15 Creepy New Nonfiction Books To Keep You Up At Night
With Bird Box and Bandersnatch captivating audiences all over, everyone is looking for the next spooky thing. I've got 15 creepy new nonfiction books to keep you up at night, once Netflix's new horror movies have lost their scares for you.
Between My Favorite Murder and Lore, Making a Murderer and Serial, we've hit a true-crime boom. What's more, we're all clamoring for scares, whether they're based in fact or in fiction. Scary movies and creepy cryptid podcasts have taken over our airwaves, and the resultant horror boom — Yes, another boom! — keeps churning out more and more visceral frights.
Whether you love true crime, microhistories, or works of pop science, there's something on this list that will interest you. What creeps one person out might not faze another, so don't expect every book on this list to thrill or chill you. But no matter if your biggest fear is solitude, creepy-crawly insects, or being the victim of a serious crime, at least one of the 15 books below will keep you up at night.
Check out my recommendations for creepy new works of nonfiction that will definitely give you nightmares:
'The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World' by Sarah Weinman
In 1948, a man claiming to be an F.B.I. agent kidnapped 11-year-old Sally Horner after he caught her stealing a notebook from a local store. She would not return home for nearly two years. Her story inspired Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, which was published a decade after she disappeared. Now, Sarah Weinman has told Horner's true story in The Real Lolita.
'Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets and Honey Bees, the Natural History of Where We Live' by Rob Dunn
If you're an insectophobe looking for a thrill, you'll love Rob Dunn's Never Home Alone, which details the thousands of species of insects and microbes that live in and around your home.
'Fascism: A Warning' by Madeleine Albright
This No. 1 New York Times Bestseller from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright draws comparisons between early 20th century fascisms in Europe and similar movements and political ideologies in the U.S. today.
'The World of Lore: Dreadful Places' by Aaron Mahnke
From haunted houses to real-life mysteries, Aaron Mahnke tackles the creepiest locales in The World of Lore: Dreadful Places, the third book in the series based on his hit podcast, Lore.
'American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment' by Shane Bauer
In 2014, investigative journalist Shane Bauer took a job making $9 an hour as a guard at a private prison. Combining his observations in that position with the history of U.S. prisons, Bauer's American Prison contains revelations that will disturb even the most hardened reader.
'Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine And Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, And Sick' by Maya Dusenbery
From Feministing.com editor Maya Dusenbery comes this terrifying book about the medical establishment's reluctance to listen to and trust women who seek help for their health.
'Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving American Obsession' by Alice Bolin
Examining the many tropes surrounding women's deaths in fiction across the ages, Alice Bolin's Dead Girls reveals the unsettling nature of Western society's relationship to gender-based violence.
'The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine' by Thomas Morris
If the words "exploding teeth" didn't set your own teeth on edge, one of the other stories in this collection — such as the tale of an 18th-century man who removed his own bladder stone — will.
'The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir' by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
When, as a staunchly anti-death penalty law student, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich reviewed a case so heinous it made her wish for the accused's death, it sparked a deeper investigation, not only into the murder case, but into the life of the murderer himself.
'Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present' by Peter Vronsky
Before the term "serial killer" entered the English language in 1981, the people it has been used to describe — those who kill many people over lengthy periods of time — existed. In Sons of Cain, Peter Vronsky investigates cases of serial murderers throughout history, and examines society's relationship to them and their crimes.
'The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster' by Sarah Krasnostein
If you've ever wondered who cleans up crime scenes and what they find, you'll love this creepy nonfiction title about the founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning (STC) Services Pty. Ltd., which cleans up after murders, suicides, and other not-so-clean deaths.
'The White Darkness' by David Grann
The story of Henry Worsley, a 55-year-old Briton who set out to cross Antarctica alone, fills this exciting — and frightening — work of nonfiction from Killers of the Flower Moon author David Grann.
'The Only Girl in the World' by Maude Julien
If you thought being "not like other girls" was a problem, you're going to cringe at this memoir, which recounts the author's horrifically abusive childhood, full of regimes designed to turn her into a superhuman being.
'Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York' by Stacy Horn
In the 19th century, Blackwell's Island — what is today called Roosevelt Island — housed a confinement system comprised of an asylum, prisons, and hospitals designed to separate the "mad" from the "sane." Stacy Horn's Damnation Island is the first dedicated, in-depth accounting of what transpired there.
'The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder' by Nikki Meredith
Years after they participated in the Tate murders, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel became the journalistic subjects of writer Nikki Meredith. Meredith recounts her odd relationships with these two women in The Manson Women and Me.