“What have you been reading lately?”

Well, I just finished In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson, which while I was reading referred to it as My Nazi Book, as in, “I’m going on break, I’ll be reading My Nazi Book if anyone needs me.” This inspired me to read a book called Dead Funny, which I’m slogging through now, about jokes and humor during Hitler’s Third Reich. And I’ve also started a book called Death in the City of Light which is a nonfiction about a serial killer in Nazi Occupied Paris.

Add to this stack Helter Skelter which I’ve put off reading for many years. It was pointed out to me yet again that how can I really be a fan of the True Crime genre if I’ve not yet read Helter Skelter? I see everyone’s point on this as I know there are certain “classics”* among the genre, it’s just that every five years there’s a new Manson Family anniversary complete with rehashing and documentaries, so reading the book seems redundant, but oh well, I’m reading it now.

I’m not proud of my love for true crime books; it’s morbid. But I do know I’m not the only one. It’s a popular genre, right? RIGHT? heh. A friend, who recently found out that I really dig these books (I don’t talk about my True Crime love very often), asked if I liked the books because I wanted to understand a serial killer’s mind.

“No,” I responded immediately. Because here’s the thing, the serial killers and they’re minds? Mostly all the same. They have a complete disregard for everyone but themselves and little to no impulse control. I think most of us read the genre to find out how it happens, maybe not how a killer is made, but how they are able to do it for however long they do it, was there a way to prevent it or catch the killer sooner, that kind of thing. I think also, deep down, because I’m a woman, maybe I read it so I won’t be a victim? Not that I go around thinking that I’m going to be the victim of murder, I mean, really, what are the odds of that? But I imagine that anyone who reads the genre often thinks, “What would I have done in that situation?”

Another True Crime Confession: I really only like books about serial killers or mass murderers. I’m not a fan of crimes of passion or the ones where moms kill their families. Those aren’t in my wheelhouse. But you give me a serial killer or a classic case like the Black Dahlia, and I’m in. Kidnappings, maybe? If it involves a cult, yes. If it involves Rev. Jim Jones? Double yes.

Look, I’m not proud. Don’t judge me. I grew up with Robert Stack telling me about Unsolved Mysteries. Every Wednesday night he begged me and the rest of America to call the tip line. I’m just doing my part. RIGHT?


*In Cold Blood, The Executioner’s Song, Helter Skelter, and I guess The Stranger Beside Me? Which I’ll admit, I haven’t read the whole thing. Fine, I’ll get on it. Just let me finish my Third Reich summer first.

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