8 Books That Inspired Real Crimes
Entertainment

8 Books That Inspired Real Crimes

Novels aren't always "just fiction."

4235
NYC 1981

The best books are the ones that make you see the world differently than you did before you started reading. Unfortunately for J.D. Salinger among others, they didn't know their novels would inspire some of the most infamous, gruesome crimes in history. And this list doesn't even comprise half.


1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Holden Caulfield has become the symbol of teenage angst and identity as he is kicked out of school for poor grades and then embarks on a journey of self-discovery through New York City in which he observes phonies, life, familiy, hookers and


This book has inspired multiple murders, most notably the infamous murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman. Chapman identified with the book so much that he considered Lennon's murder to be the 27th chapter in the 26-chapter book. He even quoted a line from the novel at his trial and wrote "this is my statement" on the inside cover of the copy recovered from his jacket pocket during his arrest.

John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt of former president Ronald Reagan was apparently inspired by his unrequited love for Jodie Foster and the movie Taxi Driver but a copy of The Catcher in the Rye was also found in his belongings.

In 1989, Robert Bardo murdered actress Rebecca Schaeffer and upon investigation of his belongings, authorities also found a copy of Catcher.

2. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

The "Satanic Verses" mentioned in the title refer to Satan tricking Muhammad into worshipping three goddesses in addition to Allah, though these passages don't actually exist in the Quran. "Mahound" is the name of a character in the book, which is a derogatory name for Muhammad used by Christians during the Crusades.

In February 1989, six Pakistani protesters against the book died, quickly followed by twelve others during a march in Mumbai.

A Japanese translator of the book was murdered in 1991.

A hotel fire in Turkey intended for another translator killed 36.

An Italian translator was stabbed but survived.

Multiple bookstores carrying The Satanic Verses were firebombed.

A small newspaper company in the Bronx, NY, The Riverdale Press was burned to the ground after publishing an editorial defense of the novel.


3. The Collector by John Fowles (1963)

Frederick Clegg is a butterfly collector with severe Asperger's Syndrome. He grows lonely and captures Miranda, a girl he has been obsessing over for some time, and adds her to his "collection."

Serial killer Christopher Wilder captured and killed 8 young women in the 1980s and was found to have the book in his possession when he shot himself.

Robert Berdella, the Kansas City Butcher, captured and killed at least 6 men in the 1980s.

Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, who were inspired by the book, tortured and killed nearly 30 women before being caught.


4. The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig by David Graham Phillips (1909)

Drawing on his personal life, Phillips wrote a story about a young man who comes to Washington and is immediately presented with money, power and women.

Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough shot the author six times when he became suspicious that Phillips had based one of the characters in the book on Goldsborough's sister in an attempt to defame her. He then turned the gun on himself.


5. Rage by Stephen King (1977)

Charlie Decker kills his teacher and takes his classmates hostage into what soon becomes a group therapy situation.

In 1988, Jeffrey Lyne Cox ordered the teacher out of the room and then held his classmates hostage until other students knocked him to the ground and saved themselves without any loss of life.

In 1989, Dustin Pierce took his algebra class hostage for nine hours after reading the book.

In February 1996, Barry Loukaitis used a rifle and handguns to take his class hostage and then killed three while quoting Rage.

In 1997, Michael Carneal killed three and wounded five members of a prayer group at his high school; a copy of the book was found in his locker.

In 1999, Stephen King asked that the novel never be printed again.


6. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

In New York City in 1987, successful Wall Street tycoon Patrick Bateman spends nights as a different person entirely--a serial killer.

In 2007, 14 year old Michael Hernandez stabbed a classmate to death, claiming to mimic the protagonist with permission from God.


7. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

In future England, Alex and his "Droogs" spend nights getting high before embarking on sprees of violence.

In 1973, a 16 years old boy dressed as the gang in the book and stabbed a younger boy.

John Ricketts, dressed as a droog, assaulted a woman because she was 'taking up too much space on the dance floor.'


8. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (1906-1907)

Published in weekly installments, the plot revolves around an ex-university professor's plan to destroy the Greenwich Observatory in London with dynamite.

Ted Kacynski, the Unabomber, was known to read Conrad's works repeatedly. As a result of the similarities between Kacynski's personal life and The Secret Agent, the FBI recruited Conrad scholars to help them better understand the Unabomber's campaign and motives for mail-bomb terror.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Taylar Banks

May 25, 2020: the day that will forever be remembered as the day George Floyd lost his life at the hands of cops.

