam Harris

Throughout his career, Sam Harris has made it clear that he doesn’t shy away from having difficult conversations. Even in the face of backlash and accusations of Islamophobia, he continues to champion his criticism of organized religion and share his controversial opinions on different platforms. Considering his highly intellectual, thoughtful, and contrarian opinions, Sam Harris’ reading list is one of those book collections that every scholar should be familiar with.

Sam Harris is an American author, neuroscientist, and philosopher. He hosts a popular podcast, “Making Sense with Harris,” where he discusses several topics, including science, philosophy, religion and spirituality, politics, current affairs, and culture.

As an author, he has written many books on these controversial themes. This article provides an insight into Sam Harris’ reading list and highlights some of the books he has recommended over the years.

A Guide to Spirituality & the Moral Landscape: Harris’ Value System

Sam Harris has written extensively on the moral landscape, spirituality, and human culture and value system. He is a strong proponent of rational inquiry, who believes that human decisions and beliefs should be based on evidence-backed facts. Sam Harris also favors introspective practices like meditation and contemplation over organized religion.

His views and fearless contrarian approach toward religious discussions have resulted in harsh criticism and accusations of Islamophobia and the promotion of dangerous stereotypes. However, Sam Harris remains resolute in his conviction and continues to champion his cause through his books and public speeches.

Some of the best Sam Harris books are:

  • The Moral Landscape
  • Lying
  • Letter to a Christian Nation
  • The End of Faith
  • Waking Up
  • Free Will
  • Islam and the Future of Tolerance

These books have gained a readership in various countries of the world. The End of Faith, which was published in 2004, became a bestseller and won him the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. His other books have also sold millions of copies worldwide and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

The Sam Harris Book List: 8 Top Favorites

Sam Harris’ favorite books cover different themes, but focus mostly on religion, philosophy, morality, and artificial intelligence. Here is a selection of 8 titles from Sam Harris’ recommended reading that you shouldn’t miss.

1. The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

In this book, The Beginning of Infinity, Deutsch explores the relationship between our universe and the search for knowledge. The author argues that the progress seen in our universe results from human curiosity and the quest for knowledge. He further explains that this knowledge is capable of infinite growth, which will consequently reflect on the world.

2. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd Gilbert

This book explores the human mind’s perception of the source of happiness. Daniel Todd argues that our brain is flawed at predicting the things that could bring us happiness, and that these false assumptions often guide our decisions.

3. Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom uses this book to express his pessimism about the ongoing A.I. revolution. He argues that by the time artificial intelligence reaches its zenith of Superintelligence, it could pose an existential threat to human existence and civilization.

4. Behave by Robert M. Sapolsky

In “Behave,” Robert Sapolsky aims to teach us about human behavior from a neurological perspective. He explores the effects of hormones, genetics, and social factors and how they influence humans to fight, argue, agree, cheat, rape, and exhibit other behaviors that show humans both at their best and their worst.

5. Our Final Invention by James Barrat

As artificial intelligence continues to advance, James Barrat explores some of its benefits and dangers. He argues that by the time A.I. reaches the human-level or super-human level of intelligence, it will revolt, become uncontrollable and become a threat to humanity. This book on future technology is one of the most highly recommended books on Sam Harris’ reading list.

6. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchins

Christopher Hitchins’ God is Not Great tops Sam Harris’ reading list regarding religion. This book traces the origin of religion from the most primitive age of human existence until today. The author argues that rational thinking, morality, and ethics are better practices than organized religion, which he believes has done more harm to humanity than good.

7. The Path of Purification by Buddhaghosa

Sam Harris’ reading list would not be complete without a book on meditation. With deep-rooted knowledge of Buddhist practices, Buddhaghosa teaches the right way to find peace, purification, and serenity in meditation. Its three chapters expand on the themes of discipline and virtue, concentration, and wisdom.

8. The Anatomy of Disgust by William Ian Miller

In this book, Miller explains how the feeling of disgust shapes human society. He claims that disgust plays a critical role in human survival, and also traces the evolutionary origin of this intense emotion and how it influences our values and acceptable practices.

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