Holiday Maine Book Round-Up

Chowder Rules!

by Anna Crowley Redding

Illustrations by Vita Lane

Children’s Picture Book, $17.95

Maine loves its clam chowder, and most locals love it with no tomatoes. Perhaps no one took that idea more seriously than Maine lawmaker Cleveland Sleeper in the 1930s. Sleeper so loved steamy, creamy, dreamy clam chowder that any thought of seeing tomatoes in his chowder made him see red. So, Sleeper proposed a bill to make it a crime to add tomatoes to clam chowder. A war of words with New Yorkers raged until finally a duel of chefs in Portland settled the matter once and for all.

Chowder Rules! is the true story behind the great chowder cook-off of 1939. It is told by author Anna Crowley Redding with gusto, humor, and, of course, good taste. The delightful illustrations are the work of Vita Lane of New Hampshire.

Anna Crowley Redding is an Emmy-award winning investigative television reporter, anchor, and journalist who lives in Cape Elizabeth. She is using her journalism skills as part of a booming second career, making a name for herself writing nonfiction children’s picture and young adult books. She also wrote Google It: A History of Google and Elon Musk: A Mission to Save the World.

Blue Summer

by Jim Nichols

Fiction, $17.95

Author Jim Nichols grew up in Freeport and over the years has worked as a bartender, pilot, skycap, taxi driver, fence builder, orange picker, travel agent, and dispatcher for an air taxi service in Midcoast Maine. His writing draws from his many experiences and often tackles the grittier side of everyday life in Maine. His previous novel, Closer All the Time, won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for best fiction. He returns in 2020 with Blue Summer, a riveting coming-of-age novel told in retrospect by a washed-out taxi-driving musician from Baxter, Maine, who must come to terms with his past by returning to Maine and confronting the secrets and violence in his family. Maine author Jaed Coffin called Blue Summer, “a heartbreaking testament to youth, loss, love, and the painfully inevitable passage of time.” Blue Summer proves that Nichols is becoming one of the best and most authentic Maine novelists writing today.

Stories of Aroostook: The Best of Echoes Magazine

Edited by Kathryn Olmstead

Anthology, $17.95

For nearly 30 years, beloved Echoes magazine brought the culture, heritage, landscape, and people of Aroostook County to readers in Maine and across the United States. Publisher Kathryn Olmstead, who co-founded the magazine, once told a newspaper, “In our experience, a place like Aroostook County is the kind of place most people can only imagine.”

Olmstead and co-founder Gordon Hammond, both “from away,” set out to share the experience of living in an area where people not only leave vehicles unattended and unlocked, but running in the winter to keep the engines warm. But what started as a portrait of a place, quickly evolved into a magazine with a mission—affirming the value of living simply with respect for nature, not as an escape, but as a way of life. Stories of Aroostook is a curated collection of articles and essays from the pages of the beloved quarterly magazine, which is no longer publishing, all capturing the spirit and sense of place that makes Aroostook County unforgettable.

The Weir

by Ruth Moore

Fiction, $17.95

Ruth Moore was born and raised in the Maine fishing village of Gotts Island in Frenchman Bay, just across the channel from famed Bass Harbor Head Light. Starting with her debut novel, The Weir, Moore (1903–1989) quickly emerged as one of the most important Maine authors of the twentieth century. She is best known for her authentic portrayals of Maine people and her evocative descriptions of the state. The New York Times once said of Moore, “It is doubtful if any American writer has ever done a better job of communicating a people, their talk, their thoughts, their geography, and their way of life.”

In the The Weir, originally published in 1943, Moore draws on her personal history and sets the novel in a small island fishing village during the years before World War II. The events of the novel take place against a backdrop of hard work and struggle. In The Weir and in her successful subsequent novel, Spoonhandle, Moore captures the landscape of coastal Maine and its people, while weaving stories of universal human drama. The Weir features two primary families who feud, gossip, and struggle while being battered by the relentless tides of change that are sweeping over their community and their entire way of life. Islandport Press is reissuing several of Ruth Moore’s important novels, starting in 2020 with The Weir and Spoonhandle.

All is Calm

Edited by Shannon Butler

Anthology, $16.95

When many people think of Christmas, they dream of snow-covered pine trees and a small cabin warmed by the wood fire on a cold December day. Since Maine was founded in 1820, people have written stories about the joys of Christmas in the state. In times of hardship and in times of wealth, Maine and her people have always valued time shared with family and friends, connections with the natural world, rich traditions, and warm wood stoves.

Editor Shannon Butler, a native of Caribou, has put together a heartwarming anthology featuring essays, stories, and poetry. All Is Calm is a look at the lives of Mainers during the holidays, beginning in the mid-1800s, continuing through the Great Depression, and up to the present day. Spanning nearly 200 years, these stories show that while Christmas traditions and trends may be changing, the warmth and gratitude of the Maine spirit is evergreen. All is Calm was finalist for a 2020 Maine Literary Award.

Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine.

by Earl Brechlin

Nonfiction, $16.95

From Kittery to Eastport, from Fort Kent to Monhegan, Maine is home to natural wonders, quirky characters, remarkable inventors, and haunting ghosts and legends. Whether it’s Moxie Nerve Food, the North American Wife Carrying Competition, UFO abductions along the Allagash, or Katahdin’s role in creating Bambi, this book by long-time journalist Earl Brechlin celebrates all that makes the state unique—both real and imagined. Brechlin not only recognizes Maine’s natural beauty and notable historical aspects but also brings to life the myths, legends, truths, and tall tales that have been shared around Maine’s campfires for generations.

These books and others about Maine can be found at www.islandportpress.com or at booksellers across the state.

Author profile
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Dean Lunt

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