2018 Audie Award Finalists


2018 Audie Award Finalists Announced

Do you like to listen to your books?  If so, you are in for a treat by checking out some of the best Audio Books available in 2018.  If we don’t have them here at the library we can help you get them from other Minerva libraries, MaineCat libraries or we can even search far and wide and get them from another library in a different state!  Just the other day we got a book for someone from Salt Lake City Library in Utah.  Of course, you can also look on the cloudLibrary for downloadable books but usually the newest ones have long waitlists so getting them as books on CD might be your best bet.

The Audio Publisher’s Association has announced the nominees for the 2018 Audie Awards, honoring excellence in audiobooks and spoken entertainment. Winners will be announced at the Audies Gala at the New York Historical Society on May 31.


 An Almond for a Parrot, by Wray Delaney, narrated by Rachel Atkins, published by Harlequin Audio

Beartown, by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, narrated by Cathleen McCarron, published by Penguin Audio

I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi, narrated by Susan Bennett, Dan Bittner, and Therese Plummer, published by Macmillan Audio

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson, by Nancy Peacock, narrated by JD Jackson, published by HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See, narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, et al., published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Literary Fiction and Classics

Beast, by Paul Kingsnorth, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Daisy Miller, by Henry James, narrated by Kitty Hendrix, published by Spoken Realms

Dracula, by Bram Stoker, narrated by Nick Sandys, published by Brilliance Publishing

The Handmaid’s Tale: Special Edition, by Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin, narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios

House of Names, by Colm Toibin, narrated by Juliet Stevenson, et al., published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Phineas Finn, by Anthony Trollope, narrated by David Shaw-Parker, published by Naxos


The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, by David Lagercrantz, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Random House Audio

Glass Houses, by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, narrated by Samantha Bond, published by HarperAudio

On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, by Rhys Bowen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, published by Audible Studios

Telling Tales, by Ann Cleeves, narrated by Julia Franklin, published by Macmillan Audio

Audio Drama

Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi, by Paul McCusker, narrated by Joseph Timms, Owen Teale, and Geoffrey Palmer, published by Augustine Institute

Cicero, by David Llewellyn, narrated by Samuel Barnett and George Naylor, published by Big Finish Productions

The Mean, written and narrated by John Arthur Long, published by Blackstone Audio

Treasure Island: An Audible Original Drama, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Marty Ross, narrated by Philip Glenister, Daniel Mays, Catherine Tate, Owen Teale, and Gerran Howell, published by Audible Studios

The Tug of War, by David Rambo, narrated by Matthew Arkin, Hugo Armstrong, Seamus Dever, Matthew Floyd Miller, James Morrison, David Selby, Rich Sommer, Josh Stamberg, Nick Toren, John Vickery, and Jules Willcox, published by LA Theatre Works

Narration by the Author or Authors

 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, written and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, published by Blackstone Audio

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, written and narrated by Trevor Noah, published by Audible Studios

Nikki Giovanni: Love Poems & a Good Cry, written and narrated by Nikki Giovanni, published by HarperAudio

Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, published by HarperAudio

This Fight Is Our Fight, written and narrated by Elizabeth Warren, published by Macmillan Audio

Best Female Narrator

 The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, published by HarperAudio

Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, narrated by Rachel McAdams, published by Audible Studios

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by HarperAudio

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, by Jennifer Lynch, narrated by Sheryl Lee, published by Audible Studios

The Stone Sky, by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Hachette Audio

Best Male Narrator

 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, written and narrated by Trevor Noah, published by Audible Studios

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee, narrated by Christian Coulson, published by HarperAudio

Glass Houses, by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio

Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, published by HarperAudio

Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle and Stephen Fry, narrated by Stephen Fry, published by Audible Studios

History / Biography

 Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud, by Shaun Considine, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Graymalkin Media

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope, by Wendy Holden, narrated by Elizabeth Wiley, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Code Girls, by Liza Mundy, narrated by Erin Bennett, published by Hachette Audio

The Home Front: Life in America During World War II, narrated by Martin Sheen, published by Audible Originals

Loving vs. Virginia, by Patricia Hruby Powell, narrated by Adenrele Ojo and MacLeod Andrews, published by Dreamscape Media

My Life, My Love, My Legacy, by Coretta Scott King as told to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, narrated by Phylicia Rashad and January LaVoy, published by Macmillan Audio


American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, by Nate Blakeslee, narrated by Mark Bramhall, published by Random House Audio

The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson, written and narrated by Jon Ronson, published by Audible Originals

Ghosts of the Tsunami, by Richard Lloyd Parry, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Macmillan Audio

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, narrated by Kimberly Farr, published by Random House Audio

This Fight Is Our Fight, written and narrated by Elizabeth Warren, published by Macmillan Audio

Business / Personal Development

 Do More Great Work, by Michael Bungay Stanier, narrated by Daniel Maté, published by Post Hypnotic Press, Inc.

