Member Spotlight
Book Reviews

Live Q+A with Amanda Montell of Cultish | Book #99 | July 2023

July 31, 2023

“The twenty-first century has produced a climate of sociopolitical unrest and mistrust of long-established institutions like church, government, Big Pharma and big business. It’s the perfect societal recipe for making new and unconventional groups - everything from Reddit incels to woo-woo wellness influencers - who promise to provide answers that the conventional ones couldn’t supply seem freshly appealing. Add the development of social media and declining marriage rates, and culture-wide feelings of isolation are at an all-time high. Civic engagement is at a record-breaking low. In 2019, Forbes labeled loneliness an ‘epidemic’.“

-  p.21, Amanda Montell, Cultish

We didn’t realise how timely this theme was, not until we started diving into Cultish. But first let’s see how we got to RBC’s book #99.

The three books in the vote:

Book #1: The Community: A Memoir, by N. Jamiyla Chisholm | Published by Little A, 2022

Step into the enthralling world of "The Community," a thought-provoking memoir that explores the author's personal journey in search of identity and belonging. Chisholm vividly recounts her experiences within a little-known spiritual group, uncovering the intricacies of belief, manipulation, and personal growth. Prepare to be captivated by a story that delves deep into the complexities of human connections and the quest for meaning.

Why we chose it: “In this compelling debut memoir, journalist N. Jamiyla Chisholm relates the story of her childhood spent in a Muslim cult, the trauma caused and the relationship with her mother that would take years to heal.” - Ms. Magazine

Book #2: In The Days of Rain, by Rebecca Stott | Published by Fourth Estate, 2017

Experience a poignant memoir that delves into the author's upbringing in the Exclusive Brethren, a strict Christian sect. Stott bravely shares her personal story, highlighting the isolation, fear, and indoctrination she and her family endured. Reflect on the complexities of family loyalty, faith, and the journey to break free from the clutches of a controlling community.

Why we chose it: “Stott deploys her multiplicity of skills to good effect: as a historian, she delves into newspaper clippings, tape recordings, archive materials, a host of memoirs and books on doctrine, theology and the Exclusive Brethren. As a novelist, she makes the tale dramatic … As an essayist, Stott weaves ideas together with ease and economy” - Guardian

Book #3: Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, by Amanda Montell | Published by HarperWave, 2023

Uncover the hidden techniques behind cult-like behavior and influence in this eye-opening exploration. Montell delves into the depths of our fascination with groups, trends, and charismatic leaders, revealing how these dynamics shape our lives, language, and consumer culture. Prepare for a riveting journey through the psychology of influence and the power dynamics at play in our society.

Why we chose it: “A rigorous and fascinating examination of the power of language to spellbind us all. Montell’s command over cultish language makes her as mesmerizing and charismatic as the gurus she dissects.” - Molly Ringwald, actress and author of When It Happens to You

July’s vote result:

🥇 67% of votes - Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

🥈 18% of votes -  In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, A Father, A Cult

🥉 15% of votes - The Community: A Memoir

Q&A with Amanda Montell at July’s Global, Digital Event

Members from around the world joined our conversation with Amanda Montell, the Cultish author + Sounds Like a Cult podcaster. Here are some of the questions she answered:

Are cults a part of our modern human condition?

What's the line between a healthy sense of unity + Cults?

What are the likely cults of the future?

What were the surprises that came from writing Cultish? 

What would you like us to take from 'Cultish'?

Listen to the whole conversation on our YouTube channel.

In-person events in London, Bristol + Oxford

Over 150 members joined us across 3 cities in the UK, to discuss Cultish + to make up and attract followers to their own “cult”. 

Thank you

Venue: Greencoat House

Drinks: El Rayo Tequila  & Lemonaid

Snacks: Emily Snacks

Coming up in August: RBC Book #100

In August we’re diving into the transformative power of video games with their ability to ignite imagination, teach valuable life lessons, and unlock mysteries of the human mind...

Join our club!

If you’re not an RBC member yet


No items found.