56 books like Raven

By Tim Reiterman,

Here are 56 books that Raven fans have personally recommended if you like Raven. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From my list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Judy Bebelaar Why did Judy love this book?

Layton escaped, at great risk, to try to prevent the tragedy of Jonestown. Her book is the best book yet to read to see Jonestown and Jim Jones through the eyes of a survivor. Layton entered Jonestown (as did most of Ron’s and my students) later than early settlers, when the situation was getting more and more dire as Jones was deteriorating. 

Twenty-four at the time, Layton accompanied her mother, who believed Jones could cure her cancer. As Charles Krause says in the foreword, “Debbie quickly realized that she and the others had been deliberately deceived: Jonestown was essentially a concentration camp in the jungle.” Layton had been in the church since she was a teen. Jones had immediately recognized her intelligence and energy, and eventually made her one of his inner circle. When she left, he declared her a traitor. The book is fascinating and well written.

By Deborah Layton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seductive Poison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this haunting and riveting firsthand account, a survivor of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple opens up the shadowy world of cults and shows how anyone can fall under their spell.

"A suspenseful tale of escape that reads like a satisfying thriller.... The most important personal testimony to emerge from the Jonestown tragedy." —Chicago Tribune

A high-level member of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple for seven years, Deborah Layton escaped his infamous commune in the Guyanese jungle, leaving behind her mother, her older brother, and many friends. She returned to the United States with warnings of impending disaster, but her pleas for…


Book cover of Beautiful Revolutionary

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From my list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Judy Bebelaar Why did Judy love this book?

Woollett’s novel is based on much research on Peoples Temple and Jonestown. She came to the US from Australia for interviews with many survivors and others—including Ron Cabral and me because of our knowledge of the teenagers in the Temple. It’s a great read and adds much to the understanding of those who joined the Temple. Evelyn Lyndon (all the characters have fictional names except Jim Jones) is the “Beautiful Revolutionary” who, with her idealistic husband, joins the Temple and eventually becomes one of Jones’s mistresses. I recognize many of the book’s characters, sometimes two people rolled into one. Only in a novel could Woollett be in the minds of the characters she follows in this story, who are all believable and vividly drawn.

By Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Laura Elizabeth Woollett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beautiful Revolutionary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The thrilling new novel, inspired by the events at Jonestown in the 1970s.

It's the summer of 1968, and Evelyn Lynden is a woman at war with herself. Minister's daughter. Atheist. Independent woman. Frustrated wife. Bitch with a bleeding heart.

Following her conscientious-objector husband Lenny to the rural Eden of Evergreen Valley, California, Evelyn wants to be happy with their new life. Yet she finds herself disillusioned with Lenny's passive ways - and anxious for a saviour. Enter the Reverend Jim Jones, the dynamic leader of a new revolutionary church ...

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Beautiful Revolutionary explores the…


Book cover of A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From my list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Judy Bebelaar Why did Judy love this book?

Julia Scheeres is the New York Times best-selling author of Jesus Land, a memoir about being sent, along with her adoptive brother, to a Christian reform camp in the Dominican Republic Their parents, conservative Christians sent them there when Julia and her brother were teenagers. The camp, Scheeres says, had “some uncanny parallels” with Jonestown. 

She begins the story with the story of Tommy Bogue’s “adventure.” Tommy “gripped the slick railing, bracing himself against the waves,” as Jonestown’s small boat headed across the Atlantic and up the coast to the Kaituma River, on his journey to the settlement. Tommy, like Layton, was soon disillusioned. Tommy was a brother of Marilee, Ron’s and my student, who like her mother, was a Jones loyalist. Tommy refused to follow the many strict rules in Jonestown, and broke them to go outside of its borders to follow his curiosity about the jungle and the…

By Julia Scheeres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thousand Lives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A gripping account of how decent people can be taken in by a charismatic and crazed tyrant” (The New York Times Book Review).

In 1954, a past or named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. As Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers leaned on each other to recapture the sense of equality that had drawn them to his church. But even as the…


Book cover of Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman Author Of Moon: Northern California

From my list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty.

Who am I?

My early memories of San Francisco in the late 1970s are anything but glamorous. We lived in a crummy apartment down the street from the People’s Temple, and my preschool, in the always gray Sunset, served carob, not chocolate. Despite decamping for the greener pastures and white sands of Carmel-By-The-Sea, I was forever hooked by the gritty magic of San Francisco. I eventually returned to the city’s foggy Richmond District, where now I ruminate on past adventures, plot new ones, and write about the place I love. I'm the author of Moon Napa Sonoma, Moon California, and Moon Northern California, and my work has appeared in 7x7, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Alaska Magazine

Elizabeth's book list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman Why did Elizabeth love this book?

The myths of San Francisco loom large in our cultural imagination, but as David Talbot writes in Season of the Witch, the truth is far more interesting, disturbing, grotesque, and beautiful than even the most cinematic retelling. Between 1967-1983, the city was the epicenter of several countercultures, and home to multiple serial killers, political assassinations, bombing attempts, kidnappings, drug and viral epidemics; all of which unfold in heart-stopping quick succession. You’ll watch situations shift from exuberant to deadly in a matter of years, months, or weeks. You’ll also see how small the city really is; familiar names popping up in seemingly unrelated places; events linked by surprising characters. Talbot’s one point of levity is the carnivalesque sideshow of Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan. That tells you something.

