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A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today
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A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,841 ratings  ·  346 reviews
A stunningly original memoir of a nice Jewish boy who joined the Church of Scientology and left twelve years later, ultimately transitioning to a woman. A few years later, she stopped calling herself a woman and became famous as a gender outlaw.

Kate Bornstein—gender theorist, performance artist, author—is set to change lives with her compelling memoir. Wickedly funny and d
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  2,841 ratings  ·  346 reviews

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Start your review of A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

This wins the award for best title that I can ever remember seeing. I actually went to my library page requesting a different book, but when that wasn’t available it offered A Queer and Pleasant Danger as a possible substitute.

On paper I appear to be about the last person on the face of the Earth who should want to read this selection. I’m old not young, I met my husband when I was little more than a fetus and have been marrie
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm not really sure what can I say about Kate Bornstein's new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger, other than WOW! This an amazing, intense, heartfelt read that's goes far beyond questions of gender and sexuality to examine, really, what it means to be human.

Written in a casual, conversational, sometimes rambling manner, this is a very easy book to enjoy. One of its many quirks that I found so delightful was the way in which Kate would tell a story, swear it was the honest-to-gosh truth, then tu
April (The Steadfast Reader)

But let me start out with what bothered me, which was the apparent levity in which she treats her eating disorders and the desire to cut. S&M - different issue - I'm not here to judge. Both anorexia and cutting are serious issues that should be treated (or at least acknowledged) as such.

That being said, the apparent honesty and freshness in the way that she writes is amazing. Mark Twain believed that no man could ever write a completely true biography in his lifetime -- or ever. Kate B
Cheyenne Blue
I suspect that many of the people who read this book are hoping for the insider gossip on one of these topics: scientology, transmen, transwomen, lesbians, eating disorders, sadomasochism, cutting, and variations on gender queer including some you may not have thought of.

I was here primarily for the scientology which is head and shoulders the most bizarre thing in this book. To this little Australian, a belief in Scientology (along with a liking for grits) is the most incomprehensible part of A
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
WOW. there is a lot going on with this book, a memoir of how kate bornstein went from being a high-ranking & male member of scientology's sea org in the 70s to being the wild & wacky 60-something trans lady she is today. she claims that she wrote this book specifically for her daughter, jessica, & jessica's two teenage children. kate hasn't been allowed to see or speak to jessica since jessica was a tiny child, due to being branded a "suppressive person" by the church of scientology. jessica & h ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The subtitle says it all! Bornstein is a darkly humorous and enchanting storyteller. She’s been through some shit and is incredibly brave, but sometimes so self destructive. In a world that generally doesn’t understand her, she persists and succeeds. This isn’t quite like any memoir I’ve read before and I’ve absolutely gained some perspective. And isn’t that the beauty of reading? Learning about other people’s experiences is vital. Empathy is cool. Empathy is necessary.
Mrs. Danvers
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an absolute delight. I can't say enough good things about Bornstein's terrific memoir. Loved it to pieces! ...more
Alex Templeton
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Transgender issues are big within the liberal and feminist communities now, as they should be. As this is a life experience I know very little about, I was excited to read Kate Bornstein’s memoir, of her journey from manhood to not-quite-womanhood (she doesn’t identify herself with either sex pronoun, but I will use the pronoun “she” here for ease). I ended up feeling about this book the way I felt about some people at my alma mater, Sarah Lawrence, and I feel about some members of the liberal c ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ok, gotta be honest. I did not give this much of a try. I read 50-60 pages. I just could not relate to the story. The adult cutter is not something that I enjoy reading about. And these days, I am all about enjoyment. I thought that the Scientology stuff would be more of an enticement, but it seemed clouded with the possiblility of a lawsuit and still kinda weirdly vague. Although the author's story is intriguing and the book summary is just the best brief description EVER, it was just not for m ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Fascinating. Uncomfortable in places, but totally worth it.
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up to read on the recommendation of someone that's recently been in a similar place to where I'm at and I went into it not knowing anything more about it/her than I picked up from the blurb etc. From the way it starts I wasn't expecting to find too much that strongly resonated with me, Kate is one of those people that knew from a young age she wasn't meant to be a man which is not something I've experienced. Then about a quarter of the way into it I was floored by how strongly I r ...more
Danni Green
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. Kate Bornstein is amazing. She has been a personal hero/ine of mine since my early days of gender questioning. Everything she's written has been nothing short of life-changing for me, and this book was no exception. She speaks her truth, loudly and brazenly, offering an open invitation for others to do the same, and I have no doubt that she has saved the lives of many human beings of all sorts of genders by doing so. This book offered fascinating insight into the world of S ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the themes of the book is that Kate Bornstein does not speak for all transgendered people. Still, I love having a memoir that speaks so candidly about many fringe groups--Scientology, trans-community, S&M community--that are seen as taboo. You may not agree with her choices (it bothered me a little that she mentioned it's very important to discuss entering a BDSM relationship before doing it, only to follow that with, "but we didn't and it was totally awesome (until it wasn't)!") but I be ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Okay…when I read the synopsis of this book I was intrigued. A Jewish man who becomes a transgender woman who was a member of the church of scientology and enjoys sadomasochism. Sounds interesting … right? This book started out well enough. The first few chapters spoke about her and her upbringing, pretty typical stuff. Then she starts talking about her experience with the church of scientology. This went on for chapters and chapters. It is more than half the book. It was mostly interesting stuff ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"It was femmes who saved my life - femmes and the film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion."

