Cover courtesy of Amazon

“I find myself alternating between fiction and non-fiction these days, wanting to learn something new but also needing the comfort of books into which I can escape in this unsettled time. I have the feeling that I will be doing more reading than usual this summer as we all find ways to stay close to home but let our minds wander to new and insightful places.

“I recently finished ‘Creating Portland: History and Place in Northern New England’ (University of New Hampshire Press, 2005) which was edited by Joseph A. Conforti. Dr. Conforti was my advisor in the American and New England Studies program at the University of Southern Maine ‘back in the day.’ He has edited a very thorough compilation of historic and modern essays of Maine’s largest city that share a definite sense of place for those living in the area and for those who wish to know more about this unique northern New England city. I especially appreciated the essays that tell the story of Portland’s history both in relation to its Native American beginnings and its place in revolutionary America.

“After finishing ‘Creating Portland,’ I quickly read one of Mary McNear’s fiction books in her Butternut

Cover courtesy of HarperCollins

Lake series, ‘The Space Between Sisters,’ published by William Morrow in 2016. Although an easy, predictable read, this book shares some valuable insights into the life of siblings who grow up without much in the way of parental support.

“Currently I am reading the interesting, well-told story of Frances Perkins, the first woman to be Labor Secretary in the U.S., ‘The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins – Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage’ by Kirstin Downey (Anchor Books, 2009) is a fascinating look at the life of this woman far ahead of her time. Perkins has ties to Maine in that she spent summers with her grandmother in Newcastle while she was growing up; in addition, the Frances Perkins Center is located in Damariscotta. While temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope to visit when it can safely open once again. While just getting into this book, I am already impressed with the author’s attention to the details of Perkins life while telling her story in a way that is captivating to her readers. — REV. ELIZABETH J BACHELDER SMITH, Lisbon United Methodist Church

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