Literary Maine

Overwhelmed by the beauty of the foliage as I drive through Maine, I’ve decided Brunswick is my favorite place, maybe because it’s a college town. Although Longfellow wrote his first published poem at twelve years old, Bowdoin College was where he studied Latin and Greek, and became familiar with the rhyme scheme he later used in “Evangeline,” the sad tale of lovers torn apart when the British banished the French Acadians (now known as the Cajuns) from Nova Scotia. It seemed like a good idea to download the poem (free online) to reread it while here.

Brunswick also claims Harriet Beecher Stowe who lived in a house near campus with her professor husband for only two years before moving to Andover in Massachusetts. During his tenure at Bowdoin, Harriet wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to supplement his low salary. Their house has changed through the years and the college now uses it as a dorm. I’ve never read this famous book (I do remember the play rendition in the movie “The King and I”). Have you read it?

Of course I’ve been seeking and finding bookstores: the Bowdoin College Bookstore, The Gulf of Maine in Brunswick, and Sherman’s – Maine’s oldest bookstore – in Bar Harbor. And the weather is great for reading.

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Summer Reading List

Journalist Nicholas D. Kristof offers his summer reading list with “great novels relating to social justice.”  He asks, why read fluff when you can read “mindful page-turners” on the beach?

Have you read any of these?  since high school?

  • Germinal by Emile Zola
  • Pale Fire by Vladimr Nabokov (author of Lolita)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
  • Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
For a short summary of each, go to Kristof’s essay:  Action! Romance! Social Justice!

Would you rather stick with nonfiction? NPR’s Rachel Smythe has these suggestions:

  • The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal (Read my review here)
  • Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden
  • Turn Right At Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
For more ideas on nonfiction, see Smythe’s article: Summers’ Biggest Juiciest Nonfiction Adventures