The best non-fiction books according to Louis Theroux

Documentary maker and author Louis Theroux shares his favourite true crime and non-fiction books. 

As an award-winning documentary maker who has tackled subjects as diverse as the stray dogs of LA, the home life of Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee and the opiates crisis in America, it’s no surprise that some of Louis Theroux’s favourite books are non-fiction and true crime books. In our exclusive video, Louis discusses his top five favourite books, from journalistic investigations to pioneering true crime. His suggested reads will make great gifts for non-fiction or true crime fans in your life. 

And if you, or someone you know, can’t get enough of Louis’s documentaries, then don’t miss his brilliantly funny, heartfelt memoir Gotta Get Theroux This. The book takes the reader on a journey from Louis’s anxiety-prone childhood to his first TV gig, and an unexpectedly successful television career which has seen him immersed in the weird worlds of paranoid US militias, prison gang culture and the home life of Neil and Christine Hamilton.

In Cold Blood

by Truman Capote

Book cover for In Cold Blood

Possibly the most famous true crime book of all time, In Cold Blood tells the story of the murders of four members of the Clutter family in the small town of Halcomb, Texas. Truman Capote reconstructs the murders and the investigation which led to the trial and execution of the killers with nail-biting suspense and deep empathy.

Among the Thugs

by Bill Buford

Book cover for Among the Thugs

Acclaimed writer Bill Buford enters the world of football hooliganism in this chilling yet funny book about the eerie allure of crowd violence. From following Manchester United’s Red Army to drinking with skinheads, Bill immerses himself into this alternate, violent society.


by Russ Rymer

Book cover for Genie

This compelling book tells the story of a young woman’s emergence into the world following the first thirteen years of her life in which she was imprisoned by her father in one of the worst cases of child abuse the US has ever seen. At thirteen Genie was unable to speak more than a few words. The book focuses on her rescue and subsequent exploitation by scientists who were hoping to gain new insight into language acquisition.

Hope Against Hope

by Nadezhda Mandelstam

Book cover for Hope Against Hope

Hope Against Hope is the story of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, who suffered terrible persecution under Stalin until he died in 1938. This memoir, written by Osip’s wife Nadezhda Mandelstam, is both a vital first-hand account of life in Stalin’s Soviet Union and an inspiring love story. 

Blood Will Out

by Walter Kirn

Book cover for Blood Will Out

In the summer of 1998 Walter Kirn, a novelist dealing with the break-up of his marriage, agreed to help out some friends by driving cross country to deliver a dog from an animal shelter in Montana to the man in New York who had decided to adopt it. The man turned out to be Clark Rockefeller, a young banker and art collector. This fateful visit began a fifteen-year friendship between the two men as Walter was drawn into Clark’s privileged world, before Clark was unmasked as an imposter and brutal murderer with no connection to the Rockfeller family.

Here, Louis discusses how he wrote his bestselling memoir, Gotta Get Theroux This.

Gotta Get Theroux This

by Louis Theroux

Book cover for Gotta Get Theroux This

This funny and heartfelt account of Louis Theroux’s life and weird times in TV is a must-read for any fans of the acclaimed documentary maker. Filled with wry observations and self-deprecating humour, this is Louis at his best.