Ten Unbelievable Books About Scientology – Updated Scientology Book List

10 Unbelievable Books About Scientology Book List On Novels And Nonfiction

It may sound weird but Scientology is one of my favorite topics to read about. You may have noticed a trend in my reading that has to do with cults and escape stories, and it’s true, I’m a sucker for reading about people who find themselves in incredible and disturbing circumstance and are able to make their way out of them. It also doesn’t hurt that Scientology is essentially bat-shit crazy, and therefore makes for endlessly engrossing reading. It’s hard to believe that a ‘religion’ that abuses its adherents to the degree to which Scientology does could continue to survive, but the brain washing perpetrated by the ‘church’ on its believers is so complete it’s hard to understand.

My very first post on this blog was a Scientology book list, and it has proven to be a very popular post. I thought I would dust it off with extended versions of the 3 original reviews plus new reviews of 3 more books that were in the original book list, but that I hadn’t read or reviewed yet at the time. These are Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman, Ruthless by Ron Miscavige and Blown For Good by Marc Headley, and they’re included at the top of the post. At the end I’ve also listed four more books I’m thinking of tackling next once I feel the need for a little more Scientology madness. You can be sure they’ll also deliver.


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Inside Scientology: The Story Of America’s Most Secret Religion

by Janet Reitman

Kindle (available on Kindle Unlimited)
Paperback

Description (from Goodreads)

Reitman offers the 1st full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an evenhanded account that establishes the truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology’s development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a global spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers & ex-followers. Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to Church officials, confidential documents & extensive interviews with current & former members, this is a defining book about a little-known world.

My Take

This is an overview of Scientology’s history as cult/religion in the same vein as Going Clear. However, I found Inside Scientology to be less well organized and it also felt like a less comprehensive introduction to Scientology. It may not have helped that I listened to the book in audiobook rather than reading it – that’s always hard for nonfiction picks that are dense in information. Despite claims of having unprecedented access to the Church, I felt that Inside Scientology didn’t offer much that I hadn’t already learned about Scientology from previous books. However, there were two things that I think the book did differently than Going Clear which made it interesting to me. The first is that the author described her own experience of signing up for introductory Scientology courses for research purposes. The book also provided a detailed discussion of the case of Lisa McPherson who died while in the custody of the church – an extremely shocking case I wasn’t familiar with until I read about it in Inside Scientology.

3 Rabbits


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Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me 

by Ron Miscavige and Dan Koon

Kindle
Hardcover
Paperback

Description (from Goodreads)

The only book to examine the origins of Scientology’s current leader, Ruthless tells the revealing story of David Miscavige’s childhood and his path to the head seat of the Church of Scientology told through the eyes of his father. Ron Miscavige’s personal, heartfelt story is a riveting insider’s look at life within the world of Scientology.

My Take

I was pretty excited to read Ron Miscavige’s book about his life in Scientology and how his son David Miscavige became the head of the church after Hubbard’s passing. I listened to the book in audiobook format and I would recommend that you don’t. For some reason the audiobook reader had a weirdly stuffy voice, kind of as if he was recovering from a cold, and it was really distracting. What I liked about the book was learning more about David Miscavige’s childhood and upbringing. His father was actually the one who introduced David to Scientology to help David overcome the epileptic fits he suffered as a child. It definitely provided a different take on the life of the current head of Scientology, but I also felt that Ron Miscavige refused to take real responsibility for some of his failings as a husband and father in the book. He allowed his children to take years off school to participate in extensive Scientology courses and had a combative relationship with his wife, but every admittance of responsibility was followed by excuses in his descriptions of these aspects of his life.

3 Rabbits


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Blown For Good: Behind The Iron Curtain Of Scientology

by Marc Headley

Kindle

Description (from Goodreads)

Marc Headley provides a rare, never before seen insider’s look at life inside Scientology. He spent 15 years at their secret headquarters – a 500 acre property located deep in the California desert. The local townspeople were told lectures and films were made there. But is that all that was happening? It is the location of a multi-million dollar home for L. Ron Hubbard, built two decades after his death. It is the home of Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige. So what really happens there? Are the stories on the internet true? This is the story of what happened behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology. “…the Scientology cult, is I guarantee you, a thousand times more bizarre than you could have ever imagined.

