Reviews

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, by Amanda Montell

general_jinjur's review

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funny hopeful informative lighthearted fast-paced

4.0

ripthepage's review

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informative reflective medium-paced

4.0

mxyfrzn's review

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This book does a really good job of breaking down and explaining the language used by cult leaders and extremists to gather a following and sort of bring people in and keep them in. Scientology, Jim Jones, Heaven's Gate, etc. But also how that same language is used by people or groups or companies to get them to spend money, join an MLM, make serious life-changing choices. And I think Montell communicates really well that the solution to this is not to commit to being closed-minded and never join a group or chant, but to be aware of how language is used to try to control behavior. And to keep that in mind, so that you can seek out connection and spirituality and mysticism without being easy prey for people who just want to use you for their own power or monetary gain.

univalence's review

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adventurous informative inspiring medium-paced

5.0

Cultish is a fascinating look at all things, well, cultish. The author's own father grew up in a cult called Synanon, and her fascination with both the creepy aspects of cults as well as the humanity of people in cults stems from her father's stories. I learned about the most well known tragedies--Jonestown and Heaven's Gate--and how cult influence depends on language. The linguistic characteristics of cultish enterprises include thought-terminating cliches (e.g. "it is what it is") and us-versus-them dichotomy. The book also discusses things like multilevel marketing (pyramid) schemes, fitness "cults", and QAnon. I developed more empathy for people who end up in cults, and more awareness of how cultish language is used for good, for evil, and for profit.

kuryakinn's review

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dark funny informative medium-paced

4.5

this was So interesting, though I’m a little sad we didn’t get to hear her dad’s story. 

franceschung's review

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adventurous informative medium-paced

4.5

ashleysbookthoughts's review

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5.0

What a great read. Cultish was really informative and incredibly entertaining. It’s the perfect mix of academic and juicy. For a book of nonfiction focused primarily on linguistics, it was a hell of a page turner for me.

Amanda Montell does a great job of balancing research and interviews with experts on language, religion, and cults with stories from real people who have been involved in all manner of cultish endeavors ranging from Scientology and Heaven’s Gate to MLMs and Soul Cycle. Learning about the ways people use language to breed loyalty was fascinating.

sarahshereads's review

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funny informative lighthearted medium-paced

4.0

I was recommended cultish by a friend and independently found Amanda Montell’s podcast “Sounds like a Cult”. When I realised the book Amanda was talking about was Cultish I decided it was a must read. The podcast and book cover similar topics and are great companions. 

The book reads like an academic thesis which having read one too many writing my own I can appreciate the structure and skilled narrative. Often the topics were rehashes of stories I’ve heard before but as someone who is fascinated by cults and listens to a lot of podcasts about them to walk the same paths wasn’t unexpected. Montell’s narrative of the known was still interesting and made me think about my own cultish groups and thinking. 

carlyreadsalot's review

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informative lighthearted reflective fast-paced

4.75

valeria_gzz's review

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This isn’t peaking my interest enough to read out in the amount of time the library has given me and I have more books I want to read so for now I’m DNFing it and returning it to the library. I might come back to it but I should have known that since Carley recommended it, it wouldn’t be the type of book I would like. I love her content BUT I can acknowledge that we don’t have the same taste in books