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Cultish
Cultish: The Secret Language You Didn't Know You Were Using | Amanda Montell
The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power. What makes "cults" so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we're looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join--and more importantly, stay in--extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell's argument is that, on some level, it already has . . . Our culture tends to provide pretty lame answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of "brainwashing." But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear--and are influenced by--every single day. Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities "cultish," revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven's Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of "cultish" everywhere.
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EvieBee
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I agreed nearly wholeheartedly with Montell‘s observations. As people make a mass exodus from organized religion, it stands to reason that they‘re going to try to fill that spiritual need elsewhere.

Also, can we talk about MLM and Direct Selling companies? It‘s why I quit social media. #hoopla

⭐️⭐️⭐️

5feet.of.fury MLMs we‘re definitely rabid in my social network until a hand full of years ago. Lularoe, colorstreet, pampered chef, beach body… bleh 5d
EvieBee @5feet.of.fury Yes! My family have been in them since the 70s. ALL of them. There are a lot of products that I really like, I just want to be able to place an order and be done with it. I don‘t need people selling to me and I don‘t want to join. 🤣 5d
5feet.of.fury @EvieBee oh yes, Mary Kay tried to get me in after I ordered at my friends party and they didn‘t even give me part of my order. Shadyyyy. Although, like, I feel like I need some Tupperware. Where‘s the Tupperware people at? 5d
EvieBee @5feet.of.fury Tupperware is one of my obsessions; I like collecting vintage pieces. I sometimes find them and old Pyrex dishes at antique malls in St Louis. 5d
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Hitchhikerbooks
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Flexibility without structure is chaos

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Gladly
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Pickpick

If I'd realized how good this was I'd wouldn't have put it off. Very very interesting and informative. I plan to drop a couple phrases I have used after reading this such as "They drank the kool-aid " and "It is what it is ". Both witty and sobering read.

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Karkar
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Pickpick

Super interesting. There were several points that she made that I had not thought about.

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Sophronisba
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I am enjoying Cultish, but the author just described Great Expectations as a “rags-to-riches“ story and -- has she read the book? Because that is not remotely the point of the book. Dickens was many things, but Horatio Alger was not one of them.

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ilyssa.g
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Pickpick

Just finished my book club‘s pick! Such an intriguing read! It is unlike any book I have read before! Montell did a great job of showing the depth and intersectionality of the word cult, cults themselves, people in cults, and people fascinated with them. There are diverse types of cults explained, not just the typical ones, such as Jonestown. The book is easy to understand for readers not in linguistics. I look forward to reading more by her!

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parasolofdoom
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Pickpick

Really interesting, nearly read in one sitting! I had a couple nitpicks but overall a really great read

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sebrittainclark
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thereadingpal Congrats! Also, this page is so pretty :D 4mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! Fabulous month!!! 4mo
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Eva_B
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Pickpick

This is a great read! Really well written and engaging. I am fascinated as to how people are drawn into cults. This book focuses on the use of language and covers not only cults but everything from fitness movements to Qanon to Amway. Really interesting reading

DebinHawaii I liked this one a lot! 4mo
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sebrittainclark
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Pickpick

4/5

A look into the language of both actual cults and groups with cult followings like soul cycle, cross fit, and amway, and how specific language helps define them. It was a super interesting read. The chapter on suicide cults was dark and a little difficult to get through, so I'd warn anyone thinking this is a light read, to be prepared for that.

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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Pickpick

Cults—religious and not—function on the foundation of specific language. Montell explains how they draw members in and keep them hooked. She also points out how MANY types of entities use this language to achieve cult-like ends—businesses, fitness companies, indeed practically any brand wanting to be the next big thing.

Full review https://www.TheBibliophage.com
#thebibliophage #booked2022 #aboutcultorreligion #nonfiction2022 #imasinner

BarbaraTheBibliophage Montell specifically talks about SoulCycle — then I saw THIS article today. (Apologies for the paywall.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/23/peoplehood-soulcycle-relation... 4mo
kspenmoll Thanks for the article Barbara-SoulCycle etc new to me. Will read your review 4mo
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ncsufoxes
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Pickpick