Getting There: A Book of Mentors, by Gillian Zoe Segal, narrated by Jorjeana Marie, Rene Ruiz, and Alex Hyde-White, published by Novel Audio

How to Work for an Idiot (Revised and Expanded with More Idiots, More Insanity, and More Incompetency): Survive and Thrive Without Killing Your Boss, by John Hoover, narrated by Brian Sutherland, published by Audible Studios

Peak Performance, by Brad Stullberg and Steve Magness, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing

Unfu*k Yourself, written and narrated by Gary John Bishop, published by HarperAudio


 Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence, narrated by Heather O’Neil, published by Recorded Books

The Refrigerator Monologues, by Catherynne M. Valente, narrated by Karis A. Campbell, published by HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Skullsworn, by Brian Stavely, narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden, published by Brilliance Publishing

Snake Eyes, by John Conroe, narrated by James Patrick Cronin, published by Audible Studios

Spellmonger, by Terry Mancour, narrated by John Lee, published by Podium Publishing

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading, published by Simon & Schuster Audio



Book recommendations from across the pond…BBC 2018 choices

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (January, Harvill Secker)

Transport yourself with a sumptuous, mysterious story set in Georgian London. It starts in September 1785 when merchant Jonah Hancock finds one of his merchants at his door – saying that he’s exchanged Jonah’s ship… for what appears to be a mermaid. (Just an everyday, run-of-the-mill swap, then.) Everyone wants to see this creature and Jonah finds himself thrust into the whirl of high society, where he meets courtesan Angelica Neal. But how will the mermaid affect their life together?


The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (Harper Collins, January) 

An alcoholic unreliable narrator sees a crime being committed – or does she? If you think the premise sounds familiar, well, in some ways it does. But Anna, like a modern-day Lady of Shallott, is confined to her home by agoraphobia and has been for 10 months, giving a new twist in this tense thriller. Fun fact – AJ Finn is actually the pen name of publishing executive Dan Mallory, who submitted the manuscript under the pseudonym.


Lullaby by Leila Slimani (Faber & Faber, January) 

Originally published in French as Chanson Douce and already a bestseller, Lullaby opens with a couple returning home to find their nanny has murdered their children. Louise had seemed like the perfect nanny when Myriam and her husband Paul hired her to care for their children in their Paris apartment. But that turns out not to be the case. Lullaby explores the relationship between the couple and their nanny – but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted.


Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (January, Bantam Press)

Thrillers don’t get much more twisty and turny than this one. Vivian Miller works for the CIA, rooting out Russian agents. So it’s a slight problem then when she uncovers a network – and sees the photograph of someone very, very familiar to her looking back. With the safety of her three young children at stake, she’s got to make some life-changing decisions. If you don’t mind staying up reading til 3am, this is the one for you.




Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit (Orion, January) 

Imagine knowing you have a stalker – and the problem being that they live in the flat underneath yours. That’s the premise of Dirk Kurbjuweit’s chilling novel, loosely based on the real-life experience he and his family suffered. The neighbour leaves notes under their door, puts a ladder under their window to spy on them and posts notes on a communal board, leading Randolph to conclude there’s only one way out of the situation. A claustrophobic and unsettling read.


The Last Romeo by Justin Myers (Little Brown, February) 

All James wants to do is find The One – but as anyone dating in 2018 knows, that’s easier said than done. His long-term relationship with Adam has come to an end and his best friend is moving to Russia. But before she goes, she urges James to set up a dating blog (much like the author Justin Myers did himself – you might know him as The Guyliner) – and when he dates an Olympian, he finds himself going viral.




Educated by Tara Westover (Random House, February)

This memoir is a dazzling example of what you can achieve if you set your mind to something. Tara was raised in a survivalist family in Idaho and taught to prepare for the End of Days. Isolated from society, she wasn’t even allowed to seek medical treatment if she needed it. She spent her days stewing herbs for her healer mother or salvaging metal. The first time she set foot in a classroom was at the age of 17 – and yet 10 years later, she had a PhD from Cambridge. Tara’s story is an inspirational, truly unique coming-of-age tale.



