A review by spaghettireads
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, by Amanda Montell

informative reflective medium-paced


After enjoying Wordslut by Amanda Montell earlier this year, I knew I wanted to pick up Cultish. I thought her writing style was engaging in Wordslut, and I thought that it would be even better on a topic that I felt like I knew less about.

I have definitely previously described groups and things as being cult-like. I really appreciated the discussion in this book about what are the characteristics of a cult and how it all connects back to language. This helped me separate out what is actually cultish, and what is not. Previously I think I was describing groups that just had a strong sense of community as being cult-like, when they didn’t have the power dynamics that are so key to cults.

I enjoyed the second half of the book the most, where not typical cultish groups are examined. MLMs, exercise groups, and social media influencers were the most interesting to me. I don’t think I have the same fascination about cults that some people do, so the first part of the book discussing more well known cults of the past wasn’t as interesting to me, but important for building an understanding of the key features of a cult.

I would definitely recommend picking it up! I mostly read the audio version, which I found very engaging.

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