“But with a glimmer of willingness, language can do so much to squash independent thinking, obscure truths, encourage confirmation bias, & emotionally charge experiences such that no other way of life seems possible.” I really never thought a lot about how language can be used as a tool to manipulate people. I really liked this book & found it totally fascinating. #bookspin #nonfinction2022: I‘m an escapee, #booked2022: about a cult

ncsufoxes Plus I will never look at gyms/exercise memberships the same way again. 5mo
Cinfhen Wonderful review!! Great choice 5mo
TheAromaofBooks Great progress!! 5mo
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Ruthiella
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What do Scientology and Soulcycle have in common? A targeted use of language to create community, ritual, meaning and a common sense of purpose. This book was fascinating and thought provoking. My biggest take away is the concept of “thought terminating cliches”. I‘ve been subject to them but also guilty of using them myself! 😱

#Booked2022 - Winter edition - About a cult or religion.

Cinfhen Such a great read!! This book was fascinating!! 5mo
Ruthiella @Cinfhen And a popular one for this prompt! 5mo
alisiakae Great review! This book definitely helped me look at the language of major fitness chains, content creators, influencers etc in a different way (beyond the #bossbabes that already drove me nuts). 5mo
Ruthiella @4thhouseontheleft Thanks. It definitely makes the reader think! 5mo
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KarenUK
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I loved ‘Wordslut‘ and liked this one just as much. I love how Amanda makes linguistics both fascinating and fun! This one had the added bonus of being about cults and ‘cultish‘ language, which totally sucks me in. It looks at the use of specific language and at the ‘semantic murkiness‘ of influencing others, from Jonestown and Scientology to MLMs and workout ‘cults‘ and I couldn‘t stop listening to this audio! #booked2022 #aboutacultorreligion

Suet624 I was surprised by the addition of workout groups but it made total sense 5mo
Ruthiella I‘m currently reading this for the same prompt! About 1/2 way through and I agree it‘s fascinating stuff! 5mo
squirrelbrain This was so good! 5mo
Cinfhen This was my pick too for the same prompt!!! She‘s amazing 🤩 5mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage Yup, I just finished this. Popular choice for this prompt! And worth the time, for sure. 5mo
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mom2bugnbee
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Pickpick

I blame @britt_brooke & #NashvilleLittens for this one! ? Still wrapping my brain around "language that is cultish" versus "the language of cults".

⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

britt_brooke 😚 5mo
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alisiakae
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Pickpick

We made it home in time to be with #Isabel. Her pain meds help, but it‘s apparent that the fluid in her lungs is getting worse. She heads to the vet for the final time at 3pm.

While I wait with her, I thought I‘d review Cultish, a fascinating look at the language surrounding fanaticism. I loved the broad focus on how cultish language & traits appear (to varying degrees))in fitness & wellness programs, social media influencers, and #BossBabe MLMs.

MaureenMc 💗💗💗 6mo
OrangeMooseReads 💔 Much love to you. 6mo
See All 36 Comments
Readergrrl It sounds like an interesting book that I‘d like to read, but I also wanted to say that I‘m both sad that your kitty is at this part of her journey and happy that you are there with her. We love our pets, but this part is always the worst and yet very important part of loving them well. 💜 6mo
ju.ca.no 💔 much love! 6mo
Cinfhen Sorry to hear the news about your beautiful girl, Isabel. Love to all of you 6mo
TrishB Sending hugs♥️ 6mo
AmyG Sending a hug. 😘❤️ 6mo
Chrissyreadit Sending you love. I‘m so sorry. 6mo
JessClark78 ❤️❤️ 6mo
squirrelbrain Thinking of you all and sending love 6mo
KellyK 😢💔 so sorry… no other words. 6mo
RaeLovesToRead Sending lots of love and hugs to both you and Isabel 💕 6mo
Nutmegnc Sending love and 🌈 for you and your special Kitty. 6mo
Jas16 Sending ❤️ 6mo
JenReadsAlot Sending all my best to you ❤️ 6mo
MartinaLove Sending hugs. ❤️ 6mo
Eggbeater My heart goes out to you. I know this pain. 6mo
BookwormM So sorry 6mo
janeycanuck I‘m so sorry to hear you have to say goodbye. You were blessed to have her in your life and she was blessed to have your family in hers. 6mo
Clare-Dragonfly I‘m so sorry 💗 6mo
quietjenn Sending love. We lost our boy a little over a week ago, so I know how hard it is. 6mo
GondorGirl I am so so sorry. I'm glad you got home in time to be with her. She always seemed like a special cat. 6mo
Oryx Sending love ❤️❤️ 6mo
Libby1 (((Hugs))) 6mo
LitStephanie So sorry your time with that beautiful cali is coming to an end. I am sure you have her a good life. 6mo
Gissy 💔 6mo
Gissy 💔 6mo
Lauram My thoughts are with you and your beautiful girl. She was so lucky to have you. 6mo
KathyWheeler I‘m so sorry. 😢 6mo
CarolynM {{Hugs}} 💔 6mo
Bookzombie I‘m so sorry about Isabel. Sending love to you all. 💕 6mo
Leftcoastzen I‘m so sorry , hugs to you, so heartbreaking. 6mo
CBee I‘m so sorry, Alisia 💔 6mo
Catsandbooks So sorry for your loss! Sending love! 💕 5mo
89 likes36 comments
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DebinHawaii
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Pickpick

