The 100 Books Every Lover of Maine Should Read

Novels to memoirs, kids' books to cookbooks.

100 Maine books
Photo by Mark Fleming

Maine’s literary heritage runs as deep as its coastal waters, as broad as its sweeping woodlands. From the narrative histories of the Wabanaki to the dialect stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, from the gothic novels of Sally Wood to the fantastic worlds of Stephen King, from the essays of E. B. White to . . . well, the children’s books of E. B. White, there isn’t a genre that Mainers haven’t left their mark on. 

The books that follow are Maine books, which is to say they’re set in Maine or otherwise concern it. (There are plenty of good books by Maine authors on non-Maine topics, but they’ll have to go get their own magazine feature.) These are the books we’d include on the Maine Studies syllabus, the ones we’d stow on the interstellar spacecraft so the aliens could come to know the Down East culture and character. They’re the books we would want on our desert isle, assuming we were marooned with a fairly sizeable trunk.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and we fully expect our highly literate audience to quibble with our picks. But every book on the following pages will add to your appreciation and understanding of the Pine Tree State. Every one proves Stephen King’s assertion that “books are a uniquely portable magic.” Every one lends credence to E. B. White’s suggestion that “books are people.” And every one fulfills the mandate of Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius, helping to make the world more beautiful. 

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The Down East Maine Canon

Click a title to read more.

Adventures in Comfort Food, Kerry Altiero with Katherine Gaudet (2014)

Almost Midnight, Paul Doiron (2019)

Arundel, Kenneth Roberts (1929)

Away From It All, Dorothy Boone Kidney (1969)

Bag of Bones, Stephen King (1998)

The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Carolyn Chute (1985)

Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey (1948)

Bright Island, Mabel L. 
Robinson (1937)

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout (2014)

Carrie, Stephen King (1974)

Cell, Stephen King (2006)

Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White (1952)

The Children of the Night, Edwin Arlington Robinson (1897)

The Cider House Rules, John Irving (1997)

The Circus Ship, Chris Van Dusen (2009)

Cold as a Dog and the Wind Northeast, Ruth Moore (1958)

Come Spring, Ben Ames 
Williams (1940)

Confluence: Merrymeeting Bay, Franklin 
Burroughs (2006)

Cooking Down East, Marjorie Standish (1969)

The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett (1896)

Cujo, Stephen King (1981)

The Dark Half, Stephen King (1990)

The Dead Zone, Stephen King (1979)

Deephaven, Sarah Orne Jewett (1877)

Different Seasons, Stephen King (1982)

Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King (1993)

Dreamcatcher, Stephen King (2001)

The Edge of the Sea, Rachel Carson (1955)

Edinburgh, Alexander Chee (2002)

Empire Falls, Richard Russo (2002)

Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood (2004)

Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm, Annemarie Ahearn (2017)

The Funeral Makers, Cathie Pelletier (1986)

The Good Life, Helen Nearing and Scott Nearing (1990)

A Handful of Stars, Cynthia Lord (2015)

A Handmade Life, William S. Coperthwaite (2003)

High Tide at Noon, Elisabeth Ogilvie (1944)

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, Rachel Field (1929)

In Search of L.L. Bean, M. R. Montgomery (1984)

The In-Betweens, Mira Ptacin (2019)

The Institute, Stephen King (2019)

Island Boy, Barbara Cooney (1988)

An Island Garden, Celia 
Laighton Thaxter (1988)

Islands in Time, Philip 
Conkling (1981)

It, Stephen King (1986)

Katahdin: An Historic Journey, John Neff (2006)

Leave Her to Heaven, Ben Ames Williams (1944)

The Life and Traditions of the Red Man, Joseph Nicolar (1893)

The Little Fisherman, Margaret Wise Brown (1945)

The Little Island, Margaret Wise Brown (1946)

The Lobster Chronicles, Linda Greenlaw (2002)

Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life, Charles C. Calhoun (2004)

The Lost Kitchen, Erin French (2017)

Lost on a Mountain in Maine, Donn Fendler (1939)

Maine, Eliot Porter (1990)

Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan (2011)

Maine’s Golden Road, John Gould (1995)

Maine: The Seasons, Terrell S. Lester (2001)

The Maine Woods, Henry David Thoreau (1864)

Mary’s Neck, Booth Tarkington (1932)

Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney (1982)

The Mist, Stephen King (1980)

My World Is an Island
Elisabeth Ogilvie (1950)

Needful Things, Stephen King (1991)

Night Train at Wiscasset 
Station
, Kosti Ruohomaa and Lew Dietz (1977)

Northern Farm, Henry Beston (1972)

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (2008)

One Goal, Amy Bass (2018)

One Man’s Meat, E.B. White (1942)

One Morning in Maine, Robert McCloskey (1952)

Papa Martel, Gérard 
Robichaud (1961)

The Pearl of Orr’s Island, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1896)

Penobscot Man, Frank G. Speck (1940)

Pet Sematary, Stephen King (1983)

Random Acts, Gerry Boyle (2019)

Renascence and Other Poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay (1917)

’Salem’s Lot, Stephen King (1975)

A Seal Called Andre
Lew Dietz and Harry Goodridge (1975)

Sealed Off, Barbara Ross (2019)

Sightings, Peter Ralston (1991)

The Sign of the Beaver
Elizabeth George Speare (1983)

Silas Crockett, Mary Ellen Chase (1935)

Spoonhandle, Ruth Moore (1946)

State O’Maine, Louise 
Dickinson Rich (1964)

The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel (2017)

A Summer Place, Sloan Wilson (1958)

The Survival of the Bark Canoe, John McPhee (1975)

Take Heart: Poems from Maine, Wesley McNair (2013)

Tales of the Night, Sally Wood (1827)

The Tommyknockers, Stephen King (1987)

Under the Dome, Stephen King (2009)

Vacationland, John Hodgman (2017)

The Way Life Should Be, Christina Baker Kline (2007)

We Took to the Woods, Louise Dickinson Rich (1942)

We Were an Island, Peter P. Blanchard III (2010)

When We Were the Kennedys, Monica Wood (2012)

Where the Deer Were, Kate Barnes (1994)

The Wildest Country, J. Parker Huber (1981)

Within Plain Sight, Bruce Robert Coffin (2020)

The Woman in the Woods, John Connolly (2018)

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June 2020 issue