The most interesting title I pulled from the TLS Books of the year list was one of William Boyd's choices: Michel Onfray's Traité d'Athéologie (Grasset). This'll test my French to its limits! Seems both saddening and strange that atheism should need reaffirming in the 21st Century, but it certainly does. Onfray says the book was born out of "d'une indignation et d'une urgence":
trois siècles après le triomphe des « Lumières », et un siècle après la loi de séparation de l'Eglise et de l'Etat, le politique et le religieux soient encore si inextricablement mêlés dans nos sociétés prétendument laïques et démocratiques.
Shelley was also driven by a militant atheism that meant he was ostracised by the rest of the establishment he was from, during his lifetime. But it’s an atheism at the heart of some of his best poetry. This atheism meant that he clashed with all those who believed that the poor deserved to be poor, or were poor because of their own making. So Shelley was driven by a desire to both illuminate the world and change it.