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Why We Love True Crime

Of the many genres of books, one that has rapidly gained a mainstream following is true crime. Our obsession with true crime can be seen virtually everywhere we turn. From the popularity of podcasts like “Serial” and “My Favorite Murder” to the proliferation of television shows like Making a Murderer and American Crime Story, true crime can be seen virtually everywhere in entertainment. We share memes about our affinity for true crime and even last year’s brief pandemic distraction, Joe Exotic, had a bit of true crime allure mixed in. True crime is also incredibly popular for readers, with the genre carefully tracing cases in vivid detail. So why do we love true crime? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons.

We Love Train Wrecks

Have you ever passed an accident on the interstate? Maybe it is on the shoulder and no lanes are even obstructed. Yet what happens without fail? You hit your brakes as the line of people in front of you have slowed to take a look. This is simply an aspect of human nature. We have an affinity for chaos and disorder. It is part of the human condition and perfectly normal.

This is one of the reasons why true crime often enchants viewers. Reading provides a portal to another world, and sometimes we want those worlds to be a bit chaotic. True crime provides a safe lens into a disturbing aspect of the world and, with a well-written true crime book, we simply cannot look away!


This is another subconscious reason why we tend to be drawn to true crime. It makes us feel prepared in an uncertain world. In fact, there has actually been research supporting this. Research from Illinois Wesleyan University found that women in particular were drawn to true crime for things like survival tips and how to identify a killer’s motives. They were also more likely to select books with female victims.

The research also found that this is not necessarily an intentional choice. Rather, it is a blending of entertainment with a psychological understanding of the world and our own internalized fears. Another researcher discussed reading true crime as somewhat of a “dress rehearsal.” Have you ever read a book and imagined what you would do in the situation? This is one of the fun aspects of reading true crime and actually a rather common topic of thought.

It’s Simply Exciting!

We have long loved fictional stories about killers who stalk in the night! True crime makes this familiar theme even that more exhilarating and scary because these books discuss real life situations. Reading about actual cases and situations can give a distinct adrenaline rush as we follow all the juicy details of the story.

There is also a bit of an addicting aspect to trying to solve the case. Are you one of the people that spend the first half of movies trying to identify who the killer will be? You’ll love true crime! Many books cover cases that are yet unsolved, meaning there are significant puzzles to piece together. Authors present the clues you’ll need to find your way to a plausible solution. You may even become so engrossed in a particular case that you want to read many books about it.

It’s all about the Storytelling

Ultimately, the impact and enjoyment of a true crime book comes down to how well the stories are told. Expert authors can craft a narrative that is compelling and engrossing. With true crime, there are so many potential details to delve into. We can look at the criminal’s past, explore a potential false accusation, learn about the crimes themselves, and so much more. There is so much to work with that true crime really empowers the potential for good storytelling.

Good storytelling can also be an important escape. We want to get away from reality for a while sometimes. This is perfectly healthy. True crime books can be a great tool for this allowing focus on something other than the rigor of life. It can be incredibly stimulating and relaxing at the same time.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons behind the newfound true crime obsession sweeping the nation. If you are interested in true crime, you can access thousands of titles with our True Crime Book Subscription. Subscribe today to get your true crime fix.

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