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:
- Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths (even though it turns out the girl was already a big fan of I, Claudius).
- Richard Dawkins’ illustrated science book, The Magic of Reality.
- Any satirical works by Shakespeare and Chaucer. Find some in our collection of Free eBooks.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations (to explain what it could be like for young women to grow up in this world.)
- A Tale of Two Cities in particular, and any Dickens in general, since Dickens teaches children to love reading.
- Something by P.G. Wodehouse. How about Sunset at Blandings?
- And, when it comes to philosophy, a little Hume. David Hume, that is.
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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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.
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” http://socraticmama.com/
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?
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.
@asf so true. Cannot judge the whole 1.5B based on one persons experience.
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”.
It is not true that there are1.5 billion Muslims. Born in So called Islamic countries but majority not believing and not practicing!
@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
I’d have told her to try The Moomins.
Could he really only recommend one book by a woman – in a list for an 8-year old girl?
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.
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.
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.
She was asking him to share his mind and heart. He did, as best he could. All the rest here is pedantry.
“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.