As we slide from summer into fall, the days grow shorter and the nights get cooler. For me, the change in seasons is also a chance for introspection and reflection; an appetite best sated by diving into works of non-fiction. This fall is rich with true stories by and about Maine and its residents. Here are three of the best.

Cover courtesy of Abrams Press

“Vanishing Fleece” by Clara Parkes. Abrams Press. Hardcover, $23, on sale Oct. 1

Over the course of a year, Portland’s Clara Parkes transformed a nearly-700-pound bale of fleece into salable yarn – “Vanishing Fleece” is a chronicle of that year. Traveling around the country and meeting with folks who touch every bit of the wool and yarn business (dyers, spinners, and even the sheep), Parkes writes a captivating profile of a much-loved industry. Like Mark Kurlansky’s “Salt” and Sven Beckert’s “Empire of Cotton,” it’s a fascinating dive into history and culture through the lens of a single subject. While the book will most obviously appeal to knitters and crafters, it will captivate anyone who cares about history, Maine industry, or simply knowing where the products we use every day come from.

 

 

Cover courtesy of Liveright

“The In-Betweens” by Mira Ptacin. Liveright. Hardcover, $26.95, on sale Oct. 29

Ptacin follows up her debut memoir “Poor Your Soul” with a stunning book about Camp Etna, a spiritualist camp on 27 acres in Etna, Maine. In writing the book, she immersed herself in the spiritualist community, from ghost hunting and water witching to releasing trapped spirits. She first wrote about Camp Etna for New York Magazine in 2017, in a piece that was widely shared; the book, which expands on that piece, sustains Ptacin’s curious voice and energy. “The In-Betweens” skillfully blends history and investigative reporting with the author’s own experiences, and will appeal to readers who like books that blend memoir with the broader historical record.

 

 

Cover courtesy of PublicAffairs

Home Now: How 6000 Refugees Transformed an American Town” by Cynthia Anderson. PublicAffairs. Hardcover, $28, on sale Oct. 29

Over the last two decades, the city of Lewiston has been transformed into one of the most Muslim communities in America — about 6,000 of the city’s inhabitants are refugees and asylum seekers. In “Home Now,” Lewiston native Cynthia Anderson writes about the change and real (but precarious) progress in the community. Relying on deep reporting and interviews with new and lifelong Mainers, Anderson provides a local window on a story playing out nationwide. “Home Now” skillfully pulls from stakeholders throughout the immigration story, and voices include a single Muslim mom, a Congolese asylum seeker, and a Somali community leader. It’s a book that feels both current and necessary, a microcosm of the immigration stories we see playing out daily on the national stage.


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