Books to Make You Laugh on The Point

This morning on The Point with Mindy Todd we discussed books that make us laugh. Joining Mindy were Jill Erickson, Head of Reference and Adult Services at FPL and Vicky Titcomb of Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich. We hope you’ll now be able to start your new year with a chuckle! Below are our lists, as well as listener picks.

Mindy’s Picks

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: understanding philosophy through jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: understanding political doublespeak through philosophy and jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Craig Kingsbury Talkin’ by Kristen Kingsbury Henshaw


Vicky’s Picks

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

One Man’s Meat by E. B. White

Theft by Finding Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris

The Inevitable Guest by Marcia Monbleau

Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance by Bill McKibben

Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman

Empire Falls, Nobody’s Fool, Everybody’s Fool and The Straight Man by Richard Russo

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Tao of Martha: my year of living; or, why I’m never getting all that glitter off of the dog by Jen Lancaster

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding

Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Jill’s Picks

The Complete Peanuts 1950 – 1952 by Charles M. Schulz

The Complete Peanuts 1963 – 1964 by Charles M. Schulz

The Awdrey-Gore Legacy by Edward Gorey (Also available in the Gorey collection Amphigorey Also.)

Home Cooking: a writer in the kitchen by Laurie Colwin

Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Joy in the Morning by P. G. Wodehouse

Vacationland: true stories from painful beaches by John Hodgman

The 50 Funniest American Writers edited by Andy Borowitz

Listener Picks

How Not to Do Things by Susan Blood

Himself  by Jess Kidd

I’m a Stranger Here Myself and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Friday Reads: Across Many Mountains, a memoir


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


This week, the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club had a thoughtful discussion about the memoir, Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen.   All 15 people in attendance had a chance to share their thoughts, observations and revelations with a rapt audience.  It was wonderful to hear new attendees and veteran attendees build on each other’s comments and get spurred on to new thoughts they wouldn’t have come up reading this book alone.

So what was it that got the group in synch? Across Many Mountains, a memoir by Swiss-Tibetan actor, model, movie-maker and political activist, Yangzom Brauen, tells the story of three generations of Tibetan women: the author, her mother and her grandmother, a Buddhist nun.  It begins with the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the early 1950s, which forced the grandmother and her husband, a Buddhist monk, to flee to India with their two daughters, ages 6 and 2.  They trekked for a month over the Himalayas to India, where they subsisted in hand to mouth fashion for several years as refugees.  When the author’s mother was 16, she drew the attention of a young scholar of Buddhism who hailed from an important family in Switzerland.  He fell madly in love and would not give up his pursuit until he persuaded the young Sonam and her mother (the only family members still living) to move to Bern, Switzerland.  Sonam and Martin, the Swiss scholar, married, had two children (the author and her brother) and lived a comfortable life in Switzerland and then New York City, where the book leaves off, around 2008.

Through the vastly different lives of these three remarkable women we learn about Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, the violent re-education the Chinese soldiers forced on the country, as well as how their experiences affected their lives.   We see how Buddhism gives the grandmother the inner strength to carry her through one trial after another with clarity of purpose, whereas, Sonam, who left Tibet when she was six had a desperate longing for a permanent home and always felt out of place.  The author, who was born in Switzerland and only visited Tibet, developed a deep love and commitment to preserving the Tibetan culture through her grandmother’s teachings.

All this was relayed in what one book club member described as a conversation with the reader.  We were gently told about all these events, rather than being shown.  So, it was a fascinating and easy read rather than a heart-wrenching tale of bloodshed, deprivation and oppression.

Next month we will discuss My Green Manifesto by David Gessner, which is about cleaning up the Charles River in Boston.  If you would like to join us, read the book and come to the discussion on Thursday, January 4 at 10:00 a.m. in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room.  If you want a print copy of the book, you will need to order it from the Commonwealth catalog as all print copies from Cape Cod libraries are spoken for.  There are also two copies of the ebook in Overdrive in epub and Kindle formats.  If you need help getting a copy, please contact the reference department at 508-457-2555 x 6 or

Friday Reads: Christmas Knitting and Crocheting

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


Knitters and crocheters, it’s time to get those needles, hooks and yarn out!  So many gifts to make, so little time.  Check out these books for some gift ideas and patterns.  Most projects are small, so you can make something for everyone on your list.

Scandinavia Christmas Stockings:  Classic Designs to Knit for the Holiday by Mette Handberg. This one has spent time on the Staff Picks shelf.  Proficient knitters will enjoy it, but beginners will probably get frustrated.  (See photo on the left.)