My Take

Blown For Good felt similar in some ways to my favorite book about Scientology – Jenna Miscavige’s memoir Beyond Belief. Like Jenna, Marc Headley grew up in Scientology from a young age because his parents were involved with the church. He also ended up working at one of Scientology’s corporate facilities, the Gold Base in California. Though I still prefer Beyond Belief for its scope and how well it’s written, I really loved how in Blown For Good Marc went into extensive detail about the day to day workings of the business of Scientology from the perspective of someone who worked within its ranks. Somehow, Marc has perfect and minute recollections of people’s roles within the corporate structure of the church, down to things like what hours they were required to work, what their living conditions were life, and what sorts of punishments were doled out for imagined intransigence. His book also depicts David Miscavige as essentially bat-shit crazy, which honestly is not hard for me to believe after all I’ve read about him. One small downside to the book is that it’s written in a very colloquial fashion which didn’t really suit my taste, but there’s such a wealth and depth of information here that I think it’s definitely worth a read for the true anti-Scientology buff.

4 Rabbits


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Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Kindle
Paperback

Description (from Goodreads)

Jenna Miscavige was raised to obey. As niece of the Church of Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this controversial organization. At 21, she made a break, risking everything she’d ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, her escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decades, has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide. Captivating and disturbing, Beyond Belief is an exploration of the limits of religion and the lengths to which some went to break free.

My Take

This is my favorite Scientology memoir so far and actually one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time. You’ll hear me recommend it over and over again, because it’s just that good. Jenna’s experience as niece of Scientology’s current leader – David Miscavige – is one of a kind. Raised in the church and becoming a member of the Sea Org at a young age, Jenna faced incredible abuse when she decided to challenge the church’s precepts. From her childhood being kept apart from her parents and forced into child labor, to her adult years enslaved for almost no pay and endless hours of work in the church’s corporate offices, to finally breaking free from Scientology’s grasp, Jenna’s story often reads like a mystery thriller. If you only ever read one book about Scientology, make it Jenna’s memoir. You’ll learn so much about the lives of children who grow up in the church, of the difficulties experienced by those who try to leave the church, and of the way in which the church persecutes anyone who tries to speak up against them. The book was simply fascinating, the kind you just can’t put down. If you ever only read one book about Scientology, I would pick this one.

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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 

by Lawrence Wright

Kindle
Hardcover
Paperback

Description (from Goodreads)

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, the Looming Tower. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists–both famous and less well known–and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative skills to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

My Take

Next only to Beyond Belief, Going Clear is my second top Scientology recommendation for people interested in learning more on the topic. It’s a great overview on the origins and current practices of the church of Scientology and it was my introduction to the religion/cult. If you’re looking for a broad and complete intro to Scientology, this is the perfect place to start. I preferred it to Inside Scientology, which I read more recently, but which I felt was both less comprehensive and less well structured. Going Clear was also the basis for a critically acclaimed HBO documentary by the same title that is available for streaming on HBO Now. If you’ve never watched it and are interested in learning more about Scientology, it’s absolutely riveting. It also helps to put faces to names, as many of the people who participated in the documentary are among those who have left the church and provided testimony either in introductions to Scientology like this one or in their own memoirs about the church’s destructive effect on their lives. The documentary definitely doesn’t provide the same depth of information as the actual book though.

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Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

by Leah Remini

Kindle
Hardcover
Paperback

Description (from Goodreads)

The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology. Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

My Take

I just finished Leah Remini’s memoir – it was a quick read. Leah had a ‘normal’ experience being brought up in Scientology, until her rising fame as a sitcom star placed her in the same ranks as other Scientology celebrity members. The book gives you a glimpse into the kinds of special treatments VIP Scientologists receive when the church is trying to guilt-trip them into parting with as many of their millions as possible. With celebrities of the caliber of John Travolta and Tom Cruise, the church takes credit for all of their success in the entertainment industry, convincing them that it’s because of Scientology that they’ve been able to achieve their fame. I found Leah’s descriptions of the ways in which Tom Cruise was treated by the church as particularly scandalous and fascinating. Tom Cruise essentially has the status of a God within the church due to his extensive donations and his importance to Scientology’s image worldwide. David Miscavige is portrayed as obsessed with Tom and ready to bend to his ever whim, in a way that I’ve also heard echoed in other Scientology books on this list.

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Next On My Scientology Reading List

4 More Books About Scientology On Novels And Nonfiction

The Church Of Fear By John Sweeney

The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega

A Queer And Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein

Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story Of Scientology In Australia by Steve Cannane


Have you read any of the books on this Scientology Book List? What did you think of them? Do you agree with my ratings? Let me know in the comments.

If you want to take a look at some of the other book lists I’ve put together you can check out ones on True Crime, Feminism, Hillary Clinton, North Korea and Scientific Nonfiction.

If you’d like to keep up to date with posts on Novels And Nonfiction, make sure to follow me on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Please note this post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.

 

  1 comment for “Ten Unbelievable Books About Scientology – Updated Scientology Book List

  1. June 14, 2017 at 7:03 am

    A fascinating subject…not sure I could read this many books on it though 😀

    Like

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