By David Talbot,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Season of the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed, San Francisco Chronicle bestseller—a gripping story of the strife and tragedy that led to San Francisco’s ultimate rebirth and triumph.

Salon founder David Talbot chronicles the cultural history of San Francisco and from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when figures such as Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin, Jim Jones, and Bill Walsh helped usher from backwater city to thriving metropolis.


Book cover of Children of Paradise

Liam Bell Author Of The Sleepless

From my list on communes and cults.

Who am I?

I don’t think I’m alone in considering cults and those who join cults fascinating, but I’ve also always found it frustrating when non-fiction accounts or documentaries focus on the logistics of how the communes operate rather than finding out the why. Why do people join a cult, why do they stay, why do they follow increasingly erratic and dangerous instruction? For me, researching cults for my new novel The Sleepless – about a commune whose disciples believe that sleep is a social construct – was about finding out about the characters, the individuals, who are drawn into organisations which often ask you to relinquish that self-same sense of individuality.

Liam's book list on communes and cults

Liam Bell Why did Liam love this book?

This novel reimagines the events of the Jonestown massacre with lushly beautiful prose and a magical realist twist that offers the possibility of escape and redemption from the most horrific circumstances.

It’s a wonderfully immersive story that sucks you in with sensory detail and a hope-against-hope that the main characters won’t “drink the Kool-Aid”. One of those books where you need to sit still and catch your breath after turning the last page…

By Fred D'Aguiar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Children of Paradise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed novelist, playwright, and poet Fred D’Aguiar has been short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize in poetry for Bill of Rights, his narrative poem about the Jonestown massacre, and won the Whitbread First Novel Award for The Longest Memory. In this beautifully imagined work of literary fiction, he returns to the territory of Jim Jones’s utopian commune, interweaving magical realism and shocking history into a resonant story of love, faith, oppression, and sacrifice in which a mother and daughter attempt to break free with the help of an extraordinary gorilla.

Joyce and her young daughter, Trina, are members of a…


Book cover of Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults

Richard Abanes Author Of One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

From my list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths.

Who am I?

As a young man, I wanted to do good. And I believed the best way to do that was to increase the commitment I’d made to my faith. So, I joined a church that appeared genuine. But much to my shock, not everything was as it seemed—I’d fallen into a cult. Deception, authoritarianism, and hypocrisy abounded. This led me on a decades-long search for answers: How could leaders do this? Why would members stay loyal? What could be done about it? I eventually found my answers and began doing what I’d always wanted to do—help others. I did it by becoming a journalist/author specializing in religion. 

Richard's book list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths

Richard Abanes Why did Richard love this book?

As someone who personally knows this author, I can say with absolute certainty that this is one of the best go-to books for anyone interested in cult structure and the dynamics of cult involvement. If you’ve ever been perplexed by how someone could possibly get involved in not just a religion-based cult, but also a politics-based cult, then this is the volume for you. It’s intriguing, as well as informative.  

By Steven Hassan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Combating Cult Mind Control as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults:
This 2018, 30th-anniversary edition honors the 40th anniversary of the tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. On November 18th, 1978, over 900 people including a U.S. congressman Leo Ryan died because of Cult Leader Jim Jones. Over 300 were children forced to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid by their parents who believed they were doing God’s will. The techniques of undue influence have evolved dramatically, and continue to do so. Today, a vast array of methods exist to deceive, manipulate, and indoctrinate people into closed systems of obedience…


Book cover of Stranger in a Strange Land

Jeffrey Jay Levin Author Of Watching: Volume 1, The Garden Museum Heist

From my list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

I’ve narrowed down my fascination with time travel to an event that occurred in my late teens. Hitchhiking in California with a friend, we accepted a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle. My friend and I silently acknowledged a strange energy from the driver. Serial killer energy. After a few miles, we told the driver to let us out, which, thankfully, he did. Over the years I’ve wished I could travel back in time to discover if he was in fact a serial killer.  If you read my novel, Watching, A Different Type of Time Travel, Volume 1: The Garden Museum Heist, you'll find aspects of my reading (sci-fi), movie (Hitchcock), and life experiences reflected in the story.

Jeffrey's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Jeffrey Jay Levin Why did Jeffrey love this book?

OK, this is an oldie by today’s standards. I read this when I was much younger (high school) and it’s just one of those books that stuck with me. Heinlein is a master of science fiction, and it shows in Stranger.

Between the 2nd and 3rd World Wars, an expedition was sent to Mars.  While on its way to the red planet, one Valentine Michael Smith was born. As the only survivor of the expedition, he was raised on Mars by Martians. Upon his eventual return to Earth, now post WWIII and run by politically powerful organized religions, and The World Federation of Free Nations, which includes the demilitarized US, and a world government supported by Special Service troops. 

