There is something unexplainably fascinating about cults, maybe it is because we know so little about them. In real life they are horrifying, however in literature, cults are alluring. The books about cults, whether fictional or non-fictional, allow readers to delve into the human psyche and understand the motivations that drive humans to make choices and find a sense of belonging. Here is list of 10 interesting books about cults, some are fictional and some are non-fictional.

The Girls by Emma Cline

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 1)

The Girls by Emma Cline is loosely based on the Manson cult. The story is set in Northern California, during the summer at the end of the 1960s. At the beginning of the summer, a 14 year-old Evie Boyd, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, sees a group of girls in the park. She is immediately intrigued by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie befriends Suzanne, an enthralling girl, and joins the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader.

The stay at a run down ranch hidden in the hills. For Evie the eerie ranch is a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother, her obsession with Suzanne increases. Evie is soon driven by the intensity of her relationship with Suzanne, and without realizing she falls to the whims of this Manson-like cult.

Under The Banner Of Heaven: A Story Of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer 

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 2)

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer is a page-turning non-fiction thriller. The book centers on a double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who claimed that they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their victims, an innocent mother and her baby daughter. The Lafferty brothers are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a sect of Mormonism that split from the Mormon Church over a century ago. Krakauer investigates the crime and takes readers inside isolated communities in the American West, Canada, and Mexico, where there are some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists.

In Salt Lake City, the Fundamentalist Mormon establishment disobeys both civil authorities and the mainstream Mormon establishment. The leaders of these establishment are fanatics who answer only to God. The members of FDLS practice polygamy, the leader of the largest fundamentalist church took seventy-five wives, many of whom he married when they were fourteen or fifteen and he was in his eighties. The fundamentalist prophets exercise complete control over the lives of their followers, and preach that any day now the world will be wiped clean in a hurricane of fire, saving only their most obedient followers.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, And The Prison Of Belief by Lawrence Wright

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 3)

Going Clear is a book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. The book takes a deep look into the world of Scientology. The book is based on more than 200 personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists, both famous and lesser known and years of archival research. Lawrence Wright used his investigative skills to uncover the inner workings of the Church of Scientology. The book talks about the origin of Scientology in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard; its struggles to find acceptance as a legally acknowledged religion; its extensive, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government; and its dramatic efforts to grow and exist after the death of Hubbard.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 4)

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond is about newlyweds Alice and Jake. Alice is a successful lawyer and Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. They receive a tempting wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, and they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known as The Pact. The Pact seems to have a simple goal, to keep marriages happy and intact, and their rules make sense. The rules are always answer the phone when your spouse calls; exchange thoughtful gifts monthly; plan a trip together once every three months and never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are fascinated by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their growing social circle of like-minded couples, until one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers discover that for followers of the The Pact, the membership is for life just like marriage, and The Pact will take any measures required to enforce that rule. Suddenly, Jake and Alice’s marriage becomes their worst nightmare. 

Underground by Haruki Murakami 

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 5)

Underground by Haruki Murakami is based on incident that took place on March 20, 1995. On that day five members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo unleashed sarin, a poison gas twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide on the Tokyo subway. A major urban transit system had become the target of a terrorist attack that killed 13 people and injured thousands. Haruki Murakami talked to the people who lived through the catastrophe, from a Subway Authority employee with survivor guilt, to a fashion salesperson with more hatred for the media than for the perpetrators, to a young cult member who intensely condemns the attack but has not quit Aum. Murakami attempts to discern the fundamental issues leading to the attack and why the attack happened.

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott 

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 6)

In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott is a memoir about the author’s experience growing up in the Exclusive Brethren, a fundamentalist, separatist Christian cult that shunned mainstream culture. Rebecca was born a fourth-generation Brethren in the early 1960s. She was raised in the Brighton branch of the Exclusive Brethren cult in England. Her family joined the group in the first half of the nineteenth century, and her father was a high-ranking minister. When Stott was a young child, she was always asking dangerous questions and so was her father who was also full of doubt about the group. In 1970, when a sex scandal broke the Exclusive Brethren, Stott’s father pulled the family out of the cult. In the Days of Rain, Rebecca Stott tries to make sense of her father’s role in the cult, recounts the inner workings of the cult and her bewildering freedom from it.

My Life In Orange by Tim Guest 

10 Interesting Books About Cults
10 Interesting Books About Cults (Book 7)

My Life in Orange is a compelling memoir by Tim Guest. When Guest was six years old, he was taken by his mother to a commune modeled on teachings of the infamous Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh aka Osho. The Bhagwan preached wide range of doctrines such as Eastern mysticism, chaotic therapy, and sexual freedom. At the commune Tim and his mother were given Sanskrit names, he was named Yogesh. They dressed entirely in orange, and were encouraged to surrender themselves into their new family. In the commune while his mother worked tirelessly for the cause, Tim lived an unhappy life of misguided neglect in various communes in England, Oregon, India, and Germany. In My Life in Orange, Tim Guest writes about his own sense of abandonment and the manipulations of Osho, whose Utopian empire crumbled amid allegations of mass poisonings, attempted murder, and tax evasion.

The Incendiaries by R.O Kwon

The Incendiaries by R.O Kwon
Cult Book (Book 8)

The Incendiaries is a debut by R.O Kwon. The story follows Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall, who meet at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is an attractive girl, who does not tell anyone that she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is an oddball scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college and waits tables to get by. As Will falls in love with Pheobe, she, ridden with guilt gets increasingly drawn to a religious group. It is a secretive extremist cult founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal.

He has a mysterious past that involves North Korea and Phoebe’s Korean American family. When the group bombs buildings in the name of faith, and kills five people, Phoebe suddenly disappears. Will becomes determined to find her, falling into obsession himself as he seeks answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she was responsible for the violent act. The Incendiaries by R.O Kwon is a story about love, loss, and faith taken to extremes.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Cult Book (Book 9)

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai is a heart-wrenching novel. The story switches between two perspectives: Chicago during the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s and Paris in the 2000s. In 1985, Yale Tishman is a development director for an art gallery in Chicago. As his career begins to flourish, the AIDS epidemic grows around him. His friends are dying one by one. After his friend Nico’s funeral, the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Then some thirty years later, Fiona is in searching for her estranged daughter who joined a cult. While Fiona stays with an old friend, who is a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself confronting the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai tales readers through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world.

Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs And Maia Szalavitz 

Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs And Maia Szalavitz
Cult Book (Book 10)

Lost Boy is a book by Maia Szalavitz and Brent Jeffs, who is former member of the FLDS and the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. In Lost Boys, Brent tells the brave story of himself and many other young men who have become “lost boys” when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or being expelled by the church. Brent experienced firsthand the power that church leaders wield. When the young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are completely unprepared. This results in many of them succumbing to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs. He lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In Lost Boys, Brent Jeffs reveals both the horrors and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound.

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