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
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
This 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
But 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
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
I 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.