The best books about Maine

15 authors have picked their favorite books about Maine and why they recommend each book.

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One Man's Meat

By E.B. White,

Book cover of One Man's Meat

No one wrote better than E. B. White, and no one captured the essence of daily life on the home front better than White in this collection of essays. “This is my country and my night,” he wrote from his farm in Maine, “this is the blacked-out ending to the day, the way they end a skit in a revue.” Yet White acknowledged that it was nearly impossible for him or anyone else to truly convey all the ways that the war was changing ordinary Americans. “You write something that sounds informative, throwing the words around in the usual manner, then the thing explodes in your hands, and you look down at your hands,” he explained. “As though you had crushed a light bulb and were bleeding slightly.”


Who am I?

William Klingaman is the author of ten books, most recently The Darkest Year: The American Home Front, 1941-1942, and The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History. He holds a Ph.D. In American History from the University of Virginia, and has taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland.


I wrote...

The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942

By William Klingaman,

Book cover of The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942

What is my book about?

For Americans on the home front, the twelve months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor comprised the darkest year of World War Two. Despite government attempts to disguise the magnitude of American losses, it was clear that the nation had suffered a nearly unbroken string of military setbacks in the Pacific; by the autumn of 1942, government officials were openly acknowledging the possibility that the United States might lose the war. This is a history of the American home front from December 7, 1941, through the end of 1942, a psychological study of the nation under the pressure of total war.

Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

Written as a collection of short stories, each depicting crusty Olive Kitteridge in a different scenario, this novel brilliantly portrays a harsh woman who causes me to question why I love her so much. We see Olive’s self-awareness and sometimes tender side as she moves through her life. We see her in a relationship with her kind husband and with various townsfolks, always bringing her sardonic honesty. When I read Olive’s story for the first time, I surprised myself by falling l in love with her despite her startling relational gaffs. I believe we all have a little more of Olive than we care to admit—at least in our inner thoughts. 


Who am I?

Because of the presence of my four beloved grandparents throughout my growing up years, (all four of my grandparents even attended my wedding), I’ve always enjoyed relationships with older people. My comfort with older people translates into my friendships where many of the women in my life are quite a bit older than me. These intergenerational relationships offer wisdom and experience that informs my own life. I hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and have written one novel for adults and one for middle-grade readers. My past jobs include being a television engineer, an adjunct professor, and a publishing professional.


I wrote...

The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

By Linda MacKillop,

Book cover of The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

What is my book about?

Eva wants to run away from her life—if only she could remember how. Failing memory has forced Eva Gordon to move in with her granddaughter, Breezy, but Eva hates the bustle of Boston. She just wants to move back to quiet Cape Cod and be left alone. Then Breezy announces she's getting married, and they'll be moving to her new husband's rundown family farm, where he lives with an elderly uncle. 

It's all too much for Eva, but as her desire for privacy collides with her worsening memory, Eva finds herself in a poignant, hilarious, and intergenerational rescue effort to save her from herself. Can an unlikely cast of misfit characters step in to woo Eva from self-imposed isolation?

A Midwife's Tale

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Book cover of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

This widely acclaimed book uses the opaque diary of an obscure midwife from rural Maine in the decades after the Revolution to transform how we think about women's lives and women's work. A tour de force of the historian's craft, written with skill, compassion, and a flair for drama. As a professional historian, one of the things I love most about this book is the way that every chapter is such a revelation. Each chapter begins with a passage from the diary that at first seems mundane and uninteresting—until Ulrich starts working her magic. Soon, there is a puzzle to be solved. And by the end of each chapter, she's rummaged around in her hat and pulled out another rabbit. A revelation!


Who am I?

I'm an American historian and former director of UNC-Chapel Hill's Program in Sexuality Studies—and former pizza maker, gas pumper, park ranger, and tour guide at the house in which Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. As a historian, I've spent my career trying to understand the lives of people in early American history who weren't well known at the time. In writing the Sewing Girl's Tale, which focuses on a survivor of a sexual assault, it was especially important to keep her at the center of the story. Ultimately, I wanted to know: What was life in the aftermath of the American Revolution like—not for some Founding Father—but for an ordinary young woman.


I wrote...

The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America

By John Wood Sweet,

Book cover of The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America

What is my book about?

