Friday, October 24, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Slate.com and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: "Going Clear," "Behind The Beautiful Forevers"

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Zoe Triska of The Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's newest living segment, "The Book Reader."

I recently read Lawrence Wright's new book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison Of Belief." I went into Wright's book already knowing quite a bit about the secretive religion but I still learned a lot.

Wright alleges that members of the Sea Org, which acts as the church's clergy, have actually had to escape when they want to leave. Sometimes they are tracked, followed, and brought back, only to be punished. Punishments for betraying the church in some way have supposedly included cleaning a bathroom floor with a toothbrush, doing intense manual labor and only being able to eat from a bucket of scraps.

Wright also asserts that some church members are paid significantly below minimum wage, while some go for weeks without being paid. And that they are then compelled by the church to band together to get wealthy leader David Miscavige extravagant birthday presents. Some former members have also made claims that Miscavige has physically assaulted them or someone else. The church denies all these claims.

The church has a history of harassing writers who have attempted to reveal controversial information. Wright's work has already been bashed by the church, which claims that the book is "so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid" and that it has identified "more than 200 errors so far."

This book is a fast-paced, intriguing read. Wright deals with big picture rather than small details, making 372 pages of information much easier to take in. It is currently available for download and print format from Knopf Books.

I also just finished Katherine Boo's "Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, And Hope in a Mumbai City." This heartbreaking book follows the lives of several families. Tragedy constantly strikes, and Boo paints a saddening picture of what poverty actually looks like.

The book was a National Book Award Winner for Non-Fiction last year, and it made a lot of "Best Books Of 2012" roundups. If you're a crier, I wouldn't recommend reading this book in a public place. However, don't get discouraged by how depressing it is! The author's note at the end will leave you feeling uplifted.

The book is now available for download and print format from Random House.

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