9 Books to Read if You’re Fascinated by Cults

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December 10, 2021

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Lizzie Campbell

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I’ll try to say this in the most tactful, non-crazy way I can find – I freakin’ love cults. By which I mean, I love READING about cults the same way I love terrifying myself with true crime podcasts and the way I was binge watching 20/20 wayyyy too young.

I feel like cults are having a moment? Which is to say, I feel like suddenly there’s been a lot of popular media around cults. Dammit, they’re fascinating.

And I’ve read a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction, about cults and cult-adjacent topics, so I thought I’d share my favorites!

(I really promise I’m not going to join or start a cult).

Godshot

BY CHELSEA BIEKER

This novel is incredible but also super infuriating and heartbreaking. I guess really all of these books are, but this one really got to me.

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The Girls

By Emma Cline

This book is essentially about the Manson girls without actually being ABOUT the Manson girls, you know? Anyways, it’s good, plenty of psychedelic 70s vibes.

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Bunny

By Mona Awad

I had no idea what I was getting into with this book and to be honest I still have no idea, all I know is that I devoured it in one afternoon and it was incredibly bizarre in the best way.

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Cultish

By Amanda Montell

This book is nonfiction, but one of the most fascinating things I’ve read in a while. Montell covers how language shapes cults and explores everything from actual cults like Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown, to cults of personality, social media influencers, MLMs, etc. I really can’t recommend it enough.

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God Spare the Girls

By Kelsey McKinney

This is more about heavily religious, evangelical communities and how they can often hide dark secrets than it is about an actual cult but… sort of the same thing, right?

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We Can Only Save Ourselves

By Alison Wisdom

This is another great 70s, Manson Girl-esque book. I’ve seen it described as a cross between Virgin Suicides and The Girls, and I would definitely agree. I actually liked it a lot more than The Girls, it felt a bit more human.

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Ninth House

By Leigh Bardugo

This may be more secret society than cult, but really – the line between the two is very thin. At any rate, this is dark academia with paranormal elements and I highly recommend it.

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The Book of Essie

By Meghan Maclean Weir

This book follows one of the daughters of one of those super-religious mega families that get their own tv shows on TLC (you KNOW who I’m talking about). It’s heartbreaking and fascinating.

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Apocalypse Child

By Flor Edwards

Rounding out this list is a memoir about a woman who was raised in the Children of God cult. To be fair I haven’t read this yet, it’s still in the mail somewhere, but I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

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9 Books to Read if You’re Fascinated by Cults

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