55 Christmas Balls to Knit:  Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings by Arne and Carlos.  If you are not familiar with this duo – their designs are modernized traditional Scandinavian patterns and motifs.  Whimsy is the word.

Little Christmas Decorations to Knit and Crochet by Sue Stratford and Val Pierce.  At no more than 3” each, you can create enough ornaments to outfit a whole tree for a brand new look, or tie them onto gifts in lieu of a bow, or give one to each person you know or …  or …. .  Everyone needs a knitted figgy pudding, don’t they? (See photo on the right.)

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home and Tree:  stockings, ornaments, garlands and more by Edie Eckman.  These colorful and modern crochet projects will come together in a twinkle of Santa’s eye.  It is assumed the reader already knows how to crochet.


Currently, these books are on the mantelpiece across from the circulation desk, but they may not stick around long!


Merry Christmas Crafting!

Holiday Books on the Point

Today’s show was pre-recorded, due to the WCAI pledge drive, which means that the morning show was abbreviated, but the 7:00 PM show will be the complete show.  So if you see books on this list that you didn’t actually hear about when you were listening, that would be the reason! You can also listen online at WCAI. Vicky Titcomb of Titcomb’s Bookshop joined Mindy Todd and Jill Erickson to talk about books to give and books that inspire you to make, bake, and decorate for the holidays.

Here is the Harry Potter quotation, read on the show, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling:

“Sir — Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?”

“Obviously, you’ve just done so,” Dumbledore smiled. “You may ask me one more thing, however,”

“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”

I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.”

Harry stared.

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

And here is a link to the poem Ode to My Socks by Pablo Neruda.

And here is the recipe for snow filling for cake, as written in the Girls Friendly Cook Book:

“Scrape 1 apple in a large bowl, add 1 cup sugar; pour over the unbeaten whites of 2 eggs; then beat about twenty minutes. At first it looks brown, but when done it will be like snow. This may be used for cake or for coffee jelly.”


Vicky’s Picks

Beautiful Gift Books

Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 

Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza

The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund (picture book with the true Christmas story)

Gratitude: A Book of Inspirational Thoughts & Quotes by Susan Branch

For the History Buff

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism  by John U. Bacon.  Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee provided immediately after the Halifax Explosion of 1917

The Mayflower: The Families, The Voyage, and the Founding of America by Rebecca Fraser.  Winslow family

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

For the Nature Lover

The Outer Beach: A Thousand Mile Walk on Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore by Robert Finch.

365 Cape Cod Ponds Day by Day by Susan Anarino

Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti

For the Adventurous

Ruthless River: Love & Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly Fitzgerald

For the Cook

The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine by Erin French

America the Cookbook: A Culinary Road Trip Through the 50 States by Gabrielle Langholtz

For the Music Lover

The Greatest Album Covers of All Time by Barry Miles, Grant Scott and Johnny Morgan

For the Sports Lover

Count the Rings: Inside Boston’s Wicked Awesome Reign as the City of Champions from 2001 to 2017, Ten Titles, Four Teams: Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics by Bob Halloran

For the Boater

Unsinkable: The History of Boston Whaler by Matthew Plunkett

Books to Inspire

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

God: 48 Famous and Fascinating Minds Talk about God compiled by Jennifer Berne

The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace by Patrizia Collard

Just for Fun

Shakespeare Box Set (Running Press Miniature Books)


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. National Book Award for Fiction 2017

For Children

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (Ages 10+)

Max and Charlie Help a Hero: Never Too Young to Give Back by Kim Rodriques and K. M. Ginter (ages 6 and up)

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (Ages 9-12) – A Christmas story

Harry Potter Pensieve Memory Seta journal for any Harry Potter fan!

Picture Books for Children

The Mermaid by Jan Brett


Jill’s Picks

Bookshops: a reader’s history by Jorge Carrión

A Very Merry Paper Christmas

Unpacking My Library: artists and their books edited by Jo Steffens and Matthias Neumann

The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes (The image on this page is from this book.)

