Ailing Christopher Hitchens Creates a List of Essential Books for an 8‑Year-Old Girl to Read

In the last months of his life, a phys­i­cal­ly weak­ened Christo­pher Hitchens trav­eled to the Texas Freethought Con­ven­tion to accept the Richard Dawkins Award. While there, an eight-year-old girl, Mason Crumpack­er of Dal­las, asked Hitchens what books she should con­sid­er read­ing. Intrigued, Hitchens spent 15 min­utes chat­ting with the young­ster and sketch­ing out a read­ing list. And, accord­ing to the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle, it looks some­thing like this:

A detailed account of the con­ver­sa­tion by Mason Crumpack­er’s moth­er can be found here.

Mean­while, if you’re look­ing for anoth­er set of rec­om­men­da­tions, don’t miss this: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read.

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Comments (16)
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  • Luca says:

    Thank you for this. There are still so many occa­sions when I find myself won­der­ing what Hitch would have writ­ten in response to this or that event … Just popped through to read Mason’s thank you let­ter to Hitch. Mov­ing.

  • Chris Irwin Davis says:

    FYI — We know this girl. She attends the same sec­u­lar pri­vate school as our daugh­ter. Her moth­er, (also seen in the video) runs the blog “Socrat­ic Mama”

  • asf says:

    what is “this world”?? how about con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing her (Hir­si Ali’s) life rather than col­laps­ing the lives of mil­lions of women of Mus­lim faith into one?

  • Eric Hongisto says:

    Heavy list!

  • gnonannon says:

    Yes indeed. We must con­tex­tu­al­ize a cul­ture where are so hasty to shuf­fle back, and dis­tance our­selves from those who bring ver­bal tes­ta­ment, cor­po­re­al tes­ta­ment, insight into real­i­ty and guid­ance on how to make infer­ences from par­tic­u­lar circumstances.nnnnHer assess­ment of Islam is lucid, and coher­ent. Ayaan Hir­si Ali is a woman with open eyes, and is some­one well worth lis­ten­ing to.

  • Honorliving says:

    @asf so true. Can­not judge the whole 1.5B based on one per­sons expe­ri­ence.

  • dylan says:

    gnonan­non, thanks for that mean­ing­less word sal­ad.

    Hir­si Ali told West­ern­ers like your­self exact­ly what they want­ed to hear about the Mus­lim world and “the lives of Mus­lim women”.

  • Ardie says:

    It is not true that there are1.5 bil­lion Mus­lims. Born in So called Islam­ic coun­tries but major­i­ty not believ­ing and not prac­tic­ing!

  • Muhammad says:

    @honorliving you do realise that there’s no pos­si­bil­i­ty to exclude one’s self from those num­bers when it’s ille­gal to leave it? I know quite a few unwill­ing mem­bers includ­ed among this sta­tis­tic who have no pos­si­bil­i­ty of legal­ly leav­ing it under threat of an entire­ly divine­ly-inspired death

  • Garr says:

    Absolute­ly hilar­i­ous.

    I’d have told her to try The Moomins.

  • Andrea Varney says:

    Could he real­ly only rec­om­mend one book by a woman — in a list for an 8‑year old girl?

  • Patricia Beiting says:

    David Hume–who leaves you with an intractable prob­lem? Okay, but keep going. Try on Immanuel Kan­t’s Cri­tique of Prac­ti­cal Rea­son for a decent eth­i­cal stan­dard: “Act only in accor­dance with that max­im through which you can at the same time will that it become a uni­ver­sal law.” Then, read Alfred North White­head, a math­e­mati­cian turned philoso­pher, who was able to see the philo­soph­i­cal impli­ca­tions of quan­tum mechan­ics and rel­a­tiv­i­ty and to show how cor­rect­ing false premis­es could ren­der sev­er­al of the clas­sic philo­soph­i­cal prob­lems non-exis­tent and lead to a coher­ent world­view.

  • Jake says:

    So many peo­ple com­plain­ing about point­less things…So what if he only rec­om­mend­ed a read­ing list with one female author? Expect­ing him to just throw books that he does­n’t pre­fer only to sat­is­fy some ran­dom per­son­’s wish­es is unfair to say the least. To the peo­ple argu­ing over Mus­lims and the like need to real­ize that just because its one per­sons expe­ri­ence does not mean they aren’t allow to tell their sto­ry. If mul­ti­ple peo­ple have the same expe­ri­ence don’t get upset with them, be dis­ap­point­ed in those who would sul­ly your faith’s good name.

  • Ted Fontenot says:

    Sun­set at Bland­ings? That’s odd, isn’t it? It’s an unfin­ished work. I’d nev­er rec­om­mend that to a young read­er com­ing onto Wode­house for the first time. That’s a good way to turn them off him.

  • john kuti says:

    She was ask­ing him to share his mind and heart. He did, as best he could. All the rest here is pedantry.

  • Thor says:

    “This world” refers to THE WORLD.

    “…what it COULD be like for young women to grow up in this world”

    As in, this is one account of a young woman grow­ing up in the world, which COULD be the real­i­ty for all young women.

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