I started watching Leah Remini’s documentary on A&E about Scientology and have been fascinated with it. I have a self-admitted fascination with how different faiths work, especially those of a more controversial nature. It was what led me to the library to find this book. And I haven’t been able to put it down since.
One of the things I most appreciate about this book is that Remini doesn’t try to portray herself as anyone other than who she is. She doesn’t clean it up for a book. She presents her story as if she were telling it to you over a cup of coffee, f-bombs and all. And she presents it with truth and honesty, not only describing her issues with the church, but putting her faults and those of her loved ones with equal measure. There are no holds barred and that really gave legitimacy to what she had to say.
The book is about her experience with Scientology and that with Hollywood. For her, the two experiences have been largely entwined. There really was no line separating Scientology from any other part of her life. Her career, her family, her friends, even her marriage… all highly dictated and controlled by her church. It is an eye-opening read.
Overall: No matter what your personal thoughts or beliefs, this is a fascinating read. It is honest, deep, and sometimes very dark. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for an intense personal story.
I should shelf this book in the horror section... I don't understand how in the world this cult still exists, it is crazy. Why would people go into this willingly? It is totally wacko, and their representatives are even more wackos. That Tom Cruise is some case. Should be in a mental institution. He is lucky he is charismatic. But damn, I will never see him with the same eyes again. Not that I liked him before, I have always sensed some weird vibes from him, but then, he is charming. Seems like behind that charming smile hides a monster-kid, ugh.
The whole concept of Scientology is scary and crazy; are we living in the past? How can people still be on this when they are forced to pay thousands of $$, be humiliated (like, being forced to clean public bathrooms with a toothbrush, or being punched repeatedly??) and controlled by other people? Who the hell are these "representatives" to demand money and personal secrets and then, silence? And the rest all keep quiet and pay and, if demanded to, are willing to erase a loving one (a friend, a family member) as he/she has never existed, only because said person is a SP ("Suppressive Person", or someone who is against the "church") or else. What. This is freakishly scary. And nuts.
It is a very interesting book (I was not familiar with Leah Remini before this, but I liked her personality, straightforward and blunt). There are hundreds of acronyms and special names given by this cult; it was a bit overwhelming and sometimes confusing. I have millions of questions currently, so now I am spending my time googling about Shelly Miscavige, and David Miscavige and Crazy Psycho Tom Cruise and the likes.
Recommended. It is informative, in regards to celebrities and Scientology (juicy stuffs) and it is very short (the last 30 pages or so are just photos). Now I am going to dig more into Scientology cult story if I can.
I gave this a 1/2 star bump in recognition of the sheer courage it takes to openly own, in print, to the kind of shortcomings Remini owns up to.
As a general rule, I'm not interested in celebrity memoirs; when I think about being rich, I think about how many books I could own, so I fall far short of the glitz and glamour loving target audience. But I have always had an idle curiosity about what would posses someone to get involved with scientology and I've read nothing but good things about this book, so I grabbed it at the library.
This is an eminently readable memoir, not just because of the insider's perspective on Scientology, but because Remini is brutally honest about herself and her choices. I imagine most celebrities (anyone, really) would try to creatively edit out those things that make them look less sympathetic, or at least rationalise their behaviour or skew the details in their favour. There's a little bit of that in Troublemaker but no more than would be expected from any person baring themselves so thoroughly. She's funny, too: I laughed even when I was cringing at the thought of what it would be like to be on the receiving end of some of her more scathing retorts.
As for the scientology, well, that's just as batsh*t crazy as I've always thought, as is Cruise. I really want to know what happened to Miscavige's wife (I'll be googling when I finish this) and I hope that man and the rest of the organisation all get what's coming to them. Remini succeeds brilliantly at showing the reader just how easy it is for honest people with the sincere wish to better themselves and the world to get sucked into this vortex of insanity.
But where she really gets my respect and admiration is for having the incredible courage to admit that, as insane and horrific and destructive as scientology is, there were aspects she was able to pull out and point to and say this was good; I benefited from this. As she was describing her early experiences in the "church" and describing those courses where she was taught to communicate clearly and take responsibility for her actions, I was nodding and thinking "yep, all good" - which scared me, because the rest of it sounded like a lunatic asylum.
By the end of the book I admired her tremendously for having the courage to write about herself (and I admire her mother and husband for allowing her to write about them - holy toledo!) and to be able to say this was my life so far and these parts sucked, but these parts made me better.
I like her, but man, I think you'd need the hide of a rhino just to survive having coffee with her, although the laughs might make it worth it.
The postman got a break from me this week, but one of my locals and my library, did not.
Between my library system getting a few upgrades and my taking the time to dig around their website a bit more, I'm figuring out how to get more out of it than I have up until now. They have a user list function, so I've been creating a list of books as I come across interesting titles. As you can see, it's working well so far.
My library haul includes Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. This is going to be my Science Fiction read for Summer Book Bingo. I dislike dystopian settings, but I dislike space and AI fiction more - and I love Fforde's other work so I'm totally willing to give this a go for the humour alone.
I also picked up a couple of titles I found in an article on LitHub that recommended books about books: A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan and The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly. Sitting next to The Book of Lost Books was Book by John Agard, which looked cute and short.
The library haul was rounded off with Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard and Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley because I've seen so many good things said about both here on BookLikes.
Two of the three bookshop buys were impulses from shelf browsing; I had just read about The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe by Kelli Ann Morgan mere hours before seeing it on the shelves, so that felt like karma. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley looks funny and I've read her essays - they're hysterical. The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman because it's birds, science and look at that cover!
Total new books: 9
Total books read this week: 9
Total physical books on TBR: 227
I hope everyone has had or is having (depending on which side of the dateline you're on) a fabulous weekend!