Christmas for Greta and Gracie by Yasmeen Ismail

Novel Destinations: a travel guide to literary landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West by Shannon McKenna Schmidt & Joni Rendon

The Usual Santas: a collection of Soho Crime Christmas capers

The Girls Friendly Cook Book

The Cape Cod Cook Book by Suzanne Cary Gruver

A Family Christmas selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy


Patron Suggestion:

The Work of Christmas: the twelve days of Christmas with Howard Thurman by Bruce Epperly


Friday Reads: The Magician’s Assistant


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

This blog written by Donna Burgess, Reference Librarian and co-leader of “Books on the Half-shell,”  the library’s monthly fiction book club.


Ann Patchett’s third novel, The Magician’s Assistant,  is a selection in the Falmouth Fiction book club, series, “Magic and Magicians.”

Set in Los Angeles, California and Alliance, Nebraska it is both a love story and an awakening. The magician’s assistant of the title is named Sabine. An assistant to the magician Parsifal for twenty years, Sabine was in love with him, even though he was gay, and as is announced in the opening sentences, “Parsifal is dead. That is the end of the story.”

Throughout their relationship Parsifal maintained that his family had all died in a car accident in Connecticut. So it came as a shock when Sabine learned that he had a family in Nebraska! His mother, Dot and her daughter, Bertie arrived in LA   through contact with Parsifal’s lawyer. They decided to meet Sabine.

Having spent too much time in bed grieving the loss of Parsifal, Sabine decides to give Dot and Bertie a tour of the LA, (“a city where there are no laws against pretending to be something you weren’t!”) She finally decides to accept Dot’s invitation to visit Alliance and learn about Parsifal’s past.  We learn that Parsifal’s given name is Guy, that there was a tragic event in his past that triggered his move away from Nebraska and his shutting out his past.

The contrast between the palm tree lined streets of L.A. and the windswept snow –clogged streets of Alliance heighten the contrast between the personalities of Dot’s family and Sabine.

Although there is little magic performed throughout the book, Sabine does manage to astonish Dot and her family by pulling an egg from her ear! Perhaps the magic is the relationships that develop between Sabine and Dot’s family.

The book sparked a lot of discussion in both the evening and morning book groups. One member stated at the beginning of the meeting she didn’t really care for the book. After listening to the discussion she realized how much there was to the story.

And that my readers, is what book clubs are all about.





Friday Reads: Magazines to Go!


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


I am going to make a couple assumptions here and I would love it if someone would write back to tell me I am wrong … I assume that you don’t know the library has Skeptical Inquirer: the magazine for science and reason.  It is one of a large collection of magazines we offer covering a wide variety of interests, which brings me to my second assumption.  I also assume you don’t know back issues of magazines can be checked out.

Was there a recipe, craft project or knitting pattern you want to try or an interesting article you want to peruse while sitting in your favorite spot?  Go for it!  You can bring home past issues of magazines for two weeks, just like books.  The current issues, which we put in plastic covers, stay in the library until they are replaced with newer ones.  For most magazines we keep one year’s worth of back issues underneath the display shelf (or behind, depending upon your point of view).

Our magazine collection probably has several titles you haven’t heard of, for instance:

Art Margins
scholarly articles about contemporary art, media, architecture & critical theory

The Christian Centurythinking critically, living faithfully
applies Christian thought to contemporary topics of interest, such as gun-ownership

Film Comment
filmmaking in the U.S. and abroad, published by Film Society of Lincoln Center

Modern Farmer
for today’s cutting-edge food producers and consumers:  farmers, chefs, home-cooks

Hockey News:  the international hockey weekly
all about North American conference teams with special issues such as “Season Opener” and “Yearbook”

Z Magazine
an independent political monthly magazine from Hull, Massachusetts, in its 30th year

And here I will include Skeptical Inquirer: the magazine for science and reason, which “focuses on what the scientific community knows about claims of the paranormal as opposed to media sensationalism.  The journal promotes scientific research, critical thinking and science education.”  (Magazines for Libraries, 2014, p. 613)

We have all the star titles you would expect to find as well.  Look for your favorite filed alphabetically.   Or, if you have a topic of interest, anything from art to the zodiac, just ask a reference librarian and we’ll see what we can find for you.



