Truth is stranger than fiction. It can also be more frightening. It’s one thing to read a spooky ghost story and imagine all sorts of creepy things. It’s another to look at the darker sides of real life. Still, even dark tales can captivate, educate and offer hope for better things.
1. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
It’s hard to believe this book isn’t actually a work of fiction. The story follows two men, Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the construction of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer posing as a doctor. These two worlds mix together tell a thrilling tale.
2. The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson
Marilyn Johnson dives into the world of obituaries and explores how we talk about the dead, how these stories impact us and who writes and reads them. The book also features excerpts for a variety of real obituaries.
3. Ghost Hunters by Deborah Blum
At the close of the nineteenth century, William James, a philosopher and a founder of the American Psychological Association announced he believed in ghosts. Deborah Blum’s book explores the evidence James cited and looks closely at his research into the things that simply could not be explained.
4. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
When death comes to a Savannah Mansion, it’s uncertain whether the shooting was murder or self defense. Playing out more like a novel than a nonfiction account, the story chronicles the case and the lives of those around it.
5. Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck by Eric G. Wilson
We are fascinated with darkness. Morbid curiosity often gets the best of us, and Eric G. Wilson explores why that is. If you’re wondering why you’re reading this list or any of the books on it, this book might just answer that question.
6. Aftermath, Inc. by Gil Reavill
True crime writer, Gil Reavill, had confronted plenty of gruesome details in his life, but none so gruesome as the work of an bioremediation company, Aftermath, Inc. Reavill explores the world of cleaning up after crimes, how those doing it handle the horrors and just what it does to them.
What is the most terrifying true tale you’ve ever read?