The Lido by Libby Page (Orion, April) 

Debut author Libby Page has turned her love of swimming into a novel centred around London’s Brockwell Lido – and the unlikely friendship that forms between two women who try to save it. Young journalist Kate is lonely and unhappy when she is sent to interview 86-year-old Rosemary, who swims there every day and doesn’t want developers getting their hands on it. But far from it being a straightforward assignment, it ends up changing her life for the better.

It’s already been lined up to make a splash at the cinema too, with a film version in the pipeline.


Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce (Picador, April) 

Having a feel-good war-time novel may seem like a contradiction – but that’s exactly what AJ Pearce has pulled off here. Emmeline Lake is a budding journalist in London in 1940 who gets a job typing up letters for an agony aunt (not quite the war correspondent role she’s been after). When Mrs Bird refuses to reply to any containing “unpleasantness”, Emmie decides to do just that herself. This is AJ Pearce’s first novel, and she was inspired by discovering a 1939 women’s magazine.


(Picador, April)

This tells the true story of freelance writer Rebecca, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s. Two years later, and after months of treatment, she discovered a love of gliding. It took her around the world, from Wales’ Black Mountains to New Zealand’s Southern Alps. She started to write about her new passion, and the history of gliding – the result is Skybound. Sadly she became ill just as she was finishing the book, and died in September 2016.



Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene (Fourth Estate, July)

The self-declared Black Girl Bible takes the form of a series of interviews from leading black women who have succeeded in a variety of fields – including director Amma Asante and author Malorie Blackman. Best friends Yomi and Elizabeth decided to write the book because they realised there was a huge gap in the market – these were the stories they wanted to read about, so they decided to write it themselves. They also scatter in anecdotes from their own lives in their bid to tackle the challenges facing black women today, and plenty of advice.




There are many books from established authors to look forward to in the new year too. Anne Tyler‘s Clock Dance (Chatto and Windus, August) is about a woman who uproots her life to help her son’s ex-girlfriend after she is shot. Kate Mossebrings us The Burning Chambers (Mantle, May) – the first instalment of a trilogy spanning three decades, based around the French Wars of Religion.

Kate Atkinson‘s Transcription (Doubleday, September) tells the tale of a young woman recruited to the secret service during the war – and how her life unravels when she then joins the BBC when the war is over. Jim Crace brings us his new work The Melody in February (Picador), the story of a renowned musician attacked in his home by who he describes as an “innocent and wild” child.

There’s also a new novel from Julian Barnes, with The Only Story, out in February (Jonathan Cape).

Sophie Kinsella fans will rejoice at the release of Surprise Me (February, Bantam) about a couple who find out at a health check that they could have another 68 years together – so they set out to, you guessed it, surprise each other to keep the spark alive.

Crime writer Jeffery Deaver also releases his latest book, The Cutting Edge (Hodder & Stoughton), in May.

Lovers of short stories also have Curtis Sittenfeld‘s first collection in that genre to look forward to, with You Think It, I’ll Say It (Random House, April). Then there’s Rose McGowan‘s memoir Brave (HarperCollins, January) – about being born into a cult and then living in the cult of Hollywood.

And, marking the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote, Helen Pankhurst – the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst – brings us Deeds Not Words (Hodder & Stoughton, February). It looks at how women’s rights have changed over 100 years, and how far there is still to go.


NPR’s Best Books of 2017 Guide

NPR’s long awaited picks for the year 2017.  Surely something for everyone!


NPR’s Book Concierge

Our Guide To 2017’s Great Reads


What the library staff is reading: as we end summer and start autumn.

Janet: “The Mighty Currwongs & other stories” by Brian Doyle.

            I was drawn to reading this book for two reasons: Kate recommended it to me AND the description of the back included these words – “A nimble and very funny collection.” Who would not want to read a book described as nimble!?! I have since finished this book and very highly recommend it. I’m not usually one to read short stories but the writing in this book is superb, humorous, and serious all at the same time. Some of the stories are only 2 pages long but each one delivers satisfaction.


Kate: “The Warden’s Daughter” by Jerry Spinelli.

I have known about this author, but never got a feel for his writing. This book has an interesting premise: a girl living with her father, the warden above a prison, in the 1950s.





