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.