I find both cults and words fascinating, so this book was right up my alley. An interesting topic told in an entertaining way. I liked how the author explored cults in religion to MLM to fitness & wellness & explained the language & the words that draw us in. This one will keep me thinking. I WILL get to Wordslut soon!

Suet624 I agree completely with your review. 6mo
BookBabe Great review! Sounds interesting, it‘s definitely a problem in our society 6mo
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swynn
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Pickpick

(2021) It's about how cults use manipulative language -- and how the same techniques are used by groups that you might not think of as cults, like Amway or CrossFit. It's an enlightening look at cult-ish group behavior, and Montell's snarky, cynical voice is a pleasure.

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jdiehr
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Pickpick

I am drawn to stories about cults whether it be a TV documentary, a book, or a movie. I can't look away.

When Cultish came up as a Kindle Daily Deal I snatched it up.

This book examines the language of cults in an entertaining way that scares you.

Now I want to read Wordslut by the same author. Has anyone read it??

Jas16 Wordslut was also really good. 6mo
Megabooks Wordslut is fantastic! 6mo
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swynn
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It started with a prayer.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

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Cortg
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Sorry for the spam posts you‘re about to see! I decided a little late in the game to join #booked2022 Cults fascinate me and this one was about the language, or word choices, cults use. Interesting. ~about a cult or religion

Cinfhen I used this one too for that prompt 💕😇 6mo
Cortg @cinfhen It was popping up a lot on Litsy a couple of months ago so I decided to listen to it. I enjoyed it! #blameitonlitsy 6mo
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britt_brooke
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #reread

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55338982

PS. I highly recommend Montell‘s podcast “Sounds Like a Cult” with comedian Isa Medina. It‘s great fun! 😄

vivastory This is a favorite read of the year. I could have sworn that I recently heard that she just announced details of an upcoming book, but after a quick Google search I'm not finding anything. 6mo
britt_brooke @vivastory It was one of my top ones last year, too! I love her. I sure hope she has a new one in the works! 🤞🏼🤞🏼 6mo
readordierachel Loved this one! The podcast sounds great 👍🏼 6mo
Cinfhen Thanks for the podcast recommendation 💚 6mo
britt_brooke @readordierachel @Cinfhen The pod is quite entertaining. I hope y‘all will check it out! (edited) 6mo
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Suet624
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Pickpick

Interesting analysis on language being the key component used to ensnare/coerce/inspire someone into joining a group. Notorious cults are examined as well as multi-level marketing (Amway has quite the slimy history), gyms, new age groups, and QAnon. It‘s a wild world out there, folks.

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ClairesReads
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Pickpick

A very, very interesting analysis of the language of cults. Montell explores different ways that cults use language to manipulate behaviour, and then examines the many contexts in which language is used similarly in cult-like features of our everyday lives. It is clever, engaging, and well-reasoned. I was captivated.

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rachelsbrittain
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Pickpick

A really excellent nonfiction read about how language informs / creates cults and cultish groups, from dangerous sects like Scientology to workout groups like CrossFit. I'm fascinated by both cults and language so this was the perfect cross section for me, and explored an aspect of cults not always focused on, especially in this broad a context. Highly recommend.

