curtis contemporaries

Curtis Contemporary: Molly McGrath

Here we meet Curtis Contemporaries committee member, Molly McGrath, of Brunswick.


What was your childhood library?

I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, and spent the summers in a boathouse cabin on the Kennebec River in Arrowsic with my family. In Andover, I most often went to the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library on the campus of Phillips Academy.

I loved the old reading rooms there–the ones at Curtis remind me of them. From Arrowsic we would sometimes go in our little motorboat to Bath, tie up at the public dock, and walk up the hill to the Patten Free Library.

They have a wonderful reading room , too! For me, there is no indoor spot finer than one full of worn, well cared for wood, comfortable armchairs, and walls filled with books.

What is your favorite thing to do at Curtis?

I have two. On Monday mornings, before my kids were school-aged, we always went to Curtis to the children’s section. I live downtown so I was lucky enough to get to push my kids in a stroller there, bringing along a big bag underneath for the dozens of books we’d cart home with us. My sons especially loved visits with Stephanie Levy, and marveled the day they learned that she didn’t actually live behind the desk–that she could walk around it and come out! Today we visit on the weekends and outside of school time, and I still love browsing all the books with them in the children’s section.

Also, I am a book editor, and I work on adult books contracted out to me as well as books written by Telling Room students. I work and teach at The Telling Room part-time in Portland, and often my work spills over into my “home days.”

Routinely, I leave the distracting confines of my house on those days, and walk over to Curtis, to take over one the lovely couches in the 1904 Building and edit away quietly.


Would you most likely be found reading a print book or an e-book?

I have never read an e-book. I just have never wanted to. I do most of my editing electronically now, and I spend plenty of time on the computer and phone, too. I do listen to audiobooks in the car on my commute to and from Portland. I definitely love printed books and always will. Their colors, smells, texture–the sheer physical presence of books sets off all sorts of endorphins–books just make me happy. Ever notice how well they fit into your hands? You can palm them, and they can warm to your touch. Few tactile things in this world, maybe no other things, are as important to me as books. I will always surround myself with them.

What are you currently reading?

I read lots of Maine writers, along with writers of the world. These days it’s mostly fiction and some poetry. After spending a decade or so dedicated to nonfiction, it is nice to lose myself now in the unimagined.

Thanks so much, Curtis, and Curtis supporters!