book review, nonfiction

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena, and Jess Zimmerman (Review)

33589940TitleBasic Witches
Authors: Jaya Saxena, and Jess Zimmerman
Type: Nonfiction
Sub-type: Self Help
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date published: August 29, 2017
Source: Publisher

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

SynopsisCapitalizing on the rising trend of hipster witchcraft, BASIC WITCHES is a lighthearted and empowering book of spells and lifestyle tips for feisty millennial women.

In Basic Witches, readers will discover how to tap into their inner sorceress and channel the dark arts for everything from cluttered apartments to dating disasters. Want to enhance your attractiveness? Pick the right power color of eyeshadow and project otherworldly glamour. Need to exorcise a toxic friendship? Say the right symbolic curse and banish it from your life. Need to boost your self-confidence? Whip up a tasty herbal “potion” to strengthen your inner resolve. Plus historical and pop culture sidebars that situate the new witchcraft trend within a broader context. With humor, heart, and a hip modern sensibility, journalists Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman dispense witchy wisdom for the curious, the cynical, and anyone who could use a magical boost to get through the day. This ain’t your grandma’s grimoire!

To learn more about the book, such as chapter titles, etc.,
please visit the page for it on the Quirk Books website!

– My Review –

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This book was so much fun! I’m not usually one to consult self-help books, or one who reads nonfiction in general! I know that some of you may also associate the word “nonfiction” with dry and boring information. But even as a lover of fiction (and fantasy fiction, at that), I am telling you that not all nonfiction has to be dry. In fact, quite a bit of nonfiction is actually quite fun while also being educational!

basic 1The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the title (I know! Usually it’s the cover, haha, but don’t worry…that was the second thing that caught my attention). Most of us will know that this title is a play on words based on a phrase which as become quite common I the past 5 years or so (this is an assumption, rather than an answer with any research behind it. Sorry!) Anyway, I found the title to be witty, and the cover to be fun and quite different from a lot of covers that I’ve seen over the years. The interior of Basic Witches is just as much fun as the exterior, and the same kind of illustrations can be found throughout. The authors and illustrator (whether the illustrator is one of the authors, I do not know) all have a very healthy sense of humour!

basic 2 They manage to cover a lot of bases, while being serious when it’s required, and quite funny when it’s called for! If my boyfriend or any of my family members were watching me while I read this book, they would have seen me alternate between some serious nodding, with a concentrated look on my face, and laughing uncontrollably. The formatting on the inside was also straightforward, keeping each type of information separate from the other types, in the way that an effective textbook would. I also really enjoyed the Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Charmed, (and possibly American Horror Story? I don’t quite remember) since those are some of my favourite things ever!

basic 3I like that this book does not have to be read in a chronological order. Rather, with the use of the index at the start of the book, you can flip to whichever section you need at a given time! I actually did read this book out of order, flipping from parts at the end to parts at the beginning, etc. etc. To avoid any confusion, this book is not necessarily for witches (although Wiccans are more than welcome to read it, obviously). The magic which is discussed in this book is actually more of a realistic magic. And what I mean by that is that Saxena and Zimmerman discuss the magic of effective goal-setting, positive thinking, good vibes, as well as how to “exorcise” demons such as fake friends, and toxic relationships. I also liked how both mental, and physical, health remedies were included (with the mental health ones in the form of “spells,” including steps and everything)!

Overall a really good self-help book, and fun at that! I will definitely be returning to this one, time and again. I will most certainly be keeping an eye on Saxena and Zimmerman, to see what they come up with next, and I have to say…I would not be opposed to a version of this book, or a book of the same nature (by these authors) formatted like and old school spellbook! Hint hint! Cough cough!

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– About the Authors –

14196427From Jaya Saxena‘s website: Jaya Saxena is a writer, editor, and author who was born and lives in New York City. Her writing has appeared in, The Toast, The Daily Dot, The New Yorker, The Hairpin, Buzzfeed, Atlas Obscura, Racked, Eater, Men’s Journal, Mic and others. She is the co-author of Dad Magazine (Quirk Books, April 26, 2016), the author The Book Of Lost Recipes (Page Street Publishing, June 14, 2016), and the co-author of Basic Witches (Quirk Books, August 29, 2017).

jess-headshot_origFrom Jess Zimmerman‘s website: I’ve been a journalist (at, a news writer (at Grist), an opinion columnist (at the Guardian), and a freelance writer of essays, fiction, and prose poetry. I was the founding editor of Archipelago, a contributing editor for The Establishment, and I’m now editor-in-chief of Electric Literature. I’m interested in puzzles, monsters, feelings, gender, nonlinear stories, cocktails, witches, magical realism, bears, dogs, unexamined assumptions, smashing patriarchy, some but not all robots, Shakespeare’s histories, and funny science fiction from the ’70s and ’80s. I live in Brooklyn with a dog and a human and nine remote-controlled lamps, and spend most of my time aging, feeling bad about aging, or frequently both.

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– Show Us Your Coven –


For a limited time you can go to Quirk Books’ “Show us your coven” page for details on how to win Basic Witches themed phone lock screens! As well as details on how to enter their awesome contest! You could win signed copies of Basic Witches for you and your friends, as well as some other awesome stuff! Check it out here!

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– Purchase Links –

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14 thoughts on “Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena, and Jess Zimmerman (Review)

    1. It really was fun to read! And they have some wise words regarding some very serious subjects too! And some witch history is sprinkled throughout. I loved it 🙂

  1. Quirk Books comes out with some fun “self-help” type books. A little while ago I read The Geek’s Guide to Dating, and for fun I also grabbed one called Geek Parenting: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us About Raising a Family. So seeing that this is a similar type of book, I now think I’m more likely to pick it up.

    1. They really do! I was tempted to request a lot of their self-help books actually…just because they seem so different and fun compared to what I’m used to. I’m so glad that you want to read this now! 😀

      1. The Geek’s Guide to Dating actually ended up not really being useful for me, because I bought it after my boyfriend and I had already been together a couple months, but it was still interesting. And I’m looking forward to reading Geek Parenting, though I’m still probably a couple years away from that being a reality. But Basic Witches seems like something that can be relevant at any time.

        1. Ohhhh yeah that wouldn’t be too useful then. Neither of those would really apply to me either at this point in time, haha. There were some dating tips in Basic Witches that I really skimmed too, because they didn’t apply to me.

    1. Hehe yay for witches! My interest in them comes in waves, but is never quite non-existent. But yes, Halloween does make my interest peak too! So glad to hear that you’ll be reading this! Hope you enjoy 😀

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