Featured Bookshop: the “Fiercely Indie, Truly Local” Owl & Turtle in Camden, Maine

Elizabeth Garber

The Owl & Turtle Bookshop is a pleasure to visit, and we encourage you to drive to beautiful Camden, Maine, and go there as soon as possible. Camden is a bit of a tourist destination, so there’s a nice selection of restaurants, shops, and accommodations, but it’s not crowded: you can find parking if you drive, and get seated in a restaurant without elaborate strategies. Beside a series of walkways and a little park, a waterfall in the center of town spills into a quintessential Maine Coast harbor, so you will have impressive photos to bring home.

The Owl & Turtle is centrally located on Bay View Street. Upon entering the shop, you’ll see a large table featuring “the best of the independent presses.” (Proprietors Selena & Ricky Sheaves’ four-word manifesto is fiercely indie, truly local.) You may be distracted by the café. Along with cappuccinos and lattes, they have a nice method of making drip coffee, involving a copper cup stand, paper filters, hot water, and tasty beans. If you are not a habitué of coffee shops, no worries. You can just simply order a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon. Ricky may make your brew himself, and you can sit down at a table he made himself. In a bookstore he has renovated. This is New England, you know.

The bookstore has a well-curated selection of books, including marine titles. Along with writing some rip-snorting web copy, Selena is well-versed on the many local poets she carries (pun intended). We discovered “True Affections: Poems from a Small Town,” by Elizabeth W. Garber, the Illuminated Sea Press.  These are unpretentious poems with a strong sense of place, and the book title reminds us of the seminal (as in, this may be one of the best pieces of writing in American arts and letters) Jefferson Lecture by Wendell Berry, It All Turns on Affection.”

Here’s an excerpt from Garber’s poem, “Inside the Winter Boathouse”

The V boarded doors, bolted and impenetrable, hold

Storms at bay. The summer’s litter of construction, rib

Patterns, bolts, knuckle and Y braces blanketed in dust.

You’ll also find The Tow Truck Driver’s Story, read here by Garrison Keillor for the Writer’s Almanac, in this collection.

The Owl & Turtle is also one of only three US distributors of a fine children’s magazine, Anorak, published in England. It’s intelligent and has great graphic design, and would make a nice little gift, or keep your kids entertained while you peruse the shelves.

The Gimme:  The Owl & Turtle is about all the right things, and the owners are warm, welcoming, and genuinely committed to good books. A well-chosen selection of local authors, independents, and New England cultural titles makes this well worth the trip, and your support.

The Owl & Turtle

33 Bay View Street

Camden, Maine 04843

Phone: (207) 230-7335


Notes: half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon is a line from LA Story. We are not affiliated with, nor compensated by, the proprietors of the Owl & Turtle Bookshop. We are stealthy bookshop visitors (suggestions welcomed, however).



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