Maine turned 200 last year. The pandemic overshadowed any celebrations, and her birthday passed unheralded. In six more weeks, Maine officially turns 201, and in recognition of the milestone, the Stonington Public Library plans a yearlong Maine-themed book club to mark the state’s 201st birthday. Reading 12 Maine authors in 12 months. We’re calling it Maine 201.
Starting in February and running through January 2022, the reading list alternates between fiction and non-fiction. Selected authors include native Mainers and writers who later put down roots in the state. Collectively, they represent many different walks of life, and in their 12 distinct voices, they write about everything from seaweed and autism to misfits and hope. Explore the full reading list below with titles for diverse ages, interests, and backgrounds.
Join book club discussions—and contribute!—on the fourth Monday of every month from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Meetings held on Zoom until further notice. To request a library copy of any title, email firstname.lastname@example.org at least 3 weeks in advance. You can register now for February and March on our events page.
ALL READERS WELCOME!
February 22 (register)
Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry
Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers’ unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know.
March 22 (register)
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
“The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?”
So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. “As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.
One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.
My World Is an Island by Elisabeth Ogilvie
A memoir of the well-loved writer’s life on a Maine island, this updated edition offers a moving, humorous account of adjustment to a way of life that has sustained Ogilvie through the creation of 42 popular novels.
On Harbor’s Edge: Book One: 1912-1913 by Kate Hotchkiss
When an unsuspecting bride gets into a boat one stormy June day in 1912, Thaddeus takes her far out to sea to the end of Popplestone Isle. There villagers welcome Mildred with hopeful joy, but she discovers the tiny fishing community is headed for a most dreadful end. In her efforts to save their treasured harbor home, Mildred must risk losing everything she holds dear.
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan
Ashley’s autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. His story is powerful, bursting with his creative energy, and a testament to believing in oneself. It’s a book every child in America should have access to and it does what the very best autobiographies do; it inspires!
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan
In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.
One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer
Sarah’s aunt Edna paints portraits of chairs. Not people in chairs, just chairs. The old house is filled with the paintings, and the chairs themselves surround her work-a silent yet vigilant audience. At the funeral of Grandma Hutton-whom Edna has cared for through an agonizingly long and vague illness-Sarah begins helping her aunt clean up the last of a life. This includes honoring Grandma’s surprising wish to have her ashes scattered in Scotland.
An Upriver Passamaquoddy by Allen J. Sockabasin
When Allen was a child in the 1940s and 1950s, his village was isolated and depended largely on subsistence hunting and fishing, working in the woods, and seasonal harvesting work for its survival. Passamaquoddy was its first language, and the tribal traditions of sharing and helping one another ensured the survival of the group.
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.
Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran
In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such asThe Metamorphosis,The Scarlet Letter,The Iliad,and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.
December 20 (third week of the month to minimize holiday conflicts)
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules-from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?
Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge by Susan Hand Shetterly
Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made.