MHS Book Group: Home Is Where the Heart Is

Another great book group is being offered at the Maine Historical Society, in conjunction with the current MHS exhibit on

Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland

Tuesday, January 27 – Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MHS Book Group: Home Is Where the Heart Is

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, ca. 1880 (MMN #5417)

Wadsworth-Longfellow House, ca. 1880 (MMN #5417)

Facilitator: Larissa Vigue Picard, Director of Education

Join us this January through May for our sixth annual MHS reading group–a great opportunity to engage in literary discussions about history and connect with members of the MHS community.

“Home Is Where the Heart Is” takes as its stepping off point the 2014-2015 MHS museum exhibition, Home: The Longfellow House and the Emergence of Portland. Session readings explore themes of home, family, place, immigration, and community in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with a historical resonance. There are even a couple haunted houses in the mix!

Books must be acquired on your own and include Tracy Kidder’s House, Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger, Terry Farish’s The Good Braider, and George Howe Colt’s The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home. A number of additional short readings (essays, poetry, and a short story) will be provided as handouts or are available online.

WHEN: Tuesdays 1/27, 2/24, 3/24, 4/28, 5/26 @ 6:30PM
WHERE: MHS Lecture Hall
COST: $20 MHS members / $30 non-members (includes handouts/resources, facilitation, and refreshments)
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, January 23. Registration is required; space is limited. To sign up, email for a registration form and copy of the full reading list, drop by the MHS museum store to register on-site, or download the registration form and full reading list.

Favorite books of 2014: a top 10 list

Bath Book ShopWhat were the favorite books that you read in 2014? Once again, it was hard to decide on my top 10, given the amount I read in a year, but I think these are the stand-outs, in no particular order. I tried to choose 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction, to give some variety.


*Come spring / by Ben Ames Williams. This is a classic Maine book, which takes place in Union, Maine. Written in the 1940s, it tells the story of the early settlers, in the form of a novel. Although this is a long book (over 800 pages) it keeps moving (see blog for September)


*A barn in New England : making a home on three acres / by Joseph Monninger. I picked this up at the Chebeague Island Library, on their booksale shelf. Beautifully written book about home, as well as a love story.


*Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Frye : a novel / by Rachel Joyce. Harold takes an unintentional pilgrimage from one end of England to another, to visit a dying friend. This very British book appealed to my love of the idea of pilgrimage, as well as a wonderful story with real characters.


*Walking home : a poet’s journey / by Simon Armitage. Another walking book, but this time a true story of poet Simon Armitage’s trek from north to south on the Pennine Way, in which he trades an evening of poetry for a place to stay. (See blog post for April)


*The art of racing in the rain : a novel / by Garth Stein. This is such an unusual book, written from a dog’s perspective. Really interesting story, with a sad but beautiful ending (which we expected).


*Orange is the new black : my year in a women’s prison / by Piper Kernan. Through a series of bad mistakes Piper Kernan, a Smith College graduate, ended up in a women’s prison in Connecticut. This book will offer a new perspective on life in prison. The author continues to work towards prison reform. (See blog post for January)


*Sheen on the silk : a novel / by Anne Perry. I really appreciated this book for the time period, of 13th century Istanbul, and the religious struggles of the day. It also tells the story of a woman physician disguised as a eunuch, and includes some mystery, intrigue, and a love story. Although overly long, it still was an interesting read.


*Blue plate special : an autobiography of my appetites / by Kate Christensen. More than just food, Kate, a Portland, Maine, author, takes us on a trek through her life – I found this to be a page turner.


*Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb : a novel / by Melanie Benjamin. The Maine Historical Society has a menu signed by Mrs. Tom Thumb, Lavinia Warren Bump, which inspired my interest in reading this book. This fictionalized account of her life is a fascinating view into the life of a young woman in Middleboro, Massachusetts who longed for something more than being sheltered in small town New England – and she got it!


*An altar in the world : a geography of faith / by Barbara Brown Taylor. I read several spiritual books this year – it was hard to choose among them but since this is the most recent, it’s fresher on my mind. Gently written, Barbara Brown Taylor walks us through various spiritual practices, such as walking on the earth, paying attention, living with purpose. This is the kind of book I could read over and over.


Happy New Year from the Long Island Community Library – may 2015 bring you many wonderful books!