We may not wish to be caught up in one ourselves, but cults can be endlessly compelling when it comes to reading material. From unbelievable journalistic endeavors to more personal memoirs offering narratives from behind the literal and figurative iron gates of these communities, a number of these stories have revealed the worst of our imaginations and beyond. Check out these titles for terror and hope in some of the most secretive groups history has seen.
Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults by Mitch Weiss
An investigative achievement detailing one woman-led cult, Broken Faith describes the rise and inner workings of Word of Faith Fellowship. Founded in 1979, Word of Faith Fellowship has grown into an international community, but Weiss reveals the dark underside of the group, including reports of desperate escape and a heavy examination of faith. Reviewers describe this story as “explosive,” “exhaustive,” and “terrifying” -- not one to miss for fans of deep dives into cult life and development.
Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult by Catherine Oxenberg
Taking on the secretive and horrifying workings of NXIVM, Catherine Oxenberg shares the story of her daughter’s involvement with the organization that considers itself a company but which others describe as a full-on cult. Lured in by the promise of sisterhood, India pushed her mother to the edge in working to restore the life her daughter once had. Join readers who describe the book as “fascinating” and one that something they “couldn’t put down” and read this memoir to find out India’s fate and what happened to NXIVM.
In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca Stott
Raised in the belly of the cult, Rebecca Stott shares stories from her time in the Exclusive Brethren cult. Starting as a child, Stott held onto many questions about her upbringing only to find that her father had questions of his own. Ultimately, Stott must find peace in the dichotomies of her experiences and recognize the gray area that was her childhood. Described as “well-written” and “infuriating,” In the Days of Rain is a compelling example of cults in nonfiction.
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn
On perhaps one of the best-known cults, The Road to Jonestown traces the story of the Peoples Temple from its origins to the last drops of Flavor Aid in Jonestown. Guinn plunges into the depths of the cult’s operation and downfall, referring to official investigative documents from the FBI alongside interviews with survivors. Noted as “comprehensive” and “unsettling,” The Road to Jonestown will draw you down a haunting path, denying the reality of the end even as you know it’s coming.
I Fired God: My Life Inside -- and Escape from -- the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult by Jocelyn Zichterman
A combined investigative and memoir piece, I Fired God brings readers into the world of the Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Jocelyn Zichterman reveals the corruption, abuse and other illegal activity rampant throughout the organization, demonstrating to readers how the reality-TV-famed Duggar family is just the surface. Reviewers call this one “damning” and “brave.”
Heaven’s Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult by Miriam Williams
A cult with, at one time, nearly 20,000 members, the Children of God organization captivated memoirist Miriam Williams with promises of redemption. Soon trapped in a world of forced prostitution, Williams is only able to leave and share her story when her son’s safety is in serious question. Marked as “outstanding” and with “incredible detail,” Heaven’s Harlots shows readers a lesser-known cult and the damage it rendered.