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shanebeth
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the Kindle deals have been 🔥 this weekend. I‘ve loaded up on some fun stuff, including this one I‘m super excited to read! some purchases give you a 30 cent discount toward another Kindle book, too, as seen here.

jdiehr I got this one, too! 7mo
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Simona
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I‘m always intrigued by cults and the different ways that you can be deceived into them. Language, using right words with the promise of better life can do that easily … and the author treated this serious topic - linguistic (in connection to social elements) in understandable way and with wittiness. Very readable, and I little bit scary, if you think about how quickly different aspects of our life can fall into cultish category. #audiowalks

LeahBergen What a wonderful photo! 😍 7mo
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squirrelbrain Loved this book…and such a cute pup! 7mo
Simona @LeahBergen Thanks! This is my favorite part of path on my daily walk. It looks magnificent in the summer. 7mo
Simona @squirrelbrain She is cutie 😊 and very happy when she can run freely. 7mo
BarbaraBB Look at her 😍😍 7mo
Cinfhen Look at the happy girl 🐾♥️and I agree, this book was really eye-opening. I think the author is brilliant. She‘s under 30!! 7mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa Great photo!!! 7mo
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she.hearts.horror
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Yogi Tea!

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Bzosche
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“… language doesn‘t work to manipulate people into believing things they don‘t want to believe; instead, it gives them license to believe ideas they‘re already open to.”

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brittanybooks
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Such an interesting deep dive into cults and the cultish past and present!!!! One of my favorite reads so far this year! #book41of2022

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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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SRWCF These are all such great quotes! So many women fall prey to these types of organizations. 7mo
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brittanybooks
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SRWCF Haha! True. 7mo
brittanybooks 💯 💯 💯 7mo
Suet624 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 7mo
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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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brittanybooks
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stretchkev
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Mehso-so

A well researched well written book on an incredibly interesting topic.

Had some structural issues for me but i don't think the odd chapter breaks and reiteration are reasons not to read this one.

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readordierachel
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Pickpick

Fascinating and accessible. Montell examines the language and tactics used by scary religious cults, fitness "cults," and MLMs. Obviously, not all "cults" are created equal (Crossfit is not Jonestown). I appreciated that Montell took a compassionate view of the how and why people are drawn to certain groups. Very timely, and it weirdly made me feel a little better about the world, though I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly why.

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catiewithac
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Pickpick

Enjoyable non-fiction read! The author wrote for beauty magazines early in her career. She has a fun writing style about serious and disturbing themes!

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AbigailJaneBlog
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A quick round up of all the reading challeneges and buddy reads I've decided to join this year!

We have A Kind Of Spark for @PuddleJumper 's #Roll100 book 1.

Egyptian Mythology for #FoodandLit - I made an amazing rice dish that I'll share later @Texreader @Butterfinger @Catsandbooks

I attempted to read Code Name Verity for #YAbuddyread @megnews but I just couldn't get into it.

Finally I read Cultish for #Booked2022

megnews I‘m sorry you didn‘t get into Code Name Verity. I felt like it was the fastest paced, more interesting books I‘ve read in a while. But everybody‘s different. Are you reading Mare‘s War in February? 8mo
AbigailJaneBlog @megnews I tried reading it a few years ago and couldn't get into it then either! I can't get hold of a copy of Mare's War so I guess I'll try to get back into it in March 8mo
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Magpiegem
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Pickpick

4/22 I enjoyed this book, especially the sections that moved on from traditional cults to other aspects of life which are cultish in their language. It was interesting and I will definitely keep it in mind as I navigate my way through modern life! #booked2021 #bookaboutacult

Cinfhen Agreed, this book was fascinating 8mo
alisiakae This sounds so interesting! I‘m particularly curious what they have to say about the Peloton culture, since I use my Peloton bike and the off-bike classes for all my workouts and have been an avid fan for 3 years now. 😄 8mo
Magpiegem @4thhouseontheleft yes I found it fascinating! Especially the bit about how they recruit and train their staff! But don‘t worry, the conclusion is not that Peloton is an evil cult 😁 8mo
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alisiakae @Magpiegem I‘ve heard they recruited in the early days by telling instructors Peloton would make them famous, right? Although that does seem to have worked for Cody 🤣 8mo
Magpiegem @4thhouseontheleft yes! They actually don‘t recruit fitness instructors, they recruit actors and teach them how to be fitness instructors. So it doesn‘t matter if they have never used an exercise bike before… quite inspired really 😄 8mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage I‘m definitely interested in this book. I grew up in a cultish religion and left in my 20s. 8mo
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Kayla.Adriena
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Happy Litsyversary @IamIamIam #5YearGiveaway
Books on my wishlist are Cultish by Amanda Montell or Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit 🎉🎉🎉