I adored this book. Kate's writing is so easy to read, full of humor and no small number of surprises. My own life seems devastatingly ordinary in comparison. Just loved it!

Side note: I can certainly see how some of the content could be triggering to others (especially with regard to eating disorders and self harm) but I was aware of the content warnings before reading the book and wasn't blindsided.
I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was more hard core than I would have liked and that made it a bit disturbing. It also presented a couple o psychological self-harming issues as something that happens, no big deal.
Nevertheless, I take my hat off to Mrs Bornstein, for having the courage not only to live the life she wanted but also to present her naked truth to the world.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
WOW....what an amazing and refreshingly honest memoir. Yes, some parts might be a bit tough for some, such as the intimate description of of cutting. But for myself, it was a unique opportunity to understand another humans way of being....if that makes sense. I love HONEST memoirs!!
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
How could I not?

I never write reviews, but I recognize that my friends on the whole lean toward conservative, (myself included), and I figured this one would raise some eyebrows. I am also compelled to admit that I was nervous even to mark this one as read. That said, I’d like to justify this selection while trying my best not to offend anyone, (though I expect this to be the more difficult feat).

Back to my initial statement, how exactly does one stumble upon a title like this, or more specific
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book is what I would describe as a “Chatty Memoir,” the kind that is written as though she’s sitting across from you lounging in your living room telling you her life story. It’s so engaging. She often addresses the reader as a pal, telling us to go ahead and google things while she waits. I’ve read a lot of Kate’s theory and seen her perform and keynote events but never got the full scoop of what she’s gone through. I mean, the process of getting to be a charming babe like Kate Bornstein is ...more
Emilia P
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: real-books
A very loving 3. Kate, I love you. I am sure that's what you intended, and it works. I do love you. You're so unapologetically yourself, and so well-spoken without being self-important or angry or super-mopey, even though I know you can be super-mopey. The world is blessed to have people like you, who can assure transgender folks protesting your stuff with signs that say "Kate Bornstein doesn't speak for me" that you never have intended to and never will but are willing to share your own experie ...more
"Disney will never make a movie about my life story, and that's a shame--I'd make a really cute animated creature" (page 3).