On a moonless night in the summer of 1793, a crime in the back room of a New York brothel transformed Lanah Sawyer’s life. It was the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, the seventeen-year-old seamstress did what virtually no one else dared to do: she charged a gentleman with rape. The trial rocked the city and nearly cost Lanah her life. And that was just the start.

The Sewing Girl's Tale is the story of an extraordinary prosecution in the aftermath of the American Revolution—and its contemporary relevance. Reviewers have hailed the book as “a masterpiece” (Wall Street Journal), “decidedly pro-woman” (Atlanta Journal Constitution), and “excellent and absorbing” (New York Times).

Off Season

By Jack Ketchum,

Book cover of Off Season

Ketchum’s classic survival horror novel about cannibals attacking a cabin of vacationers is pure 80s slasher goodness. It was perhaps the darkest book of its kind for a long time and pulls no punches with the intensity of its chase scenes. Ketchum’s economical writing style makes it a very easy read, one where you will root for the good guys, and be left emotionally drained by the end.


Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of horror because a good scare makes the adrenaline flow. Personally, I don’t think ghosts and demons are real, and they don’t scare me. But humans…humans can be downright evil. This is why I gravitate toward serial killer and slasher fiction when I’m looking for a scare. Sometimes I just want to test my endurance for the dark side of human nature. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to write a really depraved book without taking the time to make the reader care about the characters, which is why these novels are my favorite works of darkness. These are great, disturbing books with genuine pathos.


I wrote...

The Summer I Died: The Roger Huntington Saga, Book 1

By Ryan C. Thomas,

Book cover of The Summer I Died: The Roger Huntington Saga, Book 1

What is my book about?

Dubbed one of “The Most Intense Horror Novels” ever written by many thriller review sites, The Summer I Died is the first book in the Roger Huntington saga and a cult classic among fans of dark thriller fiction. Best friends, Roger and Tooth, are shooting beer cans at Bobcat Mountain, catching up on lost time, thinking about their futures, when they are suddenly thrust into the middle of a nightmare. Forced to fight for their lives against a sadistic serial killer, they must decide: are heroes born, or are they made? Blumhouse.com says “You’re in for a surprise!” and Bloodydisgusting.com says, “If you want to freak yourself out on your next camping trip, you can’t really do any better than The Summer I Died!”

Olive, Again

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive, Again

In these hilarious and often tender interconnected stories, Strout takes off where Olive Kitteridge (her previous book) ended, following her husband’s death. Olive is once again charting new territory with her grown son and his children, a particularly moving and unsentimental story about their visit. After her son leaves, Olive grapples with loneliness and turns to Jack Kennison, a man who is also struggling with his own strained relationship with his daughter. Together they form an unlikely couple, discovering a new realm of intimacy neither expected.  Relationships are at the centerpiece of this collection, and each story gives a glimpse into Olive’s tenacity and courage to grow and find joy wherever it comes. 


Who am I?

I've always been a person intrigued by relationships—why some last and others break up. From my perspective, distance in relationships arrives when two people have different expectations. I wanted to look at different kinds of distances in relationships—emotional, sexual, and geographical. As I was beginning to write my first stories, I read a line from my journal: explore the tension between the demands of relationships and the demand in myself to keep growing. I knew that tension was what I needed to write about. As an introvert, one of my deepest struggles has been to feel comfortable with my own boundaries in relationships, and I think that's true for most of us.


I wrote...

This Distance We Call Love

By Carol Dines,

Book cover of This Distance We Call Love

What is my book about?

This Distance We Call Love is a collection of powerful stories where irony and empathy collide. Carol Dines is a writer for our times, delivering masterful, unsettling, and utterly convincing fiction. Told from the perspectives of husbands, wives, siblings, children, lovers, and friends, the thirteen stories in this collection delve into the complexities of family and friendship: sisters battle issues of duty and obligation when one sister becomes homeless; a mother and daughter take a trip to Mexico, only to be followed by the daughter’s stalker; a family living in Rome must contend with their daughter’s rape; parents navigate raising their only child in the age of climate change. While some relationships fall apart, others remain entrenched in old patterns, grappling with notions of self and duty.

