Travels Through Lobster and Blueberry Country…



After seven days of traveling through Maine – from the LL Bean store in Freeport, to Acadia, and then to Lubec, the easternmost town in the United States, and finally to Camden – I am back with lots of book-related pictures to share.

Lots of miles. Breathtaking scenery. A literal breath of fresh air….

Beginning with our furthest point: Acadia National Park, where there is a calendar-worthy scene at every point on the road.  We took walks on the carriage trails, learned about the Wabanaki people who were the original inhabitants of the land, and enjoyed the famous popovers at the Jordan Pond House. A friend suggested that we stay in Southwest Harbor, away from the t-shirt shops and congestion of Bar Harbor. It was an excellent recommendation, but our favorite store was in Northeast Harbor, an even quieter village.


The Naturalist’s Notebook is not a typical bookstore. It’s a combination bookstore and nature and science center and place to buy cool stuff. The owners, of course, describe it much better on their website: “a new way to inspire learning about nature through science, creativity and fun and as an exploration of the 13.8-billion-year history of the universe and everything in it, including us humans.”  It’s a wonderful space that made me want to begin my science education (or lack of it) all over again!  To learn more, the website is:




Our travels took us as far as Lubec where we crossed the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Bridge to Campobello Island to visit the “cottage” where Roosevelt spent summers as a child and young man.  Before the “international” part of our trip, I went to the Lubec Library which, judging from the busy circulation desk and computer stations, is clearly an integral part of the community.FullSizeRender-1

Next stop Rockland where we visited hello hello, one of my favorite independent bookshops. There’s an excellent coffee shop in front of the building which you walk through (after getting a yummy drink) to reach the store.  This was a lucky visit. Lacy Simons, hello hello’s owner, was working and we had a fun time talking about our favorite books.  She even persuaded me to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, The Signature of All Things, a book I avoided because of my less than enthusiastic response to Eat, Pray, Love and my concern that it would be too much like State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett, which I loved.


This is the best part of the store – a towering display of Lacy’s favorites:


While in Rockland, it’s a quick drive to see the statue of Andre the Seal in Rockport Harbor.


Andre is the star of several books, including this one:UnknownOn the way back, we visited another favorite store, Left Bank Books in Belfast.  It is one of the best curated stores on my unofficial lifetime bookstore list – a place where you could sit in a comfy chairs, ask someone to choose any book from the shelf, and be confident that it will be a good one.  The store feels good – key to the bookstore hopping experience.  I never want to leave, but when I do, it’s always with a bag!

A few more pictures to share….


We saw this giant blueberry on the side of the road and pulled right off the road!  As you can guess, the store sells blueberry jam, mugs, t-shirts, dish towels, and about a hundred other blueberry-covered things!


This girl was selling seashells that she found on the beach. She is going into 5th grade, and as I selected shells to buy, I asked about her favorite book which is —- Charlotte’s Web!  She told me her favorite scene is the one where Templeton finds the goose egg.  It kind of made my day!

Another book I purchased in an antique store, mostly for the fun of reading aloud as we travelled. This is a book published in 1923 by the French’s Mustard Company, which includes “a word to American housewives on the Art of Cooking.”  The first line reads: “To American home cooks, may I not send my felicitations on your cookery.”  After reading that line, I was sold!


But….I think the cover is graphically interesting. Look at the woman’s dress and how there is no delineating line between her and the background.

Finally, I saw this book in an antique store in Maine and paid $2.00 for it because of this two-page spread.  This would have been my childhood dream — and it’s come true!




Bookstore Hopping Through Midcoast Maine….


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With a list of bookstores in hand, my husband and I took a road trip through Maine’s midcoast this past week. So many blueberries! So many yummy lobster rolls! And so many book-related adventures…

We spent a few days in Camden where we found Sherman’s Books on Main Street. The best part of this store was looking up and finding a sock monkey gliding across the store…

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It was while browsing in Sherman’s that we heard the sad news about Robin Williams. The man working that evening saw it on his computer and let us know….the feeling of sadness and shock was palpable. All of the customers hoped it was a mistake until everyone’s phones began buzzing with the news.  On a happier note, we bought a book about the best lobster rolls in New England for a friend of ours who will drive many miles for a good lobster roll.