The day that systematic racism again reared its head at full force in 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 17 Black-Owned Businesses Ship Baked Goods, Rosé, And Even Fried Chicken Nationwide

Eat your way through this country's greatest food — from your couch.

Call it the easily bored Gemini in me, but I'm constantly looking for new food to try. Usually, travel quenches my taste for new and exciting cuisines, but given the fact that international travel is not always a possibility, I've begun exploring alternatives.

In the interest of wanting to support the Black community and Black-owned businesses, and also wanting to try some of the country's greatest food without having to get off my couch, I started off (pessimistically) doing research, only to find that the options were vast.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

24 Beauty And Style Brands Donating To The Fight To End Police Brutality Against Black People

From small, boutique brands to legacy fashion brands.

The worlds of beauty and fashion often collide, whether for good or bad. In both, underrepresentation has always been, and remains to be, a major unresolved issue. After the recent killing of George Floyd, many people are rightfully enraged, compounded by the fact his death in police custody wasn't an isolated incident.

Police brutality against Black people is not new, and isn't going away till we start dedicating resources to fighting it. Many of us, as individuals, have only begun in the last week scratching the surface of what it means to educate ourselves on race, historical race relations, and how to be an ally to the Black community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Can Still Connect While Disconnecting From Social Media

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a lot going on right now, particularly in relation to George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and public protest of racial injustice in the United States. While we can all agree that this deserves conversations, change, and actionable good, social media arguments with Great Aunt Linda are not where social change begins and ends. Spending too much time scrolling through your phone has never been healthy, but now it's even more addicting — what does that one person from my hometown say about this? How can I further education within discussions? Am I posting enough?

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't know about you, but reading is at the top of my to-do list this summer... especially with all the social distancing I'll still be doing. If, like me, you're hoping to pick up a romantic page-turner (or a couple dozen), here are 23 romance novels by Black authors you'll absolutely LOVE reading.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

22 Black-Owned Etsy Shops With The Perfect Gifts For Everyone In Your Life — Including You

Treat yourself and your loved ones while supporting Black creatives and artisans.

R-KI-TEKT, Pontie Wax, Lovely Earthlings, and blade + bloom on Etsy

The world is taking action against the injustices and under-representation plaguing Black lives, and one small but impactful thing you can do to actively make a difference is support Black-owned businesses.

Etsy is likely one of your go-to sites for gift-buying, but have you ever paid attention to which independent artists and sellers you're buying from?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

True Self-Care Is HARD, That Face Mask Isn't Actually Going To Solve Your Problems

There's a line between self-care and self-destruction.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few years has seen something somewhere about self-care whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. Oftentimes it's pictures of celebrities or influencers sipping green smoothies or slathering on mud masks with #selfcare. It's posts like these that made me realize that "self-care" has become the ultimate buzz word, soaring in popularity but in the process, it's lost most of its original meaning. It's time to set the record straight and reclaim the term.

Although self-care has been around for quite some time, within the past few years it's been misconstrued and commodified as our capitalist society tends to do with things it thinks can be profited off. Self-care is now being peddled as something that can be bought and sold on the shelf at Target rather than something that takes real work to achieve. This fake self-care movement is not only enabling people to over-indulge themselves, but it has created a crutch for people to avoid the responsibility of taking true care of themselves. Instead of doing the work that needs to be done, many people fall into the trap of rewarding themselves for doing nothing at all — this can quickly become an unhealthy coping mechanism, especially with corporations cheering us on (to buy their next product). Long, hard day at work? Just grab your third iced coffee of the day! Fight with your SO? Buy that 50-dollar face mask, it'll make you feel better! This is how self-care becomes self-sabotage and self-destructive.

Keep Reading... Show less

Minorities are consistently under-represented in our day-to-day lives, notably in the world of fashion. It's likely you're looking for a way to support black artists. Whether that's the case or you're just a fashion-lover in general, these brands aren't just some of the best black-owned fashion brands — they're some of the most innovative brands of our time, period.

From luxury staples to fun accessories and loungewear, these brands aren't just stunning names you should definitely be following on Instagram, each honors the founder's roots in unique ways with the power of storytelling through artistic expression that manifests in pieces we can't wait to wear.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments