A statewide summer reading program offered by the Maine Humanities Council and Maine State Library that gets Maine’s adults all reading the same books. Each year a well-known Maine author recommends two titles by lesser-known Maine authors with libraries and their patrons participating in a summer of reading and discussing the featured books.2022’s featured books—recommended by Christina Baker Kline—are Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran and Beneficence by Meredith Hall.

The Maine Humanities Council is a statewide non-profit that uses books, poetry, and big ideas to bring people together to discuss issues of importance. MHC programs and grants encourage critical thinking and conversations across social, economic, and cultural boundaries.

STATEWIDE EVENTS

  • Summer Program Kick-off on Maine Calling 
    Friday | June 3, 2021 | 11:00 am – 12 noon | Listen on Maine Public
  • Statewide Author Talk with Phuc Tran
    Hosted by MSL and MHC
    Tuesday | July 12, 2022 | 7PM | Register now
  • Statewide Author Talk with Meredith Hall
    Hosted by MSL and MHC
    Thursday | August 25, 2022 | 7PM | Register now

Christina Baker Kline on this year’s recommended books:

“In Sigh, Gone, his darkly funny and ultimately transcendent coming-of-age story, Phuc Tran turns a steady eye on himself, his family, and society at large. About his immigrant parents, torn from Saigon (the origin of the multi-layered title) in the early 1970s, Tran writes: ‘Theirs was a life disrupted, a storyline unfinished, a song half sung.’ With extraordinary sensitivity, he examines the pain of assimilation, the corrosive effects of shame, the legacy of violence, and the power of art to transcend, critique, illuminate, and inspire. This memoir has a wealth of specific detail as well as universal themes that many will relate to about fitting in, finding a place in the world, and figuring out who you are. Above all, it is a love letter to reading. When Tran says, ‘The snarl of my journey was untangled and laid out clearly by books,’ I know exactly what he means. I think of my own childhood and adolescence in Bangor, where the public library provided, as it did for Tran, both a safe haven and a mecca of discovery."

 

“From the first two lines of Beneficence, I was transfixed: ‘Every morning, early, when Tup and I get up to start our chores, the whole house still quiet and the children asleep, I turn and pull the bed together, tugging at the sheets to make them tight and smooth. They are warm with our heat.’ In deceptively simple prose, Hall tells the story of a farming family, the Senters, whose quiet lives are upended by tragedy and who must find a way forward, together or apart. As I wrote in a quote for the hardcover, this novel is a marvel. In its granular attention to detail and soaring larger themes, not to mention its setting and subject matter, it reminds me of two of my favorite contemporary novels, Jane Hamilton’s A Map of the World and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres. (Reviewers have compared Hall to Willa Cather and Marilynne Robinson, and I wouldn’t disagree.) Beneficence will stay with me; I will cherish it.”