On a cold winter’s night, does anything beat curling up with a good book? While I prefer more lighthearted reads during the summer months, by winter, I’m ready to devour a hearty tome. Thankfully, with so many literary-inclined friends in my life, I’m never without a lengthy list of recommendations, some of which I’ll share with you today. This list is diverse in both subject and scope, yet I find that it’s cohesive in that each of these books tends to take our understanding of a subject matter and challenge it–often uncomfortably–forcing us to make sense of it in new ways.
The Witches: Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff
The infamous Salem Witch Trails are cast in a new light in this account, which takes a comprehensive look at the 17th century mayhem that took place in Salem, Massachusetts. Most of us are familiar with the disturbing tale of hysteria and subsequent executions when several pre-teen girls in the village began exhibiting convulsions, uncontrollable screaming, and other Satanically-inspired behaviors. But most descriptions of this period are fraught with hyperbole and blatant inaccuracies. Schiff takes a close look at the history and context that surround the trials, hoping to shed some light on the how’s and why’s of this moment in history.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Confession: I just read The Bell Jar for the first time ever (blasphemy, I know). But even for those of you who were assigned this definitive work in high school English class, now is a perfect time to revisit Esther Greenwood as she struggles to locate and define her purpose, all while battling inner demons and an existential angst.
Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, Larissa MacFarquhar
Do you value strangers’ lives as much (or more) as those closest to you? This is a central question in Strangers Drowning, a book that looks intimately at cases of extreme morality. Each chapter features a profile of a person who has devoted his or her life to upholding an uncompromising belief system; from a woman giving a majority of her income to international aid to a man subsisting on the World Equity Budget, MacFarquhar shows us just how far extreme altruists will go to honor their ethics.
What are you reading right now, or what’s on your reading list for winter?
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Photo: Pavan Trikutan via Unsplash;Goodreads; Huffington Post; Amazon