OPINION: My true crime quarantine book list


Mariah Koeneke

Some book recommendations for your true crime obsessed self. Graphic by Mariah Koeneke.

During quarantine, you may find yourself scrambling for entertainment. Not only do I have a solution, but it is beyond entertaining. My book list pulls from multiple facets of the true crime genre, so everyone can have a little something good. Not many people still read actual books, but don’t worry! All of the recommendations are available as e-books or audiobooks as well.

Since the mid-2010’s, the true crime boom has been growing and growing with no sign of stopping. Those who enjoy this taboo genre tend to find it calming to fall asleep to Forensic Files, Snapped or a lovely podcast describing a horrific murder. I am one of those people. Gore, murder, crime and mystery excite and entice me. If you are the same, these books will feed your brain in the best way. Also, why not cozy up to a new true crime read during the spookiest of seasons?

Growing up, we had A.R. in school, which stood for advanced reading. There would be plenty of prizes and pizza parties for those who read the most. If I could get a free pizza party for how much I read during quarantine and am continuing to do through social distancing, I would be the happiest person. I read multiple books, but a few are bigger than normal and took about a week to get through without bingeing the whole book at the speed of light. The key was to make the books last through the long, seemingly never-ending weeks of quarantine until I got back to work in June.

The first book I finished over quarantine is, I’ll Be Gone in The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. This book will hit you right in all the true crime feels. Not only is McNamara an outstanding writer, but her search efforts were nothing short of intense. Three decades after the Golden State Killer stopped killing, McNamara began her obsessive search. Late night after late night, she would find clues to who the monster was. Sadly, she passed suddenly while writing this book. It is finished by her husband, Patton Oswalt with an update on the arrest of the Golden State Killer. This book is moving, heart-wrenching, detailed and truly obsessive.

Next we have, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, M.D., and T.J. Mitchell. This book is not for the light-hearted. Melinek and her husband, Mitchell, go into detail about the process of being a medical examiner in New York City before and during the chaos what ensued during 9/11. The book sheds some light on what we didn’t know about deaths on 9/11—aspects that only the medical examiners would know. This book is not only haunting, but it is incredibly insightful. It allows readers to have a small peek into the world of a medical examiner during 9/11, something that has not been so public before.

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is a dual memoir by the creators if the popular podcast, My Favorite Murder. Kilgariff and Hardstark are aged ten years apart, respectively 50 and 40, but had similar experiences growing up in California. Both comedic women share a love for true crime and encouraging others to go to therapy. Not only did these intelligent women make me laugh, cry and gasp while reading, but they gave insightful input on the true crime boom we are in right now. When everything seems so sad and dark from true crime, these ladies add some light and laughter to pull you out.

Lastly, we have my newest read, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill with Dan Piepenbring. This book is for those of you who know the sixties were beyond messed up after WWII and the Great Depression. With Charles Manson in full effect in the sixties, it was an even stranger time period. While O’Neill was reporting on the Manson Family Murders in 1969, he unearthed new evidence that would change everything. This shocking book will not only open your eyes to the ‘truth’ behind the murders in 1969, but it will also pull you in with O’Neill’s other stunning discoveries from the sixties that will change everything you thought you knew happened.

These books are not for the faint-hearted, especially during spooky season. If you can handle it, pick out a new book from the above recommendations and live your best true crime-obsessed, spooky-ooky life!