I was in Scientology for twenty five years and was fortunate enough to get out. I got in around 1989 and out by about 2014. I have been out for about 5 years. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how have I been able to reject Scientology indoctrination and become independent of the mindset so well. A lot of people who leave Scientology never recover or escape the hold Scientology has on their minds and lives. I was extremely fortunate to have a combination of factors come together that in my opinion made recovery possible and even supported. Several people in my life including my wife helped me in numerous ways. Jon Atack and Arnie Lerma also helped me. Both provided a lot of encouragement, advice and support. Arnie Lerma unfortunately is no longer with us but Jon Atack has continued to provide tremendous and unequaled support in encouragement and advice. Over the last five years one thing that I could point out that perhaps has been the most important factor in my efforts at recovery is my willingness to take on new information and to consider advice. I have taken advice from cult experts and people who have helped a lot of people to recover from Scientology. Some of the advice is predictable but some is unexpected. Some ideas and subjects are discouraged and invalidated in Scientology indoctrination. In Scientology recovery these things often help people to recover and if I wasn't willing to keep looking, consider ideas I long rejected, and consider ideas I had thought couldn't possibly be true I either wouldn't have thrown off the influence and negative effects from Scientology or would have done so much, much, much more slowly, if at all or with much more difficulty. I am not saying every idea I studied or source I looked at is correct or perfect, but they helped me to mental emancipation from the insidious and pernicious influence of Scientology. In getting out of Scientology I had to find the work of Jon Atack which I have written on before and started with his Scientology Mythbusting articles at the Underground Bunker blog. It is worth pointing out that for me with my personal experiences in Scientology and indoctrination finding the articles by Jon Atack was absolutely necessary as a first step to getting me the exact information I personally needed to open my mind and untangle enough from the lies and confusion from Scientology for any other information to have any chance at being accepted and beneficial. The initial information was like the exact right combination to unlock a lock. It didn't entirely free me but it did open my mind enough for other information to be considered. But I had to continue reading and added books. To really study some things you need to read books. I understand that Scientology indoctrination in my case took hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours in Scientology. Undoing that is not going to happen in minutes or a few hours. And it won't happen without work, time alone doesn't heal these wounds. Some people are out of Scientology for decades, make no effort to recover and do not get better. I am going to list several books I have read in my efforts to exit from Scientology and find a better or at least independent way of thinking for myself. This is not a perfect list or the best possible list, it is my list from what I ended up reading. I have broken down this list to topics and some overlap. Some are ones that not everyone will be interested in. If you absolutely see no use in something and cannot think it has any possible use skip it. Maybe it will be different for you later. Maybe not. It is really just a record of books I read in my journey out of Scientology, not the best possible list or one edited to be the most effective possible. It is an accounting of what I did, not what I should have done. So, if you are interested in some book or feel it is likely the right track for you take it as a suggestion for your consideration. I have created this list primarily for someone who is looking to recover from being in Scientology or another cult or someone interested in learning about cults. I have included topics that are not directly related as they have helped me to find possibilities outside the limited ideas presented in Scientology. If you have never had everything in your life defined and framed by the ideology of a totalist cult that defines every detail of life, existence and reality it may seem odd to you that someone would point out books on subjects unrelated to cults, recovery, critical thinking and related topics. But if you have ever been in such a group you can see why it can benefit a person to read books that are not in the cult doctrine. Just being able to consider ideas outside the cult is a huge step, an important step, for many cult members. The transition from only seeing ideas and sources as binary - either all correct and infallible or all wrong and automatically rejected , especially by association with either a recognized authority or association with a discredited source - is a profound shift in thinking. It is unfortunately a change many ex Scientologists and other ex cult members never make. Being able to look at ideas from multiple sources with different perspectives and selectively accept that the ideas may be correct, or incorrect or uncertain and that one source in one book can have some combination of correct, incorrect and uncertain ideas is the correct way to look at things but entirely foreign to cults. Understanding that, for example, one claim in a book doesn't automatically prove other claims that it doesn't rationally directly support is a difficult lesson to find if you are a cult member. And that one claim being incorrect doesn't automatically invalidate unrelated claims from the same book and source. I am going to include books on critical thinking for example because they directly combat cultic thinking and counter the negative effects of indoctrination. Some people who have