John Gould’s books are classics – and very funny

John Gould has always been one of my favorite authors. He wrote dozens of great books, along with a column that he wrote for 62 years in the Christian Science Monitor. Gould died in 2003.

I am very grateful to Down East Books for republishing some of Gould’s very best books, including The Jonesport Raffle and other tales of Maine Folklore, which I just finished reading.

The first story in this wonderful collection is about a man in Jonesport who raffled off his horse, which it turns out had been dead for quite a while.

You will swear that some of these tales are true. There are stories about lumbering, Maine weather, early Maine settlements, and even the evils of drink. I’ll bet that you didn’t know that early Mainers called their smallest coin a farthing, which according to Gould they pronounced “fart’in.”

I especially enjoyed the story of a huge cusk caught by Barnabas Griffin in Moosehead Lake. “Barney hauled in eight feet of fish,” wrote Gould, “before he came to the eye, and he got frightened and cut the line.” That same story told about a golfer who drove a golf ball 14 miles up the ice on Moosehead Lake. Before that story is finished, you’ll read about the guy who clubbed trout to death with a baseball bat. Hmmm. I never tried that!

Well, there are lots and lots more funny stories in this book, a real Maine treasure.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.