Thursday, July 24, 2008

souvenirs from a trip

One of the best things about Blue Hill, Maine, is the fantastic indie bookstore on Pleasant Street. I could move to this community for the bookstore alone! Okay, the lobster, coastline, and New England charm help. Blue Hill Books is in a cozy (former) house with an inviting front porch, where the store’s bestsellers are proudly announced. And, it's a really good, obviously independent list.

Once you enter, all vestiges of the building’s former function are stripped away, and, as Alice through the rabbit hole (apologies for the cheesy cliché), you’re standing in a clean, well-lighted space, filled with books. To me, that’s heaven. The store highlights for me are new releases, fiction, and local authors/interests up front, as well as the various nonfiction sections and the fabulous, cozy alcove devoted to children’s books, found on the lower level.

Naturally, I selected a few souvenirs from among the many books that caught my eye:

The Edge of Maine by Geoffrey Wolff
Part of the National Geographic Directions travel series written by leading literary authors, this book explores Down East Maine. I’ve never read a travel essay that more precisely describes the area where I was standing than this one. This series is so well done, especially matching author to subject, that I could—and hopefully will—make a challenge out of reading all of the titles in it. I have also read Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal and William Kittredge’s Southwestern Homelands.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
In this little family, we’re all nutters for Robert McCloskey. While I was pregnant with son number one, I purchased Make Way for Ducklings as "baby’s first book," and it has always been a favorite. Blueberries for Sal is, disputably, set on Blue Hill, the small mountain after which the town was named. I'm not here to argue the claim, but, make no mistake, One Morning in Maine, chronicling Sal’s further adventures, is set in nearby Bucks Harbor. Five years ago, when we visited the area, Mr. Bibliotonic and I rode the Brookville Loop on bike, making a pilgrimage to Condon’s Garage in Bucks Harbor. So it should follow, that five years later, the little Bibliotonics would be ready for McCloskey’s tales of a ten-year-old boy.

Slipknot by Linda Greenlaw
When we visited this area five years ago, I read Linda Greenlaw’s Lobster Chronicles, her memoir of being a Maine lobster fisher. Slipknot is the first book in a mystery series, also set in the region. I enjoyed Greenlaw’s storytelling in Lobster Chronicles and look forward to seeing how she handles fiction writing.

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