never been in cults will feel the material in these books is interesting or beneficial or have their interest raised enough to read articles online. If you get interest in a topic or subject or even a term or a feeling you are confused by it or it might be beneficial or fill a gap in knowledge and want to see if it is right for you it is totally fine to look up online articles and videos and get a taste of it. If you want more then reading the book on it can be the way to go. Key Numbers indicate suggested order of reading in a subject 1 is first, 2 is second and so on. Letters indicate difficulty. E is for easy, M is for moderate, and H is for hard. Scientology A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack Bare-faced Messiah by Russell Miller The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Borstein Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer Troublemaker by Leah Remini Cults and mass movements Opening Minds: The Secret World of Manipulation, Undue Influence and Brainwashing by Jon Atack The True Believer by Eric Hoffer Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias Traumatic Narcissism by Daniel Shaw Recovery From Cults edited by Michael Langone Cults In Our Midst by Margaret Singer Cults Inside Out by Rick Alan Ross White American Youth by Christian Picciolini The Rape of the Mind by Joost Merloo Psychology, Social Psychology and Neuroscience Sway by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman M Influence by Robert Cialdini 1 E Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson 2 E A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger 3 M Social Psychology for Dummies by Daniel Richardson M A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind by Robert Burton M On Being Certain by Robert Burton M A Mind So Rare by Merlin Douglas H The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt H The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg E The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout E Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman H Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow 4 E The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot M The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon M Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely M Behave by Robert Sapolsky H How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker H Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travis and Elliot Aronson M The Brain by David Eagleman E Hypnosis Trances People Live by Stephen Wolinsky and Margaret O. Ryan 1 H Hypnotism Comes of Age by Bernard Wolfe and Raymond Rosenthal 2 E Politics Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank Lies, Incorporated by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters The Fox Effect by Ari Rabin-Havt Don't Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff A Colony In A Nation by Chris Hayes Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander Our Political Nature by Avi Tuschman No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker Moral Politics by George Lakoff How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley Critical Thinking On Liberty by John Stuart Mill 1 E Critical Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder 2 M How to Become a Really Good Pain in The Ass by Christopher DiCarlo 3 M Intelligent Disobedience by Ira Chaleff 4 E Warnings by Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy 5 E Okay, this is a big list. I am going to give some advice on the best order to read some of these books and my reasoning. The book On Liberty by John Stuart Mill is probably the first book I recommend to anyone who is looking to understand anything or how to learn or be a good student. It is extremely short at around a hundred pages and very easy to read and understand. For anyone looking to understand persuasion a simple order has been established. We have Influence by Robert Cialdini first, incredibly easy to read and understand and a great introduction to the subject. Second is Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, still easy to read and understand. Third I place A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger. It is moderate to tough difficulty. I know it can be really tough, but there is a way to lower your its difficulty to moderate - it has lots of studies that are described in fine details. If a study has inconclusive or uncertain results I just try to understand the initial experiment and that this study was inconclusive, that's it. Don't get caught up in trying to memorize every detail of inconclusive experiments. I must emphasize that this book and theory is crucial in my opinion for understanding cults, psychology and human behavior. Cognitive dissonance theory is a subject and well researched. It is far more than a definition or paragraph and this book gives you the barebones minimum to have an educated opinion on the subject. Fourth I recommend Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. It is easy to read, not too long and gives a great introduction to a lot of information from neuroscience and psychology. Probably as easy a book as you can find on these topics. Do not be reluctant to read it. Further reading should go by your interest in this topic. It would probably be best if possible for someone to read the first three recommendations from the critical thinking category before anything else, being first On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, second Critical Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder, then third How to Become a Really Good Pain in The Ass by Christopher DiCarlo before reading anything else as they give a foundation for approaching everything else. That may be the most important general information I can give regarding this list. Critical Thinking, like cognitive dissonance theory is a subject and takes a good amount of study and a tremendous amount of effort to utilize. Frankly most people