Monday, May 5, 2014

The Best Book I'll Never Read Again

I think I've really put it out there that I love makeup. A lot of my friends, acquaintances and even sometimes strangers ask me for advice about makeup. So I think that if I had to give one piece of advice that could help everyone, I'd tell them that if you're gonna be the kind of girl that posts an Instagram photo of every new Mac lipstick you buy (guilty), people are probably going to think you're a superifical moron. So you should go ahead and read a book every once in a while, so when people mockingly ask you how much money you spend on makeup, you can hit them back like, "I don't know, how much Kafka have you read?"

(You don't have to mention that you read and loved the whole Shopoholic series too).

I  had a love of reading long before I had a love for makeup. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I was an ugly adololescent and really had to lean wits and intelligence to get through in life for a while there. I know, just awful. And while I have since learned to pluck my eyebrows, I still try to get a good book in as often as I can. I own a ton of books. They're the first thing I want to unpack when I move, and I keep them prominently displayed in my living room. Partially because of this thing that pops up my facebook feed every few months:
Oh I got books.
Shit, if I want to get any action I better put my books where people can see them. But also just because I really like looking at them.

I've read a lot of books in my life. But there is one that stands out as the book that most personally affected me, that I might call my favourite book. But that I'm not sure I'd ever want to read again. That book is Helter Skelter.

Helter Skelter is the true story of the murders committed by the Manson family. It was writted by Vincent Bugliosi, who was the prosecutor in the 1970 trial of Charles Manson. It is the most terrifying book that I have ever read.

I wouldn't say that I'm a big true crime fan. But this book is nothing like the sensational, superfical paperbacks you find at the airport or a drugstore. I have never read a book like this-it is well written, and thorough. I thought that I knew about Charles Manson before I read it, but there is far more to learn about him and the horrible crimes committed by his followers. Bugliosi does an amazing job of transporting you into the time that the crimes took place-the late 60's, at the end of the Flower Power movement. As I read it, I felt deeply emotionally effected. This book scared me. And I don't mean it was a little spooky. I mean, it really got to me in a deep way and affected my mental well being. I had nightmares and had to take breaks from reading it. It got me really thinking about deep shit-there was just way more to this story than I ever expected.

When I read Helter Skelter, I became kind of obsessed with learning as much as I possibly could about Manson, the Manson Family(who lived with Manson in a commune type of setting), and their victims. And I know I'm not the only person who has felt that way upon reading the book. The more I read, the more I wanted to understand how a group of very young, supposed hippies could be driven to viciously murder people they had never met. I watched tons of YouTube videos of interviews with the victim's family members, Manson followers, and Manson himself. For some reason I became especially fixated on Susan Atkins aka Sadie Mae Glutz-aged 21 when she participated in the Manson murders-including the killing of eight and a half months pregnant Sharon Tate. There's a haunting interview with Atkins soon after being found guilty of murder and sent to prison for life, in which she seems completely detatched from the crimes. In later interviews she claims to have found God and to be deeply remorseful for her crimes. That made me think about something I had never thought of before. God or not, how do you live with that kind of remorse, if you really feel it? The interviews with her are incredibly disturbing.

There are people who see Charles Manson as some sort of hero. I'm not on that bandwagon. But I am certainly fascinated with him, and horrifed with his ability to manipulate weak minded people. And I think that's what scared me the most about reading this book. In some way, I understood how it all happened. I understood how a charismatic leader with access to a lot of drugs could lead young, lost people to believe whatever he wanted them to believe. It scared me because I identified with the thought of wanting to belong to something outside of society, and I could see how the offer of that would be attractive to people who felt that they didn't have a place. I think that's the most sickening part about this book. On some level, you can identify with everyone involved, even if you don't want to. It really reminded me that killers don't wear labels, monsters come in all forms, the world is chaotic and completely out of our control.

I do recommend this book. It's not just another true crime book that is easily forgotten. I can almost guarantee that if you read this book, it will get into your brain and stay there awhile. It made me think about some things that I maybe didn't want to think about-but I think it's good to get uncomfortable like that sometimes. Because these things really happened, and as awful as they may be, the story deserves to be told. I might recommend that you keep a light read handy for when you finish it though-your brain might need a little break. I usually like to go back to my favourite books and read them over again. This one, I'm not sure I'll ever do that. But it stays on my bookshelf, beside my Hunter S. Thompsons and Bukowskis. My observations show that those are the books most likely to get- and keep- a man interested. If anyone wanted to know. You're welcome ladies.

As always, thank you for reading.

Sharon Tate