One Morning in Maine

By Robert McCloskey,

Book cover of One Morning in Maine

First published in 1952 and continues today as a fine example of finding joy and beauty in the simple experiences in life. McClosky draws a stunning view of Maine’s coastline that dazzles the senses. I sure plan to go find Buck’s Harbor there someday! The breezes, the seagulls, the sand, the small town ways of life along the eastern coast. I’m not the only one who finds this book a treasure. It holds the prestigious Caldecott Honor Book Award. Bravo, Robert!


Who am I?

My mother was rarely without pen and paper in hand. She wrote stories – true stories. After suffering a stroke she wasn’t able to compose the long enchanting novels she used to, but nevertheless kept writing. The stroke made it difficult for her to tell her special stories to her adored young grandson.  So we became creative. I took photos of her daily life with us. Brooke Dahmen drew beautiful illustrations from these photos. With her grandson’s and my help, grandma wrote true and heartfelt captions for the illustrations. All created in gratitude for the joys of senior living and the kind helping hands of a child.


I wrote...

A Land of Walkers and Wonder

By Leona Budilovsky, Joan Budilovsky, Brooke Dahmen (illustrator)

Book cover of A Land of Walkers and Wonder

What is my book about?

Is grandma or grandpa moving to assisted living? A Land of Walkers and Wonder is written specifically for children and seniors to explore these new types of living arrangements and be inspired by them. The story is about a day in the life of a 5-year-old boy as he visits his grandmother at her apartment in a senior living center. Everyone old is young again as fun games and surprises unfold between generations. Creativity holds no age limit. Inspiration exists in all shapes, sizes, abilities, and ages. Let this book inspire you to dream big at every age.

On a Summer Tide

By Suzanne Woods Fisher,

Book cover of On a Summer Tide

I love a good sisters novel—maybe because I always wished for a sister of my own? This cast of unique and engaging characters quickly drew me into their lives as these young women with very different personalities found ways to accept their widowed dad's plans to reopen the summer camp where he’d met their mother. I also enjoy a good plot twist, and the one at the end of this book was just right, a touching way to tie everything together. This book was primarily the eldest sister Cam's story, which means more books to follow with insights into the other sisters’ lives. Have I mentioned I love sequels? Once I connect with a set of characters, it’s hard to let them go!


Who am I?

I’m a native of Texas who loves bluebonnets, big skies, and barbecue! With 25+ books in print, I write about imperfect characters who discover their inner strength as they lean on God and learn to trust each other and themselves. I’m fascinated by the dynamics of personalities and relationships, as well as the backstories that made the individuals who they are now. If you’re looking for stories of true-to-life characters growing deeper in faith while dealing with all the messiness human relationships entail, here are some novels you may enjoy.


I wrote...

The Soft Whisper of Roses

By Myra Johnson,

Book cover of The Soft Whisper of Roses

What is my book about?

Six months into her marriage, Rebecca Townsend already doubts Gary’s promise of “till death do us part.” Betrayed by her first husband, she wants to get it right this time. But when her new husband’s unresolved family issues resurface, she’s afraid she and her son will be abandoned once again.

Just when Gary thought he’d found happiness with a woman who truly understood him, the death of his first wife blindsides him with grief and guilt. How can he possibly live up to his new wife’s expectations while fitting his resentful teenage daughter into the mix? A radical plan conceived by Gary’s ex-wife before her death risks tearing them all apart…or will it finally bring them together as the family God meant them to be?

Here If You Need Me

By Kate Braestrup,

Book cover of Here If You Need Me: A True Story

Here If You Need Me is a non-fiction memoir I read years ago on a whim. It still sticks with me. A woman with four children is happily married to a State trooper training to be a minister. When he dies suddenly, she goes on to become a minister herself, working with search and rescue missions in the Maine woods while raising her children. Her intimate knowledge of grief, her vulnerability, and compassion, coupled with a life of service and family, moved me so deeply that I often call upon the memory of this book in my life to metaphorically “get down on the floor with those who weep, and give them tea if they want it.”


Who am I?

With every book we read, we engage in a complex act of telepathy and empathy. We are entering another human’s thoughts, interpreting them with our own, and come out changed from this colossal encounter. These five books I mentioned, with their extraordinary kindness, insight, humor, wisdom, warmth, compassion, and wholeness—many of them fantasies, many of them focusing on communities—have informed the writer I am today: a World Fantasy Award Winner. But I wouldn’t be without all the books that helped make me. These books are some of the best that built me, and keep building in me: the kind of books I try to write myself.


