Cambridge Cameos: stories of life in seventeenth-century New England, by Roger Thompson. New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston, Massachusetts, 2005.
This book takes an in-depth look into the lives of Cambridge residents in the 1600's. The introduction is a great essay about life in Cambridge at the time. The forty-four "cameos" he provides, each looking at a specific family, conflict, legal case, or event, make the city's early history feel much more inhabited. Thompson tells stories of the power dynamic between servants and their masters, describes sexual temptations in the strictly Christian community and what happened when people did or did not act upon their lust, and various people's struggles for more money, whether they started off paupers or were already well-to do. The book is thoroughly researched, using the documents of the city's early history in a way I imagine they have never been presented before, at least not on this scale. The details occasionally weigh the narrative down, and it can be dense at times. However, it's still a worthwhile read, and I recommend Cambridge Cameos to anyone with an interest in the time period.
Cambridge Reconsidered: 3 1/2 Centuries on the Charles, by S. B. Sutton. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976.
While I have to smile at the title -- why would Sutton reconsider Cambridge thirty-five years before I started considering it? -- this book is a great introduction to the history of the area. It has less illustrating material than many of the other books on Cambridge history on the market, so don't expect it to provide the coffee-table book nostalgia experience, but it has more content than many other books on the subject. This book has become the first source I turn to for most of my local history questions.
The Charles: The People's River by Max Hall is a great introduction to the history of the Charles River. It is short and manageable, and includes a variety of illustrations and photographs documenting the many changes to the river's banks. If you want to become an expert on the Charles and the relationship that Cambridge, Boston, and other areas have with it, I recommend Inventing the Charles River, by Karl Haglund. It's more of a time commitment than Hall's book but just as well-written and well-illustrated, and it is very thorough. Inventing the Charles River was published in cooperation with the Charles River Conservancy.
If you enjoyed my 3-part series on Anne Hutchinson, I recommend taking a look at the transcript of the trial itself. Skim over any part that you find dense (depending on your level of familiarity with Christian thought, this will be about a quarter of it or next to none of it), and what remains is a compelling courtroom drama. Imagine how heated and tense the arguments must have been. Reading her words, it is easy to understand why many people regard Hutchinson as something of an early American hero. You can find the transcript in several places online -- I used this page -- and while I have not gotten my hands on a copy myself, I hear that The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638: a documentary history, edited by David Hall (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1968) is a great source for a deeper understanding, including letters, the trial transcript, and more.
BostonCentral lists things to do in the area, cultural events, and more.
The Cambridge Historical Society describes itself as "a repository of history and culture ... an active non-profit organization and dedicated to promoting an interest in all aspects of the history and heritage of Cambridge." They also write the only other blog on Cambridge's history, which can be found here. It's definitely worth subscribing to for the articles and for the peeks into the Society's collections.