“Summertime, oh, summertime,” E.B. White once wrote, “pattern of life indelible, the fade-proof lake, the woods unshatterable, the pasture with the sweetfern and the juniper forever and ever …” Likely not everything we read this summer will rise to the level of White’s prose, and anyway, does it really need to? After all, one man’s trashy potboiler is another’s literary treasure.

But it’s tough to argue with White’s enthusiasm; he loved Maine, and all of the summer stories that took place here. And whichever of those stories you choose to read about this summer – from thrilling nail biters and frothy beach reads to poignant memoirs and sob-inducing family dramas – depends on what kind of reader you are. So with that in mind, here are a few titles to lose yourself in – all of them taking place in Maine during summertime.

For family drama lovers:
“Vacationland” by Meg Mitchell Moore

An easy read about difficult familial challenges, the novel follows the convergence of family members at the grandparents’ home in Owls Head. Over the course of one summer, they wrestle with ambition and loss, responsibility and betrayal, and what actually makes a family a family.

For foodies and fans of comeback stories:
“Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life From Scratch” by Erin French

French’s memoir is required reading for anyone addicted to her reality show or her restaurant in Freedom, Maine. It details her story starting with her childhood, and dives into her struggles with anxiety, addiction and single motherhood.


For erudite romantics:
“The Bird Skinner” by Alice Greenway

Greenway’s award-winning and beautifully written story follows curmudgeonly Jim Kennoway on North Haven Island, as his perspective is changed by a newcomer. The New York Times calls it “a thrilling evocation of young love.”

For kids (grades 2 and 3):
“How to Catch a Keeper” by Stephanie Mulligan

Siblings Luke and Layla head to Maine for an early summer vacation, find out about a lobster fishing tour boat called Lucky Catch, and learn all about sea life and catching lobsters.

For fans of personal growth:
“Lucy by the Sea” by Elizabeth Strout

This is Strout’s fourth novel about Lucy Barton, who in the first year of the pandemic leaves her apartment in Manhattan for a small coastal town in Maine. There she goes into lockdown with her ex-husband. Unsurprisingly, conflicted feelings and introspection ensue.

For psychological thriller enthusiasts:
“Dolores Claiborne” by Stephen King

On fictional Little Tall Island in Maine, a cold and cantankerous woman is accused of murdering her wealthy boss. As her side of the story unfolds, the details of her hardscrabble life – including moments of horror, tenderness and resilience – come to light.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

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