read a description or definition for critical thinking or a few paragraphs, assume they personally already are a great natural critical thinker, then reject the subject and arrogantly leave it forever more. This is in part because of the bias blindspot - it is almost impossible to recognize bias and errors in one's own thinking as they are hidden but extremely easy to see them in other people. This combined with naive realism - the tendency we normally have to see our own knowledge and thinking as unbiased, objective and error free - leads to most people just going , "I understand what critical thinking is - it's what I do and others need to learn." But everyone assuming this leads to no one learning it. It is extremely hard and takes going against intuition and natural impulses to even study it. I am going to take a different approach with books on cults, because the needs and interests vary so greatly. The simplest first book that is extremely easy to read is Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan. Very, very easy to read and understand. Great for someone just leaving a cult or without much education. The book next in ease of reading has a step up in how much it digs into the psychology of cults but uses very easy language and descriptions that are vivid and thorough. If you were in a cult what happened is explained well and if you were never in a cult you can understand it very well in my opinion from reading this book, Cults In Our Midst by Margaret Singer, it's a classic. What to read really is prioritized by what you want, how deeply you want to get and your needs. I absolutely recommend Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein for everyone who wants to understand the emotional and mental effects being in a cult causes, why cult members cannot understand things they should understand and why they act the way they do. It tackles attachment theory from psychology and hard brain science in a way nothing else does and digs into the methods cults are hard around in a unique model combining information from Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism with other relevant work rarely considered regarding cults. Traumatic Narcissism by Daniel Shaw has a lot to compliment this with information from other fields. To further flesh out the similarities between cults and abusive relationships Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias is superb. Two books really are indispensable for the serious student of cultic studies. They are not the easier books to get through but for good reasons - they are both jam packed with crucial information on cults. Opening Minds: The Secret World of Manipulation, Undue Influence and Brainwashing by Jon Atack is a well rounded examination of influence. Cults Inside Out by Rick Alan Ross has a terrific overview of cults and the best description of materials on cults I have ever seen. It can be the basis of a complete curriculum on cults with all the references it describes. Both get my highest possible recommendation. Regarding Scientology we have two kinds of books, very personal memoirs that describe specific lives of specific people in Troublemaker, A Queer And Pleasant Danger and Beyond Belief. In contrast we have three books that take on the history of both Scientology and Ron Hubbard himself, A Piece of Blue Sky , The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and Bare-faced Messiah each describe much of the history of Scientology. Each is well worth the effort in my opinion. Scientology watchers watchers in my opinion cannot go wrong with A Piece Of Blue Sky by Jon Atack. Possibly the best researched history of Scientology ever written. A few of these books are frankly much more difficult than the rest. Both books by Steven Pinker are very tough. Behave by Robert Sapolsky is brutally hard in places because he dives deep into neuroscience, hormones, genetics, primatology , neuroendocrinology and more. But it is extremely thorough and connects the dots on how behavior is influenced by neurotransmitters, hormones, education, genetics, abuse, poverty and more. Despite the challenge I must recommend it highly. I have written several blog posts and series on several of the books listed. The series How Cults Work is on the book Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Regarding the Critical Thinking model described by Richard Paul and Linda Elder I put out these blog posts: Scientology versus Critical Thinking - Extreme Contrasts https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Cornerstones of Critical Thinking https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Regarding the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow I put out the Alternatives to Scientology Subliminal series https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Regarding The Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson I put out Scientology and the Age of Propaganda https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Regarding A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger I put out Scientology and Cognitive Dissonance Theory https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Regarding the book Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan I put out Scientology Viewed Through The BITE Model By Steven Hassan https://mbnest.blogspot.com... I have an excerpt with Doctor Robert Jay Lifton's Criteria For Thought Reform https://mbnest.blogspot.com... Okay. This is just books and I read lots of articles and watched many videos as well. But the point of ALL this being written up here is so anyone looking to understand my road out of Scientology or to start or continue their own can look at what someone else has done. People who were never in cults, abusive relationships or totalitarian groups may still want to look at some of these books or subjects too. I wanted to leave as clear an answer as possible in case anyone wants to know, even after I am long gone.