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A Few Ideas for Winter Reading

A Backyard Book of Spiders in Maine

by Dana Wilde, North Country Press, Unity, Maine. 2020. $26.95

From the origins of spider names to spider biology, this paperback guide is full of interesting facts about many of the spiders you are most likely to see in Maine (a group of spiders, by the way, is a gaggle and I hope I never see one). Once you get past the “eek” factor of all the close-up photos, Wilde’s book is both a great reference and an entertaining read.

Chickens, Gin, and a Maine Friendship, the Correspondence of E.B. White and Edmund Ware Smith

Down East Books. 2020. $24.95

Smith, known for his stories about hunting and fishing, was the editor of the Ford Times in Dearborn, Michigan, when the correspondence in this book begins. White was writing essays for the New Yorker and on occasion for Smith’s publication. Both had homes in and deep ties to Maine. The topics range from how to build a chicken house and other farm projects to health issues, and the joys and difficulties of living in Maine. Both men write with wry humor and affection; their pithy epistles make for entertaining reading, harking back to the days when people actually wrote letters instead of emails and tweets.

Of Watercraft Form and Function, a Biography of Naval Architect Geerd N. Hendel

by Roger A. Moody, Maine Authors Publishing, Thomaston, Maine. 2020. $37.95

Hendel may well be one of Maine’s most noteworthy but least well-known naval architects. During his more than 50-year career, he designed a wide range of boats, from working tugs and log haulers to yachts (including the Boothbay Harbor One-Design) and fishing vessels. Hendel worked for a number of different builders, starting as a draftsman at Bath Iron Works after immigrating from Germany and then for yacht designer Starling Burgess, and for Camden Shipbuilding, among others. Moody, who has written about Hendel for this magazine, has illustrated his book with many great photos, line drawings, and other material. It’s a must for anyone interested in boatbuilding and design.

On Harbor’s Edge: Book One 1912-1913

by Kate Hotchkiss, Maine Authors Publishing, Thomaston, Maine. 2020. $18.95

Described as the first installment in what will be a series about life in a fictional island fishing community, On Harbor’s Edge has drama, romance, and insight into life in a very small, isolated community.

Pirates and Lost Treasure of Coastal Maine

by Greg Latimer, The History Press, Charleston, NC. 2020. $21.99

Maine has never been known as a pirate haunt, and in any event the popular image of pirates as patch-wearing swashbucklers doesn’t bear much relation to reality. Latimer blends a bit of both, the myths and the actual tales of robbers on the high seas.

Rockland, Maine: Rise and Renewal

by John Bird, Rockland Historical Society, 2019. $54.95

Even if you don’t live in Rockland, this incredibly detailed history of the city from 1800 to today is a rich community portrait with stories about people, families, places and institutions. Understanding our past is an important part of shaping our future. This book goes a long way to showing, not telling, how communities evolve.

A History of the Point, The Colorful Past of Rockland, Maine

by Ann Morris, Lake Avenue Publishing Company, Rockland, Maine. 2020.  $15.00

Morris, the curator of the Rockland Historical Society, narrows the focus on community in Rockland to a small area, the point of land along Tillson Avenue, now occupied by mostly industrial users, including Journey’s End, the Coast Guard, and FMC. Back in the 1800s it was a bustling residential area and the place where all the ferries landed. Like Bird in his history, Morris includes stories about people and families and explains how the area evolved.

Whaling in Maine

by Charles H. Lagerbom, The History Press, Charleston, NC. 2020. $21.99

Maine is not a state that comes to mind when you talk about whaling in the 19th century, but Lagerbom in this extensively researched book makes the case that in actuality Maine was very involved, in building ships, providing crew, provisioning whalers and even in limited processing, mostly of carcasses that washed ashore. At one point in 1831, for instance, a Waldo County man had a contract to provide all the oars used by whalers in New Bedford and New London. Dubbed the oar king, he fashioned oars by hand from local ash. The book is full of interesting details like that and will make good winter fireside reading.


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