Nonfiction November: New to My TBR

Back in week 3 of Nonfiction November I talked about how I wanted to gain more knowledge about cults and radical religions. This week Rennie from What’s Nonfiction asks about all the new Nonfiction books we added to our TBR’s this month. Oh boy did I add a ton in regards to my goal, and I’m so happy to talk about some of them here!

To make it a bit easier I grouped the books into topics and talked about each group of books together. I also want to thank everyone who suggested books on my week 3 post. I’m very grateful!


I think it’s wise that before I dive into the details of specific cults, I need a more general overview. The True Believer is an older book (1950), but I think after WWII many people were trying to process what had happened. Nazism might have technically been  a political movement, but the roots are the same, the cult of the personality. Also, the reviewers of the book have found the content relevant to the current climate, which isn’t surprising.

While The True Believer concentrates on the secular, Not in God’s Name focuses on how religions foster violence. Why is violence so prevalent in some religions, and can they offer up a solution to a massive problem?

Zealot is pretty much an encyclopedia on cults and gives basic info on some of the major cults around the world (I hope it’s international, I saw a cult from Australia!) 

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence – Jonathan Sacks

Zealot: A book about cults – Jo Thornly 

Singular Examples

I’m excited to read all three of these books. Other than evangelical Christianity I think the religion I know the most about is Mormonism and the FLDS (think compounds and sister-wives). I have extended family that are Mormon so I’ve been fascinated with this American-born religion from a young age. Under the Banner of Heaven is also high on my TBR because I loved and was completely emotionally destroyed by his later work, Missoula

The other two books are about events that I don’t know much about, especially Jonestown. The name is well-known, along with the phrase ‘don’t drink the Kool-aid’, but I actually don’t know much about what happened.

I’m a huge fan of Murakami so when I found out he wrote a Nonfiction book about a Japanese terrorist attack my interest was peaked. I was shocked to find out that behind the attack was a religious cult and I need to know what happened.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith – Jon Krakauer

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple – Jeff Guinn

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche – Haruki Murakami


Over the past ten years I’ve piecemealed together what Scientology believes and some of the major accusations against it. Since Scientology was birthed here in the United States I feel like I need a better understanding of the situation.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief – Lawrence Wright

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology – Leah Remini

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape – Jenna Miscavige Hill


Usually when I read Nonfiction my go-tos are memoirs, so I definitely ran across a few in my research that sparked my interest. The one I’m most excited for is Once You Go In which is about the Assemblies of God (AG). I went to AG youth conferences for a few summers in a row and then went to an AG university. I’m pretty sure I can relate to Gelsinger’s experiences…

Once You Go In: A Memoir of Radical Faith – Carly Gelsinger

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir – Ruth Wariner

Educated – Tara Westover

9 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: New to My TBR

  1. I also love reading about cults and radical religions, so I’m glad you found so many good titles on them! Zealot is also a podcast that Jo Thornely hosts, it’s worth a listen. It’s really funny.

    I can second the recommendations for Going Clear and The Sound of Gravel, those two are in my all-time favorites. I also really liked Under the Banner of Heaven and The Road to Jonestown. The True Believer also sounds really interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read A Thousand Lives this month about the cult of Jim Jones. It seems unreal how people followed him despite all the atrocities, but he was so convincing and charismatic. Of course it was horrible, horrible in its outcome. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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