If you’re the kind of reader who loves books based on true stories, you may be surprised to find out how weird they can get. Today, we’ve made a compilation of the 10 books with bizarre true stories.

Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

10 Books With Bizarre True Stories
10 Books With Bizarre True Stories

This novel follows the seventeen year of Orchid who competes to be one of the Emperor’s wives in order to escape poverty and marriage. She enters the Forbidden city as a lowly concubine but soon learns the art of pleasuring and charms her way into the Emperor’s bed. In the process, she attracts dangerous foes. Moreover, she remains unaware that China will soon break down around her and that she will be the last Empress.

The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

10 Books of Weird Real Stories
10 Books of Weird Real Stories

An interesting true crime book, this is the peculiar story of the flautist Edwin Rist who stole rare bird specimens from the British Museum of National History. Two years later, a fly-fishing guide told Kirk this eccentric crime story. Kirk became engrossed in it, and spent years investigating this bizarre true crime. This novel is an exploration of obsession, the pursuit of justice and ‘man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature,’ as Goodreads says.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

10 Books With Bizarre True Stories
10 Books With Bizarre True Stories

Full of assassins, drug lords, slum dwellers and journalists, this novel is the fictional account of the attempt Bob Marley’s assassination days before the Jamaican election of 1976. This is almost a modern epic, scripted artfully and massively. From the period of turbulence that followed the aftermath of the assassination attempt to the radically altered Jamaica of the 90s, this book condenses history.

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton

10 Books of Weird Real Stories
10 Books of Weird Real Stories

This historical fiction is based on the true story of Ernest Hemmingway. It chronicles Martha, a war correspondent as she meets Hemmingway in a dive bar. The meeting takes place in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. Against this chaotic backdrop, witty and intimate conversations between the friends turn into something more. Hemmingway is drawn to Martha’s fearlessness and she, to his literary genius. As she makes her name as a war correspondent and he begins his Nobel prize-winning work, the story shapes up and enchants the reader.

Without a Country by Ayse Kulin

10 Books With Bizarre True Stories
10 Books With Bizarre True Stories

This novel is the true story of Gerhard and Elsa Schliemann, a German Jewish couple who fled Nazi Germany and anti-Semitism for Europe. Unable to find opportunities as a scientist, Gerhard finally arrives at Turkey. Turkey is a safe haven – it values Gerhard’s profession and gives them refuge. But with military coups, diasporic identity and marriage issues, the war against anti-Semitism is long but over.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

10 Books of Weird Real Stories
10 Books of Weird Real Stories

This wonderfully paced book is a fictional imagination of a true crime that occurred in Canada in 1843. The story is told from the perspective of Grace Marks, convicted for the murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. Grace has no memory of the incident. The novel begins with the arrival of a psychiatrist who employs his knowledge to extract Grace’s memories. Atwood captures and recreates the time and setting so vividly that it’s inevitable to get engrossed in the story. The book is softer than others on the list, but it will keep you on the edge of your seat nonetheless.

The Final Confession of Mabel Stark by Robert Hough

10 Books With Bizarre True Stories
10 Books With Bizarre True Stories

Mabel Stark was the celebrated circus superstar of the 1920s and this novel is the story of her life. She was bold, brazen, promiscuous and unabashed. From her escape from a mental institution and her entry into circus life to her five marriages and in the end, the loss of her cats and the fierce Bengal tiger, the book chronicles it all.

The Avenue of Giants by Marc Dugain

10 Books of Weird Real Stories
10 Books of Weird Real Stories

This novel is the truly bizarre story of Al Kenner, a man over 7 feet with an IQ higher than Einstein’s. As this extraordinary man’s life is tainted by his parents’ divorce and abuse from his mother. From leading a double life to being a serial killer, this book delves into this complex killer’s life and crime.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

10 Books With Bizarre True Stories
10 Books With Bizarre True Stories

This novel follows a dysfunctional family during the Hurricane Katrina. From an abent father and his teenage pregnant daughter to a pet loving son and his pitbull, this novel features an eccentric cast of characters. As all of these make do with the scarce supplies at home and tackle the disaster together, a fictional account of the true natural calamity comes to life.

A Serial Killer in Nazi Berlin by Scott Andrew Selby

10 Books of Weird Real Stories
10 Books of Weird Real Stories

As the title suggests, this is the non-fictional account of Paul Ogorzow, a serial killer in Nazi Germany. Enriched with meticulous historical detail about life, culture and living conditions during the salient period, this book takes non-fic to the next level. It tackles the theme of appearance versus reality. It shows you that respectable looking model citizens may have a monstrous criminal side to them that often goes unnoticed. Overall, it’s a weird and captivating book that you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

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