Vineyard books for all 12 days of Christmas


Edgartown Books recommends…

“Poison Ivy” by Cynthia Riggs – The latest Victoria Trumbull mystery follows our 92-year-old poet/sleuth as she uncovers a mystery that involves bodies scattered around Ivy Green College, including one of the groundskeeper’s mangy mutts buried beneath a lush poison ivy vine. A must-read for fans of Cynthia Riggs and mysteries set on the Vineyard.

“Last Farm on Chappaquiddick: Pimpneymouse Farm” by Edo Potter – A lovely memoir by Edo Potter, a longtime resident of Chappy whose family has owned and operated Pimpneymouse Farm since 1928. Pimpneymouse was, until the recent addition of Slip Away Farm, the last farm on the small island. Potter writes about the years from 1933 to 1945 when her family became summer residents and truck farmers. Historical photos of Chappaquiddick in its early days accompany the story.

“Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” by William Flender – This wonderful little book of trails by William Flender and the Vineyard Conservation Society is a must-have for those who want to explore the Island. Containing 53 trails, walkers have a choice of longer or shorter trails, up or down Island. With very detailed directions to each property and a comprehensive map, this is the best walking trail book around.

“Martha’s Vineyard” by Charles Fields – Fields captures the unique charm of Martha’s Vineyard in this beautiful coffee table book. Through 90 color photos of landscapes, seascapes, and aerial views, a variety of location around the island are displayed with captions.

“Women of Martha’s Vineyard” by Tom Dresser – Historian Thomas Dresser provides a series of biographical sketches of extraordinary women who have traveled to and lived on Martha’s Vineyard through the years. Among some of the notable women included are Dorothy West, Emily Post, Polly Hill and Nancy Luce.

Bunch of Grapes recommends…

“Cats of Martha’s Vineyard” by Lynn Christoffers – Move over “Seadogs Calendar” and share your space with the cats on this animal loving Island. Christoffers has captured over 100 cats in their home territories, up a tree, on the bed, in the middle of fields. Even though we all know that cats only do what they want, they all pose for the photographer along with their owners. Most of them do not have fancy lineages. Many have been rescued, but they all are dearly loved.

“Fall From Grace” and “The Loss of Innocence” by Richard North Patterson – The first two books of a planned trilogy are a family drama about the wealthy privileged class on Martha’s Vineyard. 21-year-old Wendy Dane is a planning perfect wedding to her perfect fiancée on the Vineyard. She is saved from drowning by Ben, a native Vineyarder, who has dropped out of college. As the two become friends, issues about class, money, and privilege cause tensions. Years later, when Ben’s estranged son, Adam, a CIA operative, comes to settle his father’s affairs on the Island, his training makes him suspect that his father’s death was not an accident.

“Peggy Day’s Martha’s Vineyard Adventure” by Barbara Dourmashkin – This new, beautifully illustrated children’s book takes Sarah and her dog, Peggy Day, on a romp around the Vineyard. Peggy Day breaks her leash on the front porch of the Menemsha Market when she starts chasing a runaway kitten. Sarah chases them to the dock, up to the Cliffs, through the Ag Fair, and eventually down-Island. When she spots a dog running on to the ferry, she is convinced that her dog is gone forever. Sadly she heads home in the evening, lamenting that it has been the worst day of her life, only to discover an amazing surprise.

“Living off the Sea” by Melinda Fager – Melinda and Jeff Fager have spent many summers on Chappaquiddick. Melinda is a photographer and cook, and Jeff is a determined fisherman. Together, they have developed many recipes for the fish they catch, and the food they forage or buy at local farms. These are not overly complicated recipes with exotic ingredients, but recipes that allow the freshness of the bounty to come through. The many photographs are as clean and beautiful as the food itself.

“Poison Ivy” by Cynthia Riggs – In this the 11th Victoria Trumbull mystery, Riggs again brings us her 92-year-old sleuth. When Victoria Trumbull enters the lecture hall of Ivy Green, a college in Vineyard Haven, where she is an adjunct professor of poetry, she is overwhelmed with the horrible stench of the place. With the help of a mutt named Brownie, she discovers a much decayed corpse. Are there more? Is a serial killer at work?

Book Den East recommends…

“History of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.” by C.E. Banks – Our second edition published by the Dukes County Historical Society in 1966 is the classic compendium of information regarding the Island up to the 20th century. Included is much genealogical and illustrative material. Three volume set. ($275)

“The Archaeology of Martha’s Vineyard” by William A. Ritchie – This 1969 edition describes various excavation sites, which give us a picture of aboriginal life on the Island in prehistoric times. Nicely illustrated with plates and figures. ($50)

“Looking At The Vineyard (1973/1975)” – This is the Vineyard Open Land Foundation’s seminal study of the Island’s visual character and assessment of the increasingly rapacious development. The study antedates the subsequent vigorous and often bitter conflict between god Mammon and goddess Reason. ($20)

“People And Predicaments of Life And Distress on Martha’s Vineyard” by Milton Mazer – A 1976 read gives us a sympathetic psychiatrist’s analysis of what it means to be a year-round resident of Martha’s Vineyard; to live, work, and survive out here in the Atlantic. Based on a five-year study, the book is already of a bygone era when the population dynamics of the Island were quite different from those of the present, but the problems and predicaments remain the same. ($35)

“Martha’s Vineyard Summer Resort 1835-1935” by Henry Beetle Hough – This is a 1936 history of the development of the Island as a site for enjoying a summer vacation – away from the unpleasantness of city life. The Pulitzer Prize winning author was the owner and editor of the Vineyard Gazette who possessed a winning way with words. ($100)

Cathy Walthers’s short list of great cookbooks by Martha’s Vineyard authors

Tina Miller’s “Vineyard Harvest” — One of my favorite all-time cookbooks. The recipes are simple, delicious and they work. Great for company. (With Christie Matheson and Alison Shaw; published by Broadway Books).

Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook – The original. tells how to cook island food’s, recently updated. I refer to all the time – has a great blueberry crisp and other recipes. (By Jean Stewart Wexler; published by Globe Pequot Press)

Holly Bellebuono’s books make great gifts — including “The Essential Herbal for Natural Health: How to Transform Easy to Find Herbs into Healing Remedies for the Whole Family.” (Roost Books).

Susie Middleton’s “Fast Fresh and Green” — she can make vegetables taste great. (Chronicle Books.)

Morning Glory Cookbook — I haven’t tried the recipes, but it’s beautiful and a good read — a farm that’s very valuable to our island. (Alison Shaw/Tom Dunlop; published by Vineyard Stories)

I also love Steven Raichlen’s “Planet Barbecue” (Workman Publishing) and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking of France (“Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France; Knopf).

Cathy Walthers is an Island author and private chef. She’s written “Greens, Glorious Greens;” “Raising the Salad Bar” and “Soups + Sides.” She and Alison Shaw are working on the upcoming “Kale, Glorious Kale.”