Some years ago, a friend recommended that I read Gender Outlaw. Naturally, it was out of print, and I had a perfectly awful time trying to find a copy (without resorting to Amazon). Imagine my pleasure when I finally ran across a copy and purchased it...and imagine my displeasure when I realised that it had been reprinted and was suddenly available all over the place, and t
Adam Dunn
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt
Reading reviews of this book online, I find few reviews by men. I think it’s difficult for gay men to accept female sexuality, at least it is for me. I am not a woman, I am not attracted to women, and the idea of female sexuality is one I’d rather not explore. Not to say I’m against it, not in the least. I am a staunch feminist, through and through. It’s just difficult for me.
Some other things difficult for me include religion, S & M, and the concept of people not putting labels on themselves. I
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting, dark, uplifting, sad. I could go on for a long time just listening descriptive words for this book. I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to be made wary of the author - to potentially have an unreasonable narrator in a memoir. When the narrator and the person the book is about be the same person. I have never encountered that in non-fiction before but at the same time I feel that you should always approach a memoir/biography/nonfiction book in this way. These are this pers ...more

What a wild ride Kate Bornstein's life has been. Born and raised as a man, Bornstein's journey through scientology--including her marriage and fatherhood--seems stranger than fiction. As another reviewer wrote, "In the first six pages we learn that Kate is an anorexic Jewish sadomasochist lesbian transsexual woman with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and lots of tattoos and a bionic knee and borderline personality disorder, who writes porn and used to be in a
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've long been curious about what it's like to be a transgender person and have felt tremendous empathy for what seems like an intensely difficult and invalidating growing up / self actualization process. I can't imagine how challenging it is to have your body and all its hormonal processes be so at odds with how you genuinely feel, like you're trapped in a prison that's moving around with you wherever you go.

Kate Bornstein's life is so full of statistical improbabilities that a book about any p
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This book never lives up to its title, which makes it sound like a wonderful and bizarre voyage through transgenderism and Scientology. Actually, it's a pretty prosaic narrative of the pretty weird life of Al Bornstein, how he always wanted to be a woman, and how he does become a transsexual by the end of the book and changes his/her name to Kate.

Too many graphic sex scenes about his orgasms and his many partners; lots of boring stuff about his 12 years as a Scientologist and what a crook and ty
Kate Bornstein has been one of my personal heroes since Gender Outlaw rocked my world in college. Kate is a gifted storyteller and her writing is theatrical and incredibly engaging. I appreciate her unflinching approach to taboo personal topics such as her eating disorder, cutting, and dysphoria- they are real and given weight in the book but never approached as a reason to be ashamed. Ooh and gurrrrl, Ms Borstein is serving alllll the tea about her experience as a high ranking officer in the ch ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book mainly because of the title -- it just called to me for some reason. I guess partly I like hearing about people "escaping" Scientology. Also, I was a little curious about being transgender as one of my siblings is. But, once I started reading it, I really wanted to know more and more about the author.

She gives you a great insight into the Church of Scientology and the life and transition of a transgender person. I guess I never realized some of the difficulties and that even l
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt, memoir
This book is very likeable: the story is essentially summed up by the subtitle, but Bornstein's prose makes it a warm and thoughtful account. Bornstein cover most of her life up to the age of 60 or so, and I believe she has material for two or three more books than this. Because of the wealth of material, some sections feel rushed, and I wanted more reflection. We get some idea of why Scientology appealed to her, or why BDSM is now an important part of her life, but I'd really like more in depth ...more
I don't know why I left the last 20 pages unread for over a year. I started over and read the whole thing again in a matter of days.

Kate Bornstein has led an interesting life by anyone's standards. There's a little something for everyone in her memoir: she started a closeted trans hippie boychick, then took to the sea on L. Ron Hubbard's personal yacht, rising to become a high-ranking Scientologist and parent who was excommunicated upon discovering a dark secret, and seized the opportunity to me
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Kate Bornstein is a Jewish-American author, playwright, performance artist, and gender theorist.

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