IamIamIam 💜💜💜 8mo
deeannloso Happy Litsyversary!! 8mo
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ReadingRachael
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Pickpick

Written in an unpretentious conversational tone “Cultish” is interesting, informative, and well referenced, with added bits of humour that keep it from feeling too heavy. The central theme of the book is the use of language by cults (and cultish groups) for influence and control. Montell shares how to recognize and question problematic language (for example gaslighting / language that encourages you not to trust yourself.) Really enjoyed this one

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Magpiegem
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I‘ve been waiting eagerly for my audible credit to come so I can get this book on the go. It will be my #booked2022 #aboutacult book.

vivastory Loved this one! 8mo
Megabooks Such a great book! 8mo
Magpiegem @vivastory @Megabooks I‘ve nearly finished and it‘s been great! 8mo
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Booksbymybed
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Pickpick

Back in 2021 I kind of took a dive into some cult documentaries and someone said in one “We talk to our kids about drugs and alcohol, but we don‘t talk to them about cults.” And it really resonated with me as a mom of teenagers. I came across this book by @amanda_montell and found it very interesting.And especially as a linguist by education found the idea of how language and cults work together absolutely fascinating. Son is reading it now

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Veebee
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Pickpick

Interesting insight into how cults manipulate their members into control and obedience through language. Deceptive techniques like thought terminating cliches, loaded language and 'us versus them' language that cult leaders used are mentioned. Many MLM firms, health and fitness clubs and new age gurus also behave like cults.

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vivastory
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In “Cultish“ Amanda Montell examines common linguistic tactics used by both infamous cults (Jim Jones, Scientology, Heaven's Gate) & with people or organizations with cultish tendencies (SoulCycle, mystical Instagram influencers, etc.) Love bombing, loaded language, us vs them, & thought-terminating clichés are the 4 common tools used in order to manipulate people. Cultish dispels ideas of people in cults being “brainwashed“ (in a striking👇

vivastory passage Montell speaks of abuses carried out in the name of cult deprogramming). I greatly appreciate the scope of this book, infused with humor, & balanced with an appreciation of the benefits of certain group activities. Montell is a language scholar, she wishes for the reader to carefully consider the language around us & how it is being used but to also keep in mind that “Too much wariness spoils the most enchanting parts of being a human.“ 9mo
Booksnchill Really loved this one on audio as well! 9mo
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vivastory @Booksnchill I will keep that in mind 👍 9mo
Megabooks Fantastic!! I‘m glad you loved it! Voices is shaping up to be 5⭐️ for me too. Great pairing @monalyisha 👍🏻 9mo
vivastory @Megabooks I will definitely be checking out Montell's previous book. I'm glad to hear that about Voices! 9mo
monalyisha Thanks @Megabooks! I also enjoyed the audio version, @Booksnchill 📖. 9mo
Megabooks @vivastory yes, I read Wordslut in 2020, and it made that year‘s nywd list. 9mo
Branwen Oh wow, this looks amazing! I'll have to see if we have it at the library! And that quote from it that you shared is just 💕💕💕 9mo
vivastory @Branwen I hope you can find it! I will definitely be recommending it to a lot of people. 9mo
Reggie During quarantine, a close friend and I lost contact, but the minute everything opened up we had dinner together and she told me about getting a peloton. And for the next 2 hours I felt like I was at a peloton seminar. We laughed about it and funny enough tonight she sent me a pic of her completing her 400th ride. And then one of her trainers was on DWTS and she would text me to vote for him. Cody!! It seems a bit much at times Lolol. (edited) 9mo
vivastory @Reggie Montell talks about Peloton in her section on how fitness has evolved over the years but has still retained certain characteristics. It's funny because while reading her descriptions of people being in a group & responding to a motivational speaker & how they found it uplifting & inspiring, I'm thinking, “This is my worst nightmare.“ 🙃 (edited) 9mo
Suet624 This sounds fascinating! Stacked. 9mo
readordierachel Excellent review. And with all the quotes you posted, I'm completely sold. This sounds great. 9mo
vivastory @readordierachel Thanks! I think you'd like it. Great review of Hamnet. It's been on my TBR shelves for awhile now. Hope to read it soon! 9mo
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