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One of the highlights of a trip to Camden is spending time in their beautiful public library. I want to apply for a job there, but only for the summer months. As a person with a serious snow-phobia, I don’t think Maine is the right direction for me to move. This summer the Library is hosting an exhibit, Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, as part of their Maine and the Civil War programs.

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Another day, we took our first trip to Monhegan Island, a small island about ten miles away from the mainland. It was a beautiful day and we hiked all around the island (which doesn’t take very long), and here’s what we found:

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It was interesting to be in a place with no paved roads or commercial activity. There are a few small stores, one hotel, and we saw two trucks on the island, but that’s about it. It truly felt like we had stepped back in time. Of course, the tourists taking picture with their phones kept the 21st century firmly in place, but it was fun (kind of) to imagine living in a place with no Starbucks!

The highlight of our bookstore visits was in Belfast, Maine where we discovered Left Bank Books. It is the perfect bookstore: cozy, warm, in a beautiful place, well edited, and a knowledgeable staff – well worth the visit if you have reason to be in Belfast or any town within an hours drive. We poked around for awhile and, of course, left with a bag full of books. Admittedly, I spent most of my time in the children’s section eavesdropping (for research purposes) on conversations between parents and kids. Among my favorite conversations were two boys – who looked about 10 – talking about The Giver movie and a sweet exchange between a dad and his daughter about finding a new chapter book to read together.

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I was especially happy to re-visit Hello Hello Books in Rockland. I love this store because it’s clearly owned by a person who loves books. My favorite display is a stack of Lacy’s favorite books – a few of her selections are in the pic below. I share her love for Three Junes by Julia Glass…Hello Hello is connected to a coffee shop. You can order a yummy drink and take it right into the store – the perfect combination!

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No visit to Maine would be complete without a visit to Freeport and the L.L. Bean Flagship store. I counted this stop as a bookstore visit because they sell a wide variety of outdoor guides at the store, but I bought boots – not books!

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Back at home, but lots of happy memories and new books!

My 50 Favorite Books


During our trip to Maine last week, we visited several independent bookstores in the mid-coast region, including hello hello books in Rockland, Maine. Nothing makes me happier than being in a good bookstore that is connected to a coffee shop, especially one that makes a yummy iced cold mocha. So, mocha in hand, I walked into hello hello books, and when I saw that they carry The Believer magazine, it was clear that we would not leave empty handed. One of the books we bought is Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America’s Indie Bookstores. Yes, it’s a book of lists, but with a twist. Read This! is a collection of favorite books by independent booksellers around the country.

It’s like visiting 25 bookstores and asking the knowledgeable booksellers: What do you recommend?  As Ann Patchett writes in the introduction, “There is no greater joy for a bookseller than introducing a reader to a book they will love for the rest of their lives. Those of us in this business are, after all, matchmakers by heart.”

Each list has 50 titles along with a few notes about the selections. The lists are a mix of adult and children’s titles. Novels primarily, but with some nonfiction and poetry included. It’s worth picking up and carrying along on your next trip to a library or bookstore.

Of course, I couldn’t resist the challenge. For the past few days, I’ve been compiling my list of favorite books. It’s harder than it sounds. First, committing favorites to a limited list necessitates leaving books off that I really love. Just because Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is not on this list, does not mean that I don’t love it with my whole heart and recommend it to lots of young people.

Here are the rules I set for myself: 

1. The list is all fiction. No poetry (leaving Jane Kenyon off was painful) and no nonfiction. So many good books – especially biography and memoirs – that are among the high points of my reading life, but for the purposes of this exercise – no go.

2. A book is a book. No categories of books for children and books for adults. I wrote down the 50 books I love the most. Period.

3. Except for the first two titles on my list, the books are not ranked. The “lower 48” are loved equally. The first two stand alone.

4. Two items are short stories. They deserve their spots among the novels here.

5. I was honest. The list is not edited. The books are all special for various reasons – the characters have taken up residence in my heart. It might have been tempting to list Moby Dick rather than The Velvet Room, an out-of-print children’s novel, but the truth is that Zilpha Keatley Snider’s book played an important part in my childhood.

Here’s my list:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

A Big Storm Knocked It Over by Laurie Colwin

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

The Three Questions by Jon Muth

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

The Giver by Lois Lowry

A Mere Interlude by Thomas Hardy

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Three Junes by Julia Glass

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan

The Velvet Room by Zilpha  Keatley Snyder

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly