Out of this world stories, situations that seem implausible, and characters so vivid and brilliant that they simply could not be real, life, as they say, is often “stranger than fiction.” From college students making thousands of dollars in Vegas to the intricacies of a troubled mind, here are four unmissable books based on real-life events you have got to read.
Ben Mezrich has the unique quality of finding and writing about incredibly engaging real-life stories. Among his most widely read books is The Accidental Billionaires, a look at the rise of Mark Zuckerberg, later adapted into the award-winning film The Social Network. Bringing Down the House is one of his early works and definitely his best. The book is about six MIT students in the 1990s who go about counting cards in blackjack to make millions at Vegas casinos. The novel reads like a fast-paced thriller, packed with interesting personalities, thrilling action, and a few controversial moments that have been contested by a few. Fact or fiction, it is the brilliance of the act and the extravagant life of the students, capturing the imagination of the readers, that makes Bringing Down the House an essential read.
Whether you like it or not, humans hold a particular fascination with serial killers. Sometimes glamorised, and often commercialised, Ted Bundy continues to be one of the most talked-about killers in American history. While all these years the focus has predominantly been on the Bundy, The Phantom Prince gives readers a different and more engrossing outlook on the killer, through the words of Elizabeth Kendall, who spent six years living with Bundy. Initially published in 1981, Kendall shares a disturbing tale of betrayal and hidden darkness, but also showcases a more human side to Bundy that helps decipher the charming ways with which he picked his victims. A reprint of the book features new photos and a chapter by Molly Kendall, daughter of Elizabeth, for whom Bundy was a father-figure while her mother dated him. A complex character drama, where Elizabeth is brutally honest about her love for Bundy, The Phantom Prince is a captivating glimpse at how ordinary evil can sometimes be.
The genuinely unbelievable memoir of Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is not just her life story, but a tale of trickery, music, and a reflection of the American psyche post 9/11. A small-town girl living and studying in New York, Hindman, through a well-thought narrative, full of amusing moments, tells us about the time she was a violinist in an orchestra that toured the country performing at various small and big venues. The only catch was that instead of actually playing, the band would use dead mics. The music would come from a CD player in the background wired to the speakers. Even more compelling is Hindman’s revelation that the audience could never tell the difference. Sounds Like Titanic is an excellent read, not just because of the incredible story, but because Hindman goes a step further and talks about the student debts crises in the country, a reason why she continued to be a part of this orchestra for years. There’s also a psychological element to her memoir where she talks about the audience and why they were content with the fake sounds. A mesmerising real-life tale that gives you a whole lot more than expected, Sounds Like Titanic will amaze you aplenty.
As one of the earliest documented examples of Multiple Personality Disorder, The Three Faces of Eve has received much fame over the years. A case study of Eve and her personalities, when first published, was nothing short of a fictional story, only it was real. Written by the two psychiatrists who treated Ms Sizemore (Eve), the book explores the root of the problem that led to Eve’s multiple personalities and their characteristics. It further highlights the attempts made by the psychiatrists to bring Eve’s personalities together so that she could function somewhat normally. The Three Faces of Eve was later made into a film of the same name starring Joanne Woodward. To date, the case of Eve White remains an absorbing investigation of the human mind in its most complicated state. For a complete picture, pick up I’m Eve, a book by Ms Sizemore about her life, and not three, but 22 personalities that came about after her initial diagnosis and treatment.