Amanda: “Restart” by Gordon Korman.

This juvenile novel takes a fresh look at the heated and ever-present topic of bullying from a fresh perspective: that of the bully. This middle-school football star suffers from a concussion and loses his memory. He is ordered not to play sports and begins to make new friends and develop other aspects of himself while slowly beginning to realize what kind of a person he had been. The shock of the staff, students and his aggressive father (who had been a football start when HE had attended the same school) as the former bully becomes a “new person” will have certain readers feeling a bit more humanity for their own tormentors.


Vesta: “Orfeo” by Richard Powers.

My book club’s next selection. It is well written and well read—I’m reading the audio version—and has a great deal of interest for anyone who appreciates classical music.





Vesta: “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish.
A long book that I found recommended on a list I trust, and one that grabbed me from the first page, when a soon-to-retire college professor is asked to look at some Shakespearean-era Hebrew manuscripts that were found when a 17th century house was being renovated. Beautifully written, with two stories from two eras working well together.



Vesta: “The Flight” by Dan Hampton

Recommended on one of the lists I regularly consult — takes the reader into the cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis with Charles Lindbergh during his historic flight. Based on his own words and memories, it’s very real and exciting and informative as it conveys the difficulties of Lindbergh’s remarkable solo flight.




MaryAnne: “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng.

I was drawn to it because it was recommended by a patron who has similar “book tastes” to mine. The New York Times Book Review says it well: “[A] strong quiet novel [of] eloquent mystery.” I was hooked right away!






Candy: “The Boleyn Inheritance” by Phillipa Gregory.

I loved “The Other Boleyn Girl” and wanted to read more about this era. Gregory does a fine job of blending fact with fiction. It’s a fun way to step into history.





Henry: “The Best Stories of William Kittredge”

I am rereading this collection because decades after I first read them, they still haunt me. And because he writes about the Rockies where I lived for a long time.






Susan: “The Ballad of the Broken Nose” by Arne Svingen

I really liked this book. A few chapters in and I was hooked on this unusual kid with a big voice and bigger problems. It was originally published in Norway in 2012 with this English edition published in 2016. The voice and tone are just a touch different, which adds to its charm. A middle school boy with a loving but dysfunctional Mom has to manage everything himself while trying to learn boxing when what he really wants to do is sing opera; but only in the bathroom. Hiding his talent all goes awry when he meets a girl who shows genuine interest but can’t keep a secret. It’s funny, sweet, and completely engaging.


I put little reviews of the books I’ve read on “Miss Susan’s Book Notes” which can be found on the Children’s page of the library website (see the pull-down menu under KIDS”)

Elisabeth Ogilvie’s Tide Trilogy

Biographical Note: Elisabeth Ogilvie was born in Boston on May 20, 1917, to Frank and Maude Ogilvie. She was raised in Dorchester and Wollaston, Massachusetts, summering on the island of Criehaven in Maine. The family spent nearly every summer in Maine, which would make a strong impression on Elisabeth as she grew up. Her childhood was happy and creative, as she was involved with both ballet and Scottish Highland dancing. Her family’s love of words was also very influential in shaping Elisabeth’s career. Her mother Maude wrote for her school magazine, and later for the Boston Post. Her brothers enjoyed writing plays and poetry, and her father was a voracious reader.

Even though Elisabeth loved to make up stories, her true passion for writing did not fully emerge until her English classes with Frank Smoyer at North Quincy High School. He encouraged Elisabeth to write for the school’s literary magazine, The Manet. After her first story was published in the journal, she wrote a new piece every two weeks, and continued to contribute works to The Manet from eighth grade through her senior year. Elisabeth graduated at the height of the Depression, so a college education was not an option. She was determined, however, to improve herself as a writer, so she enrolled in a “Writing for Publication” course at Harvard University in 1936. Shortly thereafter, her first story was published in a Massachusetts newspaper Sunday supplement. Her instructor, Donald MacCampbell, became a staunch supporter, and offered to be her agent when the course ended. Elisabeth’s stories were published in several publications, such as Woman’s Day, Redbook, and Good Housekeeping.

In 1944, she published her first novel, High Tide at Noon, about a lobstering family who lived on fictional Bennett’s Island. Shortly after she moved to Cushing, Maine, and wintered in a farmhouse – called Tide’s Way – on 33 acres on Gay’s Island where she lived with longtime companion (and another Maine writer) Dorothy Simpson for fifty years. Dorothy and her husband, Guy, were great friends to Elisabeth, and often gave her advice and inspiration for her writings.

