Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Cult Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is books that feature characters _______. I’m filling in the blank with “who are in cults.” I’m going to use the word “characters” loosely because some of these books are nonfiction.

Cult Characters


Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood And Scientology – Leah Remini

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost. 
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

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

At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.

Adult Fiction

The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) – Margaret Atwood

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk

Tender Branson, the last surviving member of the so-called Creedish Death Cult, is dictating his life story into the flight recorder of Flight 2039, cruising on autopilot at 39,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child and humble domestic servant to an ultra-buffed, steroid-and-collagen-packed media messiah.

The Girls – Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Young Adult Books

Burned – Ellen Hopkins

It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious—yet abusive—family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.  
This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers—about God, a woman's role, sex, love—mostly love. What is it? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?  
It's with a real boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. After Pattyn's father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn't know.  
Pattyn is supposed to find salvation and redemption during her exile to the wilds of rural Nevada. Yet what she finds instead is love and acceptance. And for the first time she feels worthy of both—until she realizes her old demons will not let her go. Pattyn begins down a path that will lead her to a hell—a hell that may not be the one she learned about in sacrament meetings, but it is hell all the same.

The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. 
And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. 
Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Brides of Eden: A True Story Imagined – Linda Crew

When, in 1903, the fiery preacher Joshua arrives in sleepy Corvallis, Oregon, Eva Mae—and the whole town—is never the same again. 
Joshua is wonderful. He's charismatic. Insisting on simplicity, he commands his converts to burn their possessions. Demanding devotion to Christ, he tells them to abandon their personal ties. 
But there's a surge of violence rising, and before it's over, families will be ripped apart and lives will be destroyed. Eva Mae's gripping true story is a stranger-than-fiction tale of a turn-of-the-century apocalyptic cult.

Middlegrade Fiction

The Patron Saint of Butterflies – Cecilia Galante

Agnes and Honey have been best friends for as long as they can remember. But everything is about to change, from their friendship to the only home they’ve ever known: a religious commune called Mount Blessing. Agnes loves being a believer and following the rules of the commune, but Honey has started to rebel. Then, when Agnes and Honey experience the outside world (on the run, no less), their friendship is tested further. After all, when everything you’ve ever known turns out to be a lie, how do you find the truth?

The Chosen One – Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. 
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Have you read any of these? Do you have any books to add to my list?


  1. Loved Troublemaker. I recently for The Sacred Lies and am excited to get to it. Great list!

  2. Wow I would have never thought to do this topic, I LOVE it!
    I feel like this is a great time to read books on this subject.
    I want to read Trouble Maker. I have watched her show, actually marathoned it is more accurate.
    Love this!
    Ashley @ Books To The Tea
    Here's my TTT: http://bookstothetea.blogspot.com/2017/09/top-ten-bookscharacters-that-inspire-me.html

  3. Haha when I read the title of your blog I thought you meant cult characters-- as in cult classics or something! This was an interesting spin on the prompt. I've never read any books where the characters are in a cult, but these looked good! I might give Troublemaker a go-- I rarely read autobiographies/biographies but that sounds really interesting!
    My TTT

  4. Interesting topic! I might check out Trouble Maker since I've seen King of Queens and I've been wondering what has happened with Carrie's actress!

    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  5. LOVE Under the Banner of Heaven. And Remini's book was super great on audio!

  6. Oh, you had me at cults! How have I only read ONE of these!? I am so fascinated by cults. Like I cannot even decide which one I need to read the most desperately haha. I loved Minnow Bly, though I was hoping for more cult? I read Once in a Town Called Moth, but again, I needed more cult. LOOOOVE your choice of list this week, I have a lot of looking up on Goodreads to do!

  7. Troublemaker looks interesting, I don't know much about scientology but what I do know seems so weird? And the Sacred Lies of Minnie Bly sounds like a good read.

  8. I don't read a lot of cult books, so this was a very interesting list for me. One that came to mind is Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, and Mathieu is always a hit for me.

  9. oh I loved The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. IT'S AMAZING and kind of terrifying. :O I kind of tend to avoid cult books though, because I find the brainwashing so hard to understand. Buuut there are some really good ones that've sucked me in. I love your list!

  10. Hi! The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly looks good. I can see others liked it! Great list :)
    My TTT

  11. I think I read at least part of The Chosen One at some point as I do recognise the book blurb. I don't remember if I finished it or much about it though!