Read: Boy Erased

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

I didn’t know this was turned to a movie prior to reading it. Didn’t know nothing about Nicole Kidman. Nothing. Which is a good thing because everything was left to imagination and getting right into the characters themselves.

There were many insightful quotes. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’ll try to post some of my favorite quotes another day since I don’t have my Kindle with me and I’m too lazy to check on my synced notes on Amazon or Goodreads.

Of course, highly recommended. I could resonate with the author especially on the religion bit. I spent the bulk of my teenaged years in a Baptist church. The church, youth fellowship and everything else was perfect. There wasn’t anything superficial nor hypocritical about it. Put that aside, the whole idea of Christianity and religion and how it represents themselves to determine our sexuality is beyond my reach.

That is all. Be who you want to be. Be who you really are.

Tomorrow I’m facing an uphill battle. It’s the end of an era. And I’ll be moving on to something even more challenging, and that – is my destiny.

Currently Reading: The Girls Who Went Away

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe v Wade by Ann Fessler

This is one of the books that should be made compulsory reading for anyone who’s able to procreate.

I am at chapter 4, and naively hoping to come across interview subjects from the opposite gender. I know it’s likely impossible, but it would be nice to hear from them. How they felt after their girlfriend were disappeared, what they took and carried with them to the Marine Corps – and some, the Vietnam War – after their families told them they are never to marry the girl they impregnated and love, how they felt all these decades knowing they have a daughter or a son out there.

But I know it’s not gonna happen. I’ll make do with the women’s testimonials. It’s tragic enough.

Read: Waco – A Survivor’s Story

Waco: A Survivor’s Story, by David Thibodeau

I can’t recall whether I’ve read another book on Waco – but definitely a lot of other so called ‘in-depth investigative reports’ on the matter. This book is unlike all those reports and writings. This book is by someone who was inside the ground zero when the FBI decided that killing people was the best and right thing to do. The author was also close to the sect’s leader, David Koresh, before David Koresh became David Koresh.

This book also gave another a strong, alternative perspective on David Koresh, his personality, his ‘vision’, his ‘mission’, etc. Again, nothing like what the media has portrayed him since the mid-90s. NOTHING. Nothing close. Although, I’m sure no one in their right mind will agree on his taking young girls as brides. That’s too much. But everything else – you’ve got to try and read this book.

If I could fit something else into my 2019 reading challenge, I’d pick a book on Timothy McVeigh. Perhaps.

Read: Threading My Prayer Rug

Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim, by Sabeeha Rehman

Honestly, I hated this book at the beginning. I think it had something a lot to do with her ‘I AM AMERICAN’* and ‘I’m very Americanized today’ voice. I could be deadly wrong to some of you who’ve read this (also, I read this many, many months ago, so I’m the idiot here, perhaps, yes), but at least that’s what I could recall now.

While reading this, it took me back a little to the book ‘Because They Hate’ by Brigitte Gabriel (read in 2017). But it’s not that relevant here. Just thought I’d throw that book in as it was a really good read.

Back to the author and her memoir – I must state, she is one hell of a lucky human, having met and stayed with her arranged-marriage-husband through thick and thin. Note that both of them come from privileged backgrounds/families (not that there’s anything wrong with that), which is unlike other reads of the same geographical worlds I’ve read in the past.

They’re lucky – no spouse-beatings (no traces of domestic violence in the book, at least), no secret lovers prior to their arranged marriages, decent family backgrounds (no troubled relatives to worry about e.g. relatives jailed for political ‘crimes’), no ‘cover-yourself-you-Muslim-woman’ directives from her husband and family… You get the idea (I’m sorry if you don’t).

But what the book did manage to chronicle which I learned something from (finally, something) – is the kindness shown to them by fellow immigrants of different faiths while they moved to American in the 70s (could be 80s, I forget), and during and after 9/11.

There were little to insignificant zero traces of intolerance in between those decades and pages, which seemed a little… nevermind. Perhaps the author did have a wonderful, perfect experience living as a Muslim in New York City then (and now). After all, NYC is known to be a city that’s culturally diversified and tolerant. So there’s that.

Did I mention that both the author and her husband are medical professionals? Not the rags to riches kind, if you catch my drift. Do refer to paragraph three again if you need to.

Lastly, I mentioned not really liking this book at the beginning – so did I get into it and eventually found some joy if not solace while reading and upon finishing it? The answer is no. I didn’t. I didn’t like the book, generally speaking. But I did enjoy the little anecdotes of her life growing up in Pakistan, and the kindness they were shown while settling down and rising up in the Land of the Free. That’s about it.

(The book does live up to its tagline, though: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. But after reading it – I think it’s better-off as ‘One Woman’s Journey from Pakistan to America and Life as an Americanized Muslim’)

*There’s nothing wrong about stressing your nationality in whatever way you want. I capitalized this word to stress the weight she’d given to her American life and citizenship far far away from Pakistan. That is all. You really don’t need to decipher any further.

Read: Ruthless

Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me by Ron Miscavige (with Dan Koon)

I read Troublemaker before getting my hands dirty on Ruthless. There’s no other way to put this – So here goes: Sometimes, being in a free country can really mess people up especially when it comes to cults and religion. You are deemed as ‘voluntary’ under really f*cked-up circumstances and bystanders can’t do much because of freedom of this, freedom of that – all legal, oddly speaking. When the lunatics abuse it, well – I’m sorry I can’t find a way to end that sentence.

Good read, highly recommended as this isn’t just another “I escaped from Scientology and here’s my harrowing story” book – This one’s authored by David Miscavige’s dad, ffs.

Read: The Bigamist

Ah. This book. I always have weak knees for “true stories”, because at least I know I’m in for something conventional, even if the entire story didn’t fully play out in real life.

I am most certainly not convinced that this is ‘The most shocking Internet dating story you will ever come across’, as purported by The Sun.

But I read it anyway, partly because I’m not familiar with bigamy (polygamy is more popular, ain’t so?). Bigamy is boring wrong, though certain communities practice it. But, whether it’s deception by the man or the woman or whichever gender people identify with, the act in itself is still despicable. Personally, I think polygamy is worse. Far worse. “Organized polygamy” (I “made” that up) is the worst. Think Mormonism and Islam, for example.

I won’t recommend this read if you have other books to read, really.

Deviated: Religious Connotations

A fellow reader on a Facebook bookworm group suggested “Queer Virtue” (I’m working on my 2019 Reading Challenge, post to come), so I looked it up.

When the words “Rev” popped up, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and scrolled further.

But then I gave up anyway.

I can’t quite absorb books written by religious folks, because it’s, well, likely biased.

As much as they try to preach to the general masses, it is nearly impossible not to invoke religious connotations within their narrative.

There are many other LGBTQIA books that are on my tbr and wish list, so letting this go doesn’t really affect much. But I’m glad to have come across it. I could throw it at some judgmental Christian’s face should the opportunity presents itself (me, Christian upbringing).

p.s. I need to note here that their work in helping the LGBTQIA community prevail in the midst of a bigoted society is admirable. I admire their perseverance and effort, and that books as such are of important if not compulsory influence within their religious communities.