With the critical and public success of High Tide at Noon, it did not take long for Elisabeth to write the second installment, Storm Tide (1945), which won the New England Press Association Award for Best Novel in 1945 and the Northeast Woman’s Press Association Award in 1946. The Bennett’s Island series eventually grew to include eight books, the last in the series, The Day Before Winter, being published in 1997. She wrote 46 adult, young adult, and children’s books.

Though most of her novels are set in Maine, her Jennie Glenroy series is set in Scotland, the place she called her second favorite after Maine, to which she traveled extensively throughout her life. Elisabeth also wrote several mystery and suspense novels, including No Evil Angel (1956) and The Devil in Tartan (1980), as well as historical fiction. She became involved with several writers organizations, such as the Authors Guild and Mystery Writers of America, as well as lecturing at schools, libraries, and professional organizations, like Maine Media Women.

Elisabeth garnered many fans throughout her long career for her rich descriptions of setting, heartwarming storylines, and great attention to characterization. She died in 2006 on the ninth of September.

Maine Library Patrons Want to Read…

Enjoy seeing what your fellow Mainers wish to read (or listen to) the most!

Each month Josh Tiffany, the librarian at the Gray Library creates a High Demand Hold List from the Minerva Catalog requests.


1)      The Stars Are Fire (Shreve) – 245 holds on 45 items

2)      The Stranger in the Woods (Finkel) – 219 holds on 65 items

3)      Anything is Possible (Strout) – 147 holds on 40 items

4)      A Piece of the World (Kline) – 144 holds on 56 items

5)      The Fix (Baldacci) – 140 holds on 44 items

6)      The Black Book (Patterson) – 100 holds on 38 items

7)      Golden Prey (Sandford) – 96 holds on 33 items

8)      Into the Water (Hawkins) – 95 holds on 13 items

9)      16th Seduction (Patterson) – 94 holds on 26 items

10)   The Women in the Castle (Shattuck) – 67 holds on 33 items

11)   Option B (Sandberg) – 43 holds on 7 items

12)   Shattered: Inside Hilary Clinton’s Doom Campaign – 41 holds on 1 item

13)   Against All Odds (Steel) – 40 holds on 15 items

14)   Robert B Parker’s Little White Lies (Atkins) – 38 holds on 7 items

15)   The Dark Prophecy (Riordan) – 29 holds on 7 items

16)   Old School: Life in the Sane Lane (O’Reilly) – 26 holds on 9 items

17)   Prince Charles (Smith) – 20 holds on 7 items

18)   Less Than Treason (Stabenow) – 17 holds on 8 items

19)   Radium Girls (Moore) – 17 holds on 4 items

20)   Slow Horses (Herron) – 17 holds on 1 item


1)      The Stars are Fire (Shreve) – 37 holds on 13 items

2)      The Fix (Baldacci) – 16 holds on 5 items

3)      The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood) – 14 holds on 5 items

4)      The Black Book (Patterson) – 13 holds on 5 items

5)      Golden Prey (Sandford) – 12 holds on 5 items

6)      Beartown (Backman) – 10 holds on 5 items

7)      Bone Box (Kellerman) – 8 holds on 3 items

8)      Fast and Loose (Woods) – 8 holds on 2 items

9)      One Perfect Lie (Scottoline) – 7 holds on 3 items

10)   Unshakeable (Robbins) – 6 holds on 1 item

Graphic Novels

1)      My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Ferris) – 16 holds on 3 items

2)      Valerian: The New Future Trilogy – 4 holds on 1 item

3)      Avengers vs. X-Men – 3 holds on 1 item

4)      Nightwing: Vol 1 – 3 holds on 1 item

5)      Deadpool vol. 4 – 2 holds on 1 item

6)      Deadpool vol. 5 – 2 holds on 1 item

7)      Rising of the Shield Hero – 2 holds on 1 item

8)      Suicide Squad vol. 1 – 2 holds on 1 item

9)      Supergirl vol.1 – 2 holds on 1 item

10)   Supergirl vol. 2 – 2 holds on 1 item

2016 Maine Literary Awards Winners

2016 Maine Literary Awards Winners

In 2016, nearly one hundred and forty books were entered across the award’s categories; compare that to the 2011 awards when seventy books total were submitted. In addition, more than one hundred manuscripts were submitted into the award’s Short Works Competition, and nearly sixty Maine students submitted work in the same categories in the award’s Youth Competition.

