When I was a kid growing up in the greater Boston area, I always dreamed of becoming the kind of writer that could change the world, so when The Boston Globe 's Spotlight Team published their investigation on the abuse in the Catholic church in 2002, I became instantly obsessed with the story and the people behind it. When the story was brought back into the spotlight (yes, pun intended) with the 2015 film Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams, I couldn't wait to see how it would hold up on the big screen, and I wasn't disappointed. Now I hope Spotlight wins best picture at this year's Academy Awards.
If you've seen Spotlight, then you already know how incredible it is. The film is gritty and edge-of-your seat exciting, and the ensemble cast is outstanding. The story itself — sex abuse and corruption of the Catholic church that rocked the faith of an entire nation — is one that is hard to tell, and maybe even harder to watch, but in the end, it's an inspiring story that celebrates truth and proves that change can happen, as long as a few people are willing to fight for it.
With several important wins under its belt at the Critics Choice Awards and the SAG Awards, Spotlight's next trophy could be the biggest one yet: an Oscar for Best Picture. If you loved Spotlight and hope it wins an Oscar, here are 11 books you'll eat up.
1. Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church by The Investigative Staff of The Boston Globe
If you love Spotlight, then you must revisit the original investigative reporting on the scandal that rocked not only the Catholic church, but the entire world. Thoroughly researched, thoughtful, and insightful, Betrayal is the full collection of the Spotlight team's published work of their groundbreaking investigation, and some of the facts are so shocking, you have to read them to believe them.
2. Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion by Gary Webb
The team in Spotlight wasn't afraid to toe the line and ruffle feathers in order to uncover the truth, and neither was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb when he published is investigation on the relationship between the CIA and the crack cocaine epidemic that was sweeping the nation. His series revealed that the CIA was involved with funneling drug profits from drug rings in the Bay Area to Contras in Nicaragua, and although his story was eventually confirmed by investigations by the Justice Department and the CIA, Webb was ostracized for his work. His book, Dark Alliance, includes his original reporting, an even deeper analysis of the evidence, and Webb's own experience in becoming an outcast for telling a story the country needed to heat, but wasn't ready to accept.
3. All the President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
The story of one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history uncovered by two reporters, All the President's Men is Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein's account of finding out about and exposing Watergate. A shocking and exciting read, All the President's Men is perfect for Spotlight fans craving another story about how journalism can influence history.
4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Though it's fiction, not journalism, Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects will capture the attention of Spotlight fans with it's mesmerizing journalistic detective story. When a reporter is sent to her hometown to investigate the murder of young girls, she is thrown in the middle of the crimes instead of just writing about them. A dark and thrilling tale, Sharp Objects will give you an even bigger adrenaline rush than Spotlight once you finally find out the truth.
5. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
Jill Leovy has been covering crime in Los Angeles for years, and her experience has revealed one big ugly truth: No one pays attention to a ghettoside killing, where one young black man murders another. In her highly acclaimed book Ghettoside, Leovy uses the story of one young man's murder to explore the nature of killing in American cities while exposing the failures of the justice system for black citizens. Fans of Spotlight, this is a master work of literary journalism just for you.
6. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S.Thompson was a pioneer of Gonzo journalism, the kind of reporting where the writer is part of the story and tells is through first-person narration, and fans of Spotlight will love reading his work that toes the line between fact and fiction. Inspired by Hunter's experiences as a reporter in Puerto Rico, The Rum Diary is the fictional story of journalist Paul Kemp and the other reporters in San Juan in the 1950s. If you want to find out more about the outrageous and over the top lifestyle of journalists — OK, not all journalists, just ones like Thompson — The Rum Diaries is the way to do it.
7. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
Sexual assault and rape are some of the largest problems plaguing college campuses across America, but it's only talked in whispers — until now, that is. Jon Krakauer's Missoula uses the startling series of rapes that happened at the state university over a four-year period as a case study for the hundreds of other American campuses that are facing the same crisis. A brutally honest and essential read, Missoula is the kind of journalistic investigation that inspires not only empathy, but real action. Sptolight fans, you will be blown away.
8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
One of the most compelling aspects of Spotlight was the relentlessness of the investigative team to not only find the truth, but share it with the world so something could be done about the horrific crimes being covered up. Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo features a reporter who would give the Spotlight team a run for its money, and a story even juicier than the corruption of the Catholic church. Warning: This is not a book for the faint of heart, because it does get graphic.
9. True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel
Sometimes, the line between reporter and story get blurred. Such is the case with Michael Finkel, a New York Times reporter who was pulled into the twisted games of accused killer Christian Longo after the criminal tried to take Finkel's identity. A twisted story that is truly stranger than fiction, True Story is a serious page-turner.
10. The Fence: A Police Cover-up Along Boston's Racial Divide by Dick Lehr
Celebrated author and journalist Dick Lehr is known for his groundbreaking reporting on everything from Whitey Bulger and the FBI to the mafia, but it's his book about racism and violence in the Boston Police that will interest fans of Spotlight. The true story about a brutal attack of a black plainclothes officer by white policemen and the cover up that followed, The Fence is an eye-opening, gut wrenching read perfect for fans of true crime and investigative journalism.
11. Where the Bodies are Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him by T.J. English
No one thought Whitey Bulger would ever get caught, he was finally apprehended in 2011 after 16 years on the run. In Where the Bodies are Buried, author T. J. English, the master chronicler for the Irish Mob, provides an in-depth look into Bulger's life, crimes, time on the run, and his trial, as well as a thorough analysis of the criminal justice system and politics of the city of Boston. A riveting in-depth look at a criminal legend, Where the Bodies are Buried will expose a whole new angle to Bulger's well-documented story.
Image: Open Road Films