Solid green back ground with neon green text reading "Cult Classics."

Cult Classics

How do those with visions of a utopian society fall prey to corruption time and time again? Why do people follow them? There may be answers in the titles below. If you have been enjoying Escaping Twin Flames, Sounds Like a Cult, or Wild Wild Country, here is the next level of cult infamy. Fans of true crime, pop-psychology, and self-proclaimed gawkers should take note.

289.9 SCH          

A thousand lives : the untold story of hope, deception, and survival at Jonestown / Julia Scheeres            

What started as a Utopian dream soon devolved into a terrifying work camp run by a madman, ending in the mass murder-suicide of 914 members in November 1978.

299.93 COO

Waco rising : David Koresh, the FBI, and the birth of America’s modern militias / Kevin Cook

A news-making account of the war between David Koresh’s Branch Davidians and the FBI, and how their standoff launched today’s militias. Also available as an eaudiobook on hoopla.

291 LEW

Cults in America : a reference handbook / James R. Lewis

Reference book of cults in America. 

361.43 NAT       

The program : inside the mind of Keith Raniere and the rise and fall of NXIVM / Toni Natalie

The Program begins with the origin story of NXVIM, follows it rise to international prominence, and takes the reader into the downfall of Raniere through Toni’s eyes. During this time, she bore witness to the evolution of his methods, including his use of sex, blackmail, and employment of psychological tools such as neuro-linguistic programming to control and punish those who would not heed his wishes.

364.15 CUT

Cults : inside the world’s most notorious groups and understanding the people who joined them / Max Cutler

Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside them? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of cult leaders and the people who join them? Based on the hit podcast Cults, this is essential reading for any true crime fan.

976.4284 GUI

Waco : David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a legacy of rage / Jeff Guinn

The definitive account of the disastrous siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. For the first time in thirty years, more than a dozen former ATF agents who participated in the initial February 28, 1993, raid speak on the record about the poor decisions of their commanders that led to this deadly confrontation. Revelations in this book include why the FBI chose to end the siege with the use of CS gas; how both ATF and FBI officials tried and failed to cover up their agencies’ mistakes; where David Koresh plagiarized his infamous prophecies; and direct links between the Branch Davidian tragedy and the modern militia movement in America.


Cultish : the language of fanaticism / Amanda Montell

In this thought-provoking-yet-accessible read, linguist Amanda Montell weaves together personal anecdotes, survivor interviews and academic research to walk us through the loaded language of cults. The book explores the influence of “cultish” groups from Scientology to SoulCycle, examining how they use language to their advantage and why so many of us find them fascinating. Also available as ebooks and eaudiobooks on both Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.


Hollywood Park : a memoir/ Mikel Jollett

His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic. Also available as an  eaudiobook on Overdrive/Libby.

BIO JONES          

Sex cult nun : breaking away from the Children of God, a wild, radical religious cult / Faith Jones

Faith Jones was raised to be part a religious army preparing for the End Times. Growing up on an isolated farm in Macau, she prayed for hours every day and read letters of prophecy written by her grandfather, the founder of the Children of God. A complicated family story mixed with a hauntingly intimate coming-of-age narrative, Faith Jones’ extraordinary memoir reflects our societal norms of oppression and abuse while providing a unique lens to explore spiritual manipulation and our rights in our bodies.


Manson : the life and times of Charles Manson / Jeff Guinn         

Based on new interviews, this revealing account of one of the most notorious criminals in American history puts Manson in the context of his times, the turbulent end of the 60s, revealing a rock star wannabe whose killings were directly related to his musical ambitions.

BIO MESTYANEK              

Uncultured : a memoir / Daniella Mestyanek Young with Brandi Larsen

Behind the tall, foreboding gates of a commune in Brazil, Daniella Mestyanek Young was raised in the religious cult The Children of God, also known as The Family, as the daughter of high-ranking members. Beholden to The Family’s strict rules, Daniella suffers physical, emotional, and sexual abuse-masked as godly discipline and divine love-and is forbidden from getting a traditional education. At fifteen years old, fed up with The Family and determined to build a better and freer life for herself, Daniella escapes to Texas.

January, 2024 : AI