Book Award for Fiction
Closer All the Time by Jim Nichols

Book Award for Crime Fiction
An Unbeaten Man by Brendan Rielly


Book Award for Speculative Fiction
The Realm of Misplaced Hearts by Rick Hobbs

Book Award for Nonfiction
Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

Book Award for Memoir
How to Cook a Moose by Kate Christensen




Book Award for Poetry
Little Arias by Kristen Case

Book Award for Young People’s Literature
Either the Beginning or the End of the World by Terry Farish



Book Award for Children’s
The Lemonade Hurricane by Licia Morelli (Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris)

Book Award for Anthology (Editors)
A Gateless Garden by Liza Bakewell


John N. Cole Award for Maine-themed Nonfiction
Ghost Buck by Dean Bennett




Excellence in Publishing
Historical Atlas of Maine

by Stephen J. Hornsby & Richard W. Judd

(University of Maine Press)




BOOKS: President Obama’s Secret Survival Strategy


President Obama in the Oval Office in 2012. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

President Obama in the Oval Office in 2012. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

On January 16, 2017 there appeared in the New York Times two articles giving us insight as to how important books and reading have been to the 44th President of the United States.  Here’s a link to the article and the text of the interview transcript when Michiko Kakutani interviewed him in person.  President recently gave one of his daughter’s a Kindle pre-loaded with books he felt were of great importance for her to read.

Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books


President Obama in the Oval Office on Friday during an interview with Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic for The New York Times. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama in the Oval Office on Friday during an interview with Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic for The New York Times. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times


Transcript: President Obama on What Books Mean to Him

Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic for The New York Times, interviewed President Obama about literature on Friday at the White House. Here are excerpts from the conversation, which have been edited and condensed.

These books that you gave to your daughter Malia on the Kindle, what were they? Some of your favorites?

I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects, so “The Naked and the Dead” or “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” I think she hadn’t read yet.

Then there were some books I think that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting, like “The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing, for example. Or “The Woman Warrior,” by Maxine [Hong Kingston].

Part of what was interesting was me pulling back books that I thought were really powerful, but that might not surface when she goes to college.

Have you had a chance to discuss them with her?

I’ve had the chance to discuss some. And she’s interested in being a filmmaker, so storytelling is of great interest to her. She had just read “A Moveable Feast.” I hadn’t included that, and she was just captivated by the idea that Hemingway described his goal of writing one true thing every day.

What made you want to become a writer?

I loved reading when I was a kid, partly because I was traveling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider. When I first moved to Indonesia, I’m this big, dark-skinned kid that kind of stood out. And then when I moved back from Indonesia to Hawaii, I had the manners and habits probably of an Indonesian kid.

And so the idea of having these worlds that were portable, that were yours, that you could enter into, was appealing to me. And then I became a teenager and wasn’t reading that much other than what was assigned in school, and playing basketball and chasing girls, and imbibing things that weren’t very healthy.

I think all of us did.

Yeah. And then I think rediscovered writing and reading and thinking in my first or second year of college and used that as a way to rebuild myself, a process I write about in “Dreams From My Father.”

That period in New York, where you were intensely reading.

I was hermetic — it really is true. I had one plate, one towel, and I’d buy clothes from thrift shops. And I was very intense, and sort of humorless. But it reintroduced me to the power of words as a way to figure out who you are and what you think, and what you believe, and what’s important, and to sort through and interpret this swirl of events that is happening around you every minute.

And so even though by the time I graduated I knew I wanted to be involved in public policy, or I had these vague notions of organizing, the idea of continuing to write and tell stories as part of that was valuable to me. And so I would come home from work, and I would write in my journal or write a story or two.

The great thing was that it was useful in my organizing work. Because when I got there, the guy who had hired me said that the thing that brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives is not just that they care about the same issue, it’s that they have shared stories. And he told me that if you learn how to listen to people’s stories and can find what’s sacred in other people’s stories, then you’ll be able to forge a relationship that lasts.

But my interest in public service and politics then merged with the idea of storytelling.

What were your short stories like?

It’s interesting, when I read them, a lot of them had to do with older people.

I think part of the reason was because I was working in communities with people who were significantly older than me. We were going into churches, and probably the average age of these folks was 55, 60. A lot of them had scratched and clawed their way into the middle class, but just barely. They were seeing the communities in which they had invested their hopes and dreams and raised their kids starting to decay — steel mills had closed, and there had been a lot of racial turnover in these communities. And so there was also this sense of loss and disappointment.