As Smith shows special abilities and roams through the world, fear of the unknown and prejudice raise their ugly heads, forcing Smith to learn the ways of his new world…

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Stranger in a Strange Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The original uncut edition of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Hugo Award winner Robert A Heinlein - one of the most beloved, celebrated science-fiction novels of all time. Epic, ambitious and entertaining, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND caused controversy and uproar when it was first published and is still topical and challenging today.

Twenty-five years ago, the first manned mission to Mars was lost, and all hands presumed dead. But someone survived...

Born on the doomed spaceship and raised by the Martians who saved his life, Valentine Michael Smith has never seen a human being until the day a…


Book cover of Spin

Trevor Williams Author Of Eternal Shadow

From my list on first contact sci-fi but with a twist.

Who am I?

My parents always encouraged me to explore the world and express myself. I also grew up in a home where the bookshelves were lined with Stephen King novels, encyclopedias, and VHS tapes containing episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So it came as little surprise that my interests in astronomy, orbital mechanics, and fantastical technology concepts (who doesn't like the idea of a ringworld?) dominated my life. I also love history and the drive for exploring the endless possibilities behind the question "what if." Science fiction is, at its core, about exploring the human condition—this is where you’ll find my writing and the adventures I bring to you.

Trevor's book list on first contact sci-fi but with a twist

Trevor Williams Why did Trevor love this book?

A science fiction novel that has as much focus on fleshed-out character development as the science? Amazing. The plot of this fascinating novel, even more so. Imagine a world where all the stars you see in the night sky suddenly go out. How would you react when you learned the reason for this was a world-spanning barrier which is not only blocking out the starry night but is also vastly increasing the rate at which time passes beyond the barrier—to the point where the sun ages billions of years in a matter of decades.

From exploring the implications of this time-bending device to witnessing the world as it copes with this new reality, this is one story that—after reading it decades ago—still holds a fond place in my heart.

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Spin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After witnessing the onset of an astronomical event that has caused the sun to go black and the stars and moon to disappear, Tyler, Jason, and Diane learn that the darkness has been caused by a time-altering, alien-created artificial barrier and that the sun will be extinguished in less than forty years. Reprint.


Book cover of Kraken

Armand Rosamilia Author Of Keyport Cthulhu

From my list on tentacled horror.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading and writing horror for more than forty years and am prolific in both aspects. Show me a book with a tentacle and I’ll show you my newest purchase. 

Armand's book list on tentacled horror

Armand Rosamilia Why did Armand love this book?

Release the Kraken! While the tentacles might be more subtle on newer editions of this fine book, the title alone is enough to get it added to my list. This is a classic and the twists and turns in it are stupendous. What hooked me from the beginning was the characters and the story arc, although the plot, setting, and everything else make this a book you cannot miss. A must-read.

By China Miéville,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Kraken as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, Kraken is a darkly comic, wildly absurd adventure by author of Perdido Street Station, China Mieville.

Deep in the research wing of the Natural History Museum is a prize specimen, something that comes along much less often than once in a lifetime: a perfect, and perfectly preserved, giant squid. But what does it mean when the creature suddenly and impossibly disappears?

For curator Billy Harrow it's the start of a headlong pitch into a London of warring cults, surreal magic, apostates and assassins. It might just be that the creature…


Book cover of Mystic and Rider

Lena Nguyen Author Of We Have Always Been Here

From my list on sci-fi and fantasy books with unusual found families.

Who am I?

As a writer and independent game developer, I’ve always adored “families of choice:” motley crews of strangers drawn together by circumstance and whose bonds are strengthened to an indestructible degree by the trials they face together. This passion has manifested both in my favorite stories (The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect) as well as the ones I write myself! After teaching writing at Cornell University, where I also earned my MFA in Fiction, I turned my sights on my own creative projects, all of which invariably feature weird found families (a robot crew and the human misfits accompanying them; two assassins and an escaped mind-reading slave; et cetera). 

Lena's book list on sci-fi and fantasy books with unusual found families

Lena Nguyen Why did Lena love this book?

I absolutely love Sharon Shinn’s writing, both her luscious, sophisticated prose and the way she writes relationships between characters. She hits the perfect balance between well-planned, interesting plots, rich fantasy worlds, and the exact right amount of romantic subplot and character development.

This bookwhich follows a group of magic-wielding mystics and the reluctant, militaristic King’s Riders assigned to protect them as they travel the land, investigating a rise in anti-magic sentimentis my favorite of her books, not least because it has some of the coziest found family dynamics and campfire friendships to be found outside of classics like The Lord of the Rings!

By Sharon Shinn,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mystic and Rider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such mystics are to be tolerated. It is whispered that he issued the decree because his new wife used her magic powers to ensnare him…

The King knows there are those in the noble Twelve Houses who could use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic Senneth to assess the threat throughout the realm. Accompanying her is a motley band of magic-users and warriors including Tayse, first among the King’s Riders—who…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cults, the Peoples Temple, and murder?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cults, the Peoples Temple, and murder.

Cults Explore 53 books about cults
The Peoples Temple Explore 5 books about the Peoples Temple
Murder Explore 891 books about murder