a Deep dive into one incredible book

Readers Retreat is an annual spring event that brings engaged readers from all over Maine together for a deep dive into one incredible book. Participants have a chance to hear from and talk with scholars and experts on the book, its context, and its reception—and with each other. 

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 a number of programs in the spring season in preparation for Readers Retreat. 

2023 Event

An Unkindness of Ghosts

May 20 | Southern Maine Community College

2024 Book

There There

by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time.

Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American – grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

2023 Speakers

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Portland, Maine Poet Laureate

Assistant Professor of History, University of Southern Maine

Author, An Unkindness of Ghosts

Maine State Poet Laureate

Raise-OP Housing Cooperative

Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition

Lewiston Public Schools

Master Drummer

Executive Director, H.O.M.E, Inc.

George Lincoln Skolfield, Jr. Professor of Religion, Bowdoin College

Professor of History, University of New England

Professor of Literature, University of Maine-Farmington

Coordinator, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition

What if we knew and shared more about shellfish reproduction, with less concern for money?

Founder and Director, Franco-American Women’s Institute

What if we could all really see who we are?

Assistant Professor of English, University of Kentucky

Historian, Educator

President, Board of Directors Abyssinian Meeting House

Founder and Director, Atlantic Black Box

Assistant Professor, School of Legal Studies, Husson University

Writer, Educator

Staff Writer, Sun Journal

Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine

Professor of History, University of Maine

Poet, Writer, Organizer

Scholar of Cultural Narratives

Historian, scholar, independent museum professional

Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Maine

Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Storyteller and oral historian

Professor of Political Science, University of Maine at Farmington

Poet, Writer, Archivist

Community Support Coordinator, Lewiston Public Schools

Associate Professor, Professional Communication and Journalism

Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Bates College

Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Colby College

Professor in Philosophy, Social Theory, and Peace Studies, College of the Atlantic

ETEP Coordinator, University of Southern Maine

Chair, Native American Programs and Director of Native American Research, University of Maine

Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Maine College of Art

Writer, Veteran

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Education, Bowdoin College

Occupational Therapist, Writer, Teacher

Cultural Historian, Penobscot Nation

Journalist, Historian

Associate Professor of Creative Writing, Colby College

Independent Historian

Assistant Professor of Arts and Sciences, Maine Maritime Academy

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Maine

Educator, Community Interpreter

No Speaker for this Selection

FRiday Dinner

Photo: Katy Ryan

Orchard Ridge Farm, Gorham

May 19, 2023 | 6:00 – 8:30 PM

A magical dinner on the 38 hilly, wooded acres of Orchard Ridge Farm.

  • Meet Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts, and other Readers Retreat speakers.
  • Eat a delicious meal prepared by Black Betty’s Bistro
  • Bask in the soundscapes of Portland-based keyboardist Kafari


Saturday, May 20, 2023

8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

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

An Unkindness of Ghosts

Rivers Solomon

Wild Seed

Octavia E. Butler

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe


Toni Morrison


Joseph Conrad

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