And so a bunch of the short stories I wrote had to do with that sense, that atmosphere. One story is about an old black pastor who seems to be about to lose his church, his lease is running out and he’s got this loyal woman deacon who is trying to buck him up. Another is about an elderly couple — a white couple in L.A., — and he’s like in advertising, wrote jingles. And he’s just retired and has gotten cranky. And his wife is trying to convince him that his life is not over.

So when I think back on what’s interesting to me, there is not a lot of Jack Kerouac, open-road, young kid on the make discovering stuff. It’s more melancholy and reflective.

Was writing partly a way to figure out your identity?

Yes, I think so. For me, particularly at that time, writing was the way I sorted through a lot of crosscurrents in my life — race, class, family. And I genuinely believe that it was part of the way in which I was able to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole.

People now remark on this notion of me being very cool, or composed. And what is true is that I generally have a pretty good sense of place and who I am, and what’s important to me. And I trace a lot of that back to that process of writing.

Has that continued to be so in the presidency?

Not as much as I would have liked. I just didn’t have time.

But you keep some form of a journal?

I’ve kept some, but not with the sort of discipline that I would have hoped for. The main writing that I’ve done during the presidency has been my speeches, the ones at least that were important to me.

How has the speechwriting and being at the center of history and dealing with crises affected you as a writer?

I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to see when I start writing the next book. Some of the craft of writing a good speech is identical to any other good writing: Is that word necessary? Is it the right word? Is there a rhythm to it that feels good? How does it sound aloud?

I actually think that one of the useful things about speechwriting is reminding yourself that the original words are spoken, and that there is a sound, a feel to words that, even if you’re reading silently, transmits itself.

So in that sense, I think there will be some consistency.

But this is part of why it was important to pick up the occasional novel during the presidency, because most of my reading every day was briefing books and memos and proposals. And so working that very analytical side of the brain all the time sometimes meant you lost track of not just the poetry of fiction, but also the depth of fiction.

Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.

Are there examples of specific novels or writers?

Well, the last novel I read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” And the reminder of the ways in which the pain of slavery transmits itself across generations, not just in overt ways, but how it changes minds and hearts.

It’s what you said in your farewell address about Atticus Finch, where you said people are so isolated in their little bubbles. Fiction can leap —

It bridges them. I struck up a friendship with [the novelist] Marilynne Robinson, who has become a good friend. And we’ve become sort of pen pals. I started reading her in Iowa, where “Gilead” and some of her best novels are set. And I loved her writing in part because I saw those people every day. And the interior life she was describing that connected them — the people I was shaking hands with and making speeches to — it connected them with my grandparents, who were from Kansas and ended up journeying all the way to Hawaii, but whose foundation had been set in a very similar setting.

And so I think that I found myself better able to imagine what’s going on in the lives of people throughout my presidency because of not just a specific novel but the act of reading fiction. It exercises those muscles, and I think that has been helpful.

And then there’s been the occasion where I just want to get out of my own head. [Laughter] Sometimes you read fiction just because you want to be someplace else.

What are some of those books?

It’s interesting, the stuff I read just to escape ends up being a mix of things — some science fiction. For a while, there was a three-volume science-fiction novel, the “Three-Body Problem” series —

Oh, Liu Cixin, who won the Hugo Award.

— which was just wildly imaginative, really interesting. It wasn’t so much sort of character studies as it was just this sweeping —

It’s really about the fate of the universe.

Exactly. The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade. [Laughter]

There were books that would blend, I think, really good writing with thriller genres. I mean, I thought “Gone Girl” was a well-constructed, well-written book.

I loved that structure.

Yeah, and it was really well executed. And a similar structure, that I thought was a really powerful novel: “Fates and Furies,” by Lauren Groff.

I like those structures where you actually see different points of view.

Which I have to do for this job, too. [Laughter]

Have there been certain books that have been touchstones for you in these eight years?

I would say Shakespeare continues to be a touchstone. Like most teenagers in high school, when we were assigned, I don’t know, “The Tempest” or something, I thought, ‘My God, this is boring.’ And I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them. And that, I think, is foundational for me in understanding how certain patterns repeat themselves and play themselves out between human beings.

Is that sort of comforting?