I wrote...

Saint Death's Daughter: Volume 1

By Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney,

Book cover of Saint Death's Daughter: Volume 1

What is my book about?

Lanie Stones, the daughter of the Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner of Liriat, has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and a literal allergy to violence, she was raised in isolation in the family’s crumbling mansion by her oldest friend, the ancient revenant Goody Graves. When her parents are murdered, it falls on Lanie and her cheerfully psychotic sister Nita to settle their extensive debts or lose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat's ruler to protect them fall on indifferent ears… until she, too, is murdered, throwing the nation's future into doubt.

Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, hounded by her family’s creditors, and terrorised by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie will need more than luck to get through the next few months.

Landslide

By Susan Conley,

Book cover of Landslide

Oh, this book is perfect from the first page. It captures motherhood wonderfully and specifically—in this case, mothering two teenage boys—and it just as successfully captures the Maine coast and the complicated, sometimes fragile ecosystem of a marriage.

Jill is a documentary filmmaker who’s temporarily a single parent to her boys while her husband, a fisherman, recovers in a hospital from a boating accident. There’s nothing flashy about the story—it’s a smart, lovely, often funny look at one woman’s life. It’s a deeply contented life, by the way, which means the stakes are very high when the foundation of it starts to look shaky.


Who am I?

As someone who loves my work, I’ve noticed that in fiction when a woman is successful at her career, often that career mainly functions as a source of guilt or stress. Fictional working women spend a lot of time second guessing their choices, and, hey, it is hard to balance work and family. Women are torn in multiple directions. But I also believe it’s okay to love your job. It’s okay to find joy in it and to not beat yourself up. I find deep satisfaction in writing, and I enjoy reading about characters who know the rush of doing a job well.  


I wrote...

Family Law

By Gin Phillips,

Book cover of Family Law

What is my book about?

Set in 1980s Alabama, Family Law follows Lucia, an accomplished lawyer who’s made a name for herself at a time when a woman in a courtroom is still a rarity. She focuses her work on domestic abuse cases, messy divorces, and custody battles. When she meets Rachel, the teenage daughter of a potential client, an unlikely friendship is born – for Rachel, Lucia is proof that there are different ways of being a woman than the ones she’s been shown at home.

But Lucia’s work has put a target on her back. When threats against her start to put Rachel in danger, Lucia must decide what’s more important: the safety of those she cares about or the rights she’s spent her life fighting for. The story is a look at how we choose mothers other than the ones we’re born to, how we shape each other, and how we make a difference.

Cycle of the Werewolf

By Stephen King, Bernie Wrightson (illustrator),

Book cover of Cycle of the Werewolf

Now this is classic werewolf fare. The kind you’ve watched in dozens of movies or TV series. But with that Stephen King touch …

What I loved about this novel: King’s signature dive into small-town lives and small lives’ details. The arrangement of what is really a long short story or novelette: the 12 chapters as vignettes are cute and make for an easy read on a rainy afternoon. The magnificent artwork throughout (which, let’s face it, is there to pad out the paperback and make it look bigger in paperback). The unlikely hero who, though a little problematic, was still satisfying to me. And there are moments of typical gnarly King prose and human insight.


Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the dichotomy between humanity’s beauty and its penchant for visiting horror upon the world. This fascination drove me to write my own werewolf novel (and keep it true to the heart of the mythos). In no other genre/subgenre is human double-nature better explored than the werewolf one. From earliest times, these tales examined human complexity, mental illness, moral responsibility, the tenuousness of our understanding of reality. For me, a great werewolf novel is not an erotic romance or comedy urban fantasy. It’s a monster story: antsy, atmospheric, dark, violent, fraught. It's a thriller, not a swooner, with more in common with Jekyll and Hyde or Incredible Hulk than with Twilight (sorry Stephanie!). 


I wrote...

Black Marks

By Pete Aldin,

Book cover of Black Marks

What is my book about?

Jake Brennan thought the streets could hide him. He thought a werewolf’s sins could be erased.

Now Jake’s kind deeds have drawn the attention of his enemies. And he’ll need to embrace his dark side to save the woman he loves. If his dark side doesn’t kill her first...

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