A deep dive into


Readers Retreat brings engaged readers together from all over Maine for a deep dive into one incredible book. Participants have a chance to meet each other and to hear from and talk with scholars, writers, and experts on the book, its context, and its impact. 

The ballot-winning book selected each year for Readers Retreat is also featured prominently in Maine Humanities Discussion Project programming and is used as the core text of several programs in preparation for Readers Retreat. 

Tommy Orange’s There There

In April of 2024 we gathered in-person at three locations and online via Zoom for a day of reflection on Tommy Orange’s riveting novel.

8:00 AM

Doors Open

8:30 AM

Breakfast & Small Group Discussions

9:00 AM


9:20 AM

Keynote: Julian Brave NoiseCat

10:20 AM

Small Group Discussions

11:15 AM


11:30 AM

Speaker: Brendan Shay Basham

12:15 PM


1:15 PM

Speaker: Morgan Talty

2:00 PM

Small Group Discussions

3:00 PM

Afternoon Snack | Book Signing

3:30 PM

Panel Discussion

4:30 PM

Closing Remarks


What book should we read for Readers Retreat 2025?

Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel


our 2024 Book

…Orange’s book is truly a page turner filled with multi-generational accounts of violence, recovery, memory, identity, beauty, and even a little despair.”


2024 Speakers


Writer and Filmmaker

About Julian

At heart, Julian Brave NoiseCat is a writer, son, brother, nephew, cousin, godfather, friend and community member. Julian’s work cuts across the fields of journalism, policy, research, art, activism and advocacy, often engaging multiple disciplines at once.

A writer and filmmaker currently based in the Pacific Northwest, Julian is a proud member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and a descendant of the Lil’Wat Nation of Mount Currie. He is a fellow of the Center for Racial Justice at University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy as well as New America and the Type Media Center and is currently writing his first book, We Survived the Night, an account of contemporary Indigenous life in the U.S. and Canada woven together with a personal narrative that explores trauma, resilience, and creativity in the face of enduring colonial oppression.

Julian is also the director of Sugarcane, his first documentary and a gripping investigation of unmarked graves at an Indian residential school unearths secrets below and above ground, igniting a reckoning in the lives of survivors and their descendants

A columnist for Canada’s National Observer, Julian’s work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The New Yorker among other publications and has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2022 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which honors “excellence in long-form, narrative or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape.” In 2021, Julian was named to the TIME100 Next list of emerging leaders.


Author of Short Fiction, Writer of Darkly Funny Short Stories

About Morgan

Morgan Talty is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation where he grew up. He received his BA in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and his MFA in fiction from Stonecoast’s low-residency program.

His story collection Night of the Living Rez  (2022) won the New England Book Award for fiction, and is set in a Native community in Maine and explores what it means to live, survive, and the persevere after tragedy. The New York Times called it “Remarkable… An electric, captivating voice… Talty has assured himself a spot in the canon of great Native American literature.”

Talty’s work has appeared in GrantaThe Georgia ReviewShenandoahTriQuarterlyNarrative MagazineLitHub, and elsewhere. A winner of the 2021 Narrative Prize, Talty’s work has been supported by the Elizabeth George Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts (2022). Talty teaches courses in both English and Native American Studies, and he is on the faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in creative writing. Talty is also a Prose Editor at The Massachusetts Review.


Writer, Artist, Educator

About Brendan

Brendan Shay Basham (Diné) is Tó Ts’ohnii (Big Water) and Bit’ah’nii (Folded-Arms People), born for bilagáana (Irish, Scottish, English, German). A writer, artist, educator, and recovering chef, Brendan was born in Alaska and raised in northern Arizona. He received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and BA in Liberal Arts from the Evergreen State College. His debut novel, Swim Home to the Vanished, was released August 22, 2023, from Harper Books, flagship imprint of HarperCollins.

Brendan’s work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Santa Fe Literary Review, Yellow Medicine Review, and Juked, among other publications. He is a recipient of Poetry Northwest’s inaugural James Welch Prize for Indigenous Writers, the Ucross Foundation’s first Native American Literary Award, and fellowships from the Truman Capote Trust, Writing By Writers, and Tin House. He is a fiction faculty member at UNR – Lake Tahoe’s Creative Writing MFA Program.


Scarborough High School Civil Rights Club

Led by students who believe in the power of diverse representation in books and literature and who identify within historically marginalized communities such as BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and immigrant students.

Attendance Includes
  • Live music performed by Kafari 
  • Small group discussions facilitated by Civil Rights Club students

Cobscook Institute

Located in easternmost Maine, Cobscook Institute offers a vast array of programs, events, and opportunities to the people of the Cobscook Bay region and beyond.


University of Maine in Orono  |  Scarborough High School  |  Cobscook Institute

or live online via Zoom

Community Price


We recommend this price for those who struggle to meet basic needs and have no expendable income.

Middle Price


We recommend this price for those who are able to meet basic needs and have expendable income.

True Cost


We recommend this price for those who comfortably meet their basic needs and have ample expendable income.

past Books & Speakers

Some of the books, speakers, and talks from previous years

2024: There There – Tommy Orange
2023: An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon
2022: Wild Seed – Octavia Butler
2021: Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

With Support From

This program is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture initiative. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Readers Retreat 2024: There There by Tommy Orange has been made possible in part by funding from the Library of Congress.

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