It gives me a sense of perspective. I think Toni Morrison’s writings — particularly “Song of Solomon” is a book I think of when I imagine people going through hardship. That it’s not just pain, but there’s joy and glory and mystery.

I think that there are writers who I don’t necessarily agree with in terms of their politics, but whose writings are sort of a baseline for how to think about certain things — V. S. Naipaul, for example. His “A Bend in the River,” which starts with the line, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” And I always think about that line, and I think about his novels when I’m thinking about the hardness of the world sometimes, particularly in foreign policy, and I resist and fight against sometimes that very cynical, more realistic view of the world. And yet, there are times where it feels as if that may be true.

So in that sense, I’m using writing like that as a foil or something to debate against.

I’ve read that Lincoln loved Shakespeare his whole life, but when he was dealing with the Civil War, reading the history plays helped give him solace and perspective.

Lincoln’s own writings do that. He is a very fine writer.

I’d put the Second Inaugural up against any piece of American writing — as good as anything. One of the great treats of being president is, in the Lincoln Bedroom, there’s a copy of the Gettysburg Address handwritten by him, one of five copies he did for charity. And there have been times in the evening when I’d just walk over, because it’s right next to my office, my home office, and I just read it.

And perspective is exactly what is wanted. At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted, the ability to slow down and get perspective, along with the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes — those two things have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president, I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.

Is there some poem or any writing or author that you would turn to, say, after the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., or during the financial crisis?

I think that during those periods, Lincoln’s writings, King’s writings, Gandhi’s writings, Mandela’s writings — I found those particularly helpful, because what you wanted was a sense of solidarity. During very difficult moments, this job can be very isolating. So sometimes you have to hop across history to find folks who have been similarly feeling isolated. Churchill’s a good writer. And I loved reading Teddy Roosevelt’s writing. He’s this big, outsize character.

Have you read a lot of presidential biographies?

The biographies have been useful, because I do think that there’s a tendency, understandable, to think that whatever’s going on right now is uniquely disastrous or amazing or difficult. And it just serves you well to think about Roosevelt trying to navigate World War II or Lincoln trying to figure out whether he’s going to fire [George B.] McClellan when Rebel troops are 20, 30, 40 miles away.

I watched some of the civil-rights-movement documentary mini-series “Eyes on the Prize” after the election.

It was useful.

You do see how far we’ve come, and in the space of my lifetime.

And that’s why seeing my daughters now picking up books that I read 30 years ago or 40 years ago is gratifying, because I want them to have perspective — not for purposes of complacency, but rather to give them confidence that people with a sense of determination and courage and pluck can reshape things. It’s empowering for them.

What books would you recommend at this moment in time, that captures this sense of turmoil?

I should probably ask you or some people who have had time to catch up on reading. I’ll confess that since the election, I’ve been busier than I expected. So one of the things I’m really looking forward to is to dig into a whole bunch of literature.

But one of the things I’m confident about is that, out of this moment, there are a whole bunch of writers, a lot of them young, who are probably writing the book I need to read. [Laughter] They’re ahead of me right now. And so in my post-presidency, in addition to training the next generation of leaders to work on issues like climate change or gun violence or criminal justice reform, my hope is to link them up with their peers who see fiction or nonfiction as an important part of that process.

When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.

There’s something particular about quieting yourself and having a sustained stretch of time that is different from music or television or even the greatest movies.

And part of what we’re all having to deal with right now is just a lot of information overload and a lack of time to process things. So we make quick judgments and assign stereotypes to things, block certain things out, because our brain is just trying to get through the day.

We’re bombarded with information. Technology is moving so rapidly.

Look, I don’t worry about the survival of the novel. We’re a storytelling species.

I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people. And America is unique in having to stitch together all these disparate elements — we’re not one race, we’re not one tribe, folks didn’t all arrive here at the same time.

What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.

I know you like Junot Díaz’s and Jhumpa Lahiri’s books, and they speak to immigration or the American Dream.

I think Lahiri’s books, I think Díaz’s books, do speak to a very particular contemporary immigration experience. But also this combination of — that I think is universal — longing for this better place, but also feeling displaced and looking backwards at the same time. I think in that sense, their novels are directly connected to a lot of American literature.

Some of the great books by Jewish authors like Philip Roth or Saul Bellow, they are steeped with this sense of being an outsider, longing to get in, not sure what you’re giving up — what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not willing to give up. So that particular aspect of American fiction I think is still of great relevance today.