Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Benn Ray, one of the owners of Atomic Books in Baltimore.
When Benn Ray was a teenager growing up in suburbia in the '80s, he'd occasionally stumble across the remains of a fire and a pentagram spray-painted on a tree.
To adults at the time, that was terrifying.
"There was this paranoid wave that swept America, that Satanists were out there and they were coming for us," Ray explained.
"When you told your parents about that, your parents would freak out and insist there were Satanists in the woods. To them, that seemed like a more logical assumption than, say, a bunch of metal kids hanging out in the woods getting high — which is what it turned out to be."
Ray recommends a new collection of essays that addresses the paranoia and panic that gripped the country: "Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s," edited by Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe.
It's a fascinating read for "anybody who lived through the '80s and '90s, and anybody that is curious about public paranoia."