Reading Now: The Witches by Stacy Schiff &The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson


Right now I'm reading Stacy Schiff's history of the Salem witch trials, The Witches. It's great for this time of year: not only does Schiff go into detail about day-to-day life in the Massachusetts Bay colony (birthplace of Thanksgiving), but she also gives a very well-rounded account of what exactly happened in 1692 (or what we can surmise may have happened), spooky apparitions and all. It's not a perfect book--conflicts with Native Americans, obviously a huge part of that day-to-day life, are only discussed in passing (at least thus far; I'm about halfway through), and occasionally it's weighted down by too much quotidian detail, but I still highly recommend The Witches for those with a casual interest in history and/or sociology and/or the occult.

I also want to do a quick review of The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Matt's pick for the Wilde Readers book club this month. It's a staff favorite for a reason: Nelson takes an inviting approach to an unusual situation, describing the months when she was pregnant as her husband transitioned with a mixture of warmth and candor; it's like reading the world's smartest diary. The interpolated lines from Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, et al. only serve to buttress the extreme approachability of her text, not distract from it. -Maddie