Getting Clarity In A Post-Going Clear World: More on Scientology

You watched HBO’s documentary Going Clear and it blew your mind. Scientology is sneaky and corrupt and David Miscavige is a tiny, tiny man. But wait, there’s more. Books about Scientology have been blowing people’s minds for years with their crazy, crazy information.

1. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

going clear

This is the book that the documentary was based on, and author Lawrence Wright worked with filmmaker Alex Gibney. Lawrence Wright is legit, and seeks to understand how the church can keep intelligent people within its grasps. He seeks to explain the effects of belief, he says in his introduction. Full disclosure, I tried to read this before the doc aired so I could give you a nice compare and contrast with other scientology books out there, but once it embarked upon L. Ron Hubbard’s history again, I just.. couldn’t.. do it… Because it was discussed so throughly in:
2. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secret Religion by Janet Reitman

inside scientologyThis book is horrifying. I read it in bed when I wasn’t feeling well, and would switch from laying on one side to laying on my one side to laying on my other side, equally horrified on both sides, like a horror pancake. It covers everything from Hubbard’s wacky time at sea, to Miscavige’s coup of church leadership, to Lisa Mcpherson’s death under church supervision. At the time I read this, I knew Scientology was odd, but I just had no idea how far things had gone.


3. Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

beyond belief large w borderBut maybe this memoir was the scariest of all, as it chronicled the experiences of Jenna Miscavige Hill, a child raised in the church (and relative of David Miscavige). I’ve also reviewed this previously on the blog, with a quoted example of the insanity she went through. Hill went through everything from indoctrination to manual labor to separation from her family. Now, she’s started an organization for kids trying to leave the Scientology.


4. Battlefield Earth: A Sage of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard

This cover though!!

This cover though!!

In my Intro to Science Fiction class, we learned about L. Ron Hubbard for his writing in old school magazines like Astounding Science Fiction. Before he created a religion, he created Battlefield Earth.

5. Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

them adventuresI mentioned this last week, but I guess it seems more timely now. Ronson doesn’t visit with Scientologists, but he does embed himself with and get to know all sorts of other people we consider to be on the peripheral of life, with radical, offensive, and sometimes dangerous beliefs. If you’re interested in Scientology, you will probably find this to your liking as well.


Jon Ronson, Monica Lewinsky, And The Fierce Twitter Avalanche of Snowflakes

Jon Ronson comes to the realization that online, we are a vicious lot: “I suppose when shamings are delivered like remotely administered drone strikes nobody needs to think about how ferocious our collective power might be. The snowflake never needs to feel responsible for the avalanche.”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Vaccinating: Eula Biss’ On Immunity

In Eula Biss’ short On Immunity: An Inoculation, she lays bare the fears of being a mother today. As the mother of a young son herself, Biss takes a step back from the vaccine debate and looks at its framing, its history, and the concept of the self as impermeable by society.

William Gibson’s The Peripheral: The Past Is The Playground For The Future’s Rich

William Gibson is a master of near-future science fiction, he’s a speculative fiction genius who has been called a noir prophet, and The Peripheral is another example of why he gets all these accolades.

An Untamed State: Roxane Gay Stares The Violence Down

But another way of smashing the stereotype is leaning full in, like a twisty Sheryl Sandberg. This seems to be Roxane Gay’s approach, as her debut novel An Untamed State leans full in to the experience of a woman who is raped and tortured and used by men as a thing in her novel.

Update: Annihilation Moves To The Next Round In The Tournament Of Books

I was going to add this as a comment to my review of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, but thought I’d post a quick update instead.

Annihilation beat critic fave Dept. of Speculation in the Tournament of Books yesterday, which has me chanting “Go, Annihilation, GO!” even as I know so many of my favorite other books are still in the mix. I think it is going to be hard for anything to beat Station Eleven.

I suspected Annihilation would fare well with Victor LaValle, as the only novel of his I’ve read, The Devil In Silver (his most recent), was full of the type of wild, fresh thinking that Annihilation fully embraces. But his reasoning behind his decision seemed justified, not just like an alliance with all things bizarre, and his discussion of Dept. of Speculation made me want to check it out soon.

So here’s to celebrating the new school of weird, and looking forward to the epic battles to come!

Where Are Our Jetpacks? In Daniel Suarez’s Influx, The Bureau of Technology Control Steals The Future

In Daniel Suarez’s thriller Influx, the government is gobbling up all that advanced technology, hoarding it away from the public and other countries.

Photosensitivity Makes Anna Lyndsey a Girl in the Dark

In 2004, Anna Lyndsey’s face began to burn as she sat in front of her computer. Like the worst sunburn, like a hot torch. This was the beginning of sensitivity to light so severe that Lyndsey, found herself seeking comfort in a blackened room, dressed in thick garments from head to toe.

Lily King Writes Euphoria and Dread on the Kiona River

But so many of my favorite books are packaged as love stories, and are then actually full of mystery and intrigue, love more lost than found: Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, Kate Walbert’s The Gardens of Kyoto. Euphoria falls into this second group, as this is less a book of romantic longing than one of human need and human obsession, in all their brilliance and ugliness.

Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘Annihilation’ Will Take You On A Ride To Crazy Town

The Southern Reach of the trilogy’s title studies Area X, a natural landscape possessed, lost from humanity to unknown. Annihilation opens as the twelfth expedition begins their journey into this now foreign and predatory landscape.


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