Friday Reads: Just Mercy


“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 


This week the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed Just Mercy:  a story of justice and redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  It is the second book in our six-month series devoted to social justice.  Each month we will read about a different aspect of social justice.  In Just Mercy, the topic was criminal justice.  But let me quote the author for a more in-depth description:


This book is about getting closer to mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America.  It is about how easily we condemn people in this country and the injustice we create when we allow fear, anger, and distance to shape the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.  It’s also about a dramatic period in our recent history, a period that indelibly marked the lives of millions of Americans – of all races, ages and sexes – and the American psyche as a whole. (p.14)


Stevenson’s personal narrative describes his first 30 years after Harvard Law School when he started the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama – a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free legal counsel to prisoners wrongly accused of crimes.   Over that time the EJI grew from just two lawyers, Stevenson and a friend from Harvard, to over 40 attorneys who, together, tirelessly fight for racial justice and the fair treatment of children in prison, and against mass incarceration, and the death penalty.  Through his experiences we learn just how many ways minorities, the poor, the mentally ill and other vulnerable members of our society can be treated unfairly when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time and members of the judicial system want a quick conviction.  The results can be catastrophic: innocent people being imprisoned, put in solitary confinement and on death row or even executed.  Many suffer physical and sexual abuse from wardens and other inmates.  Their families and communities acutely feel the injustice as well.

Our large group had a thoughtful and moving discussion about Just Mercy.  Some of us found it very difficult to read because of all the unfairness and corruption Stevenson uncovers, but we all were glad that we read such an important account from one with a reliable and even voice.  Just Mercy is read in high school and college English classes across the country, including here at Falmouth High School.  You can learn more about the author and the book at

Join us next month for Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen, a memoir about racism and religious oppression in Tibet.

Funeral and Memorial Readings

Over the years we have often been asked for words or poems that might be read at a funeral. Recently we were asked again, and decided it might be useful to write a blog entry on this topic. We hope the list of books below might be helpful during the difficult time of planning a funeral or a memorial service.

The Book of Eulogies edited with commentary by Phyllis Theroux. This is a collection of memorial tributes, poetry, essays, and letters of condolence. It includes an index, so should you know a specific author that your loved one used to read, you can find all the names of the writers in the index. Perhaps unexpectedly, but helpfully, there is an entire section of tributes devoted to animals who have died.

Funeral and Memorial Service Readings, Poems and Tributes edited by Rachel R. Baum is sorted by the type of tribute you are planning. Thus there are sections, among others, for mothers, fathers, children, friends, soldiers, and pets.

Readings & Poems edited by Jane McMorland Hunter. Included in this volume are sections of readings and poems that would be appropriate for a funeral or a memorial service. The two sections are “a quiet door” and “love and go on” and include poems by Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti, and A. E. Housman among others. One of the loveliest things about this particular book are the illustrations. (One used to illustrate this blog.) In the introduction the author writes: “Death is one of the certainties of life, as is the fact that at some stage each of us will almost certainly have to deal with the loss of someone close. The pieces here deal first with death itself and then with solitude, but the dividing line is deliberately hazy; somehow we have to find a balance between shedding tears and moving on, remembering and being sad or forgetting and smiling.”

Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions edited by Geoffrey O’Brien with a foreword by Billy Collins.  There are sections for “death and mortality” and “grief and mourning.”

The Art of Losing: poems of grief & healing edited by Kevin Young. This volume includes “150 devastatingly beautiful contemporary elegies that embrace the pain, heartbreak, and healing stages of mourning.”

The Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series offers two possible volumes. One is Poems of Mourning selected and edited by Peter Washington and the other is Poems of the Sea selected and edited by J. D. McClatchy. Because we live by the sea Poems of the Sea feels appropriate for many an occasion, but for a person who loved the ocean you might just find the perfect poem to read aloud at a funeral or a memorial service.




Young Adult & Children’s Books on The Point

Joining Mindy today on The Point’s monthly show on books were Sara Hines of Eight Cousins Books and Mary E. Cronin. The topic was books for children and young adults, and below you will find a list of books that were mentioned, as well as listener picks. We know we discovered lots of new titles we want to read! Miss the show? You’ll be able to listen online!

Jill Erickson, Head of Reference and Adult Services at FPL, took this month off from the book show, but will return next month with Peter Abrahams who will be joining Mindy and Jill to discuss books in translation.


Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Dusky Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

I am Gandhi (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer

Martin Sandler books

Journey by Aaron Becker

The Little Sock Pirate by John Whelan; illustrations by Clara Urbahn



Brick by Brick by Giuliano Ferri

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: a story about knitting and love by Michelle Edwards; illustrated by G. Brian Karas

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Robert; illustrated by Christian Robinson

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: future author extraordinaire by Susan Tan; illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

The Journey by Francesca Sanna

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali

Patina Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down (book in verse) due out in October



Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

River Friendly, River Wild by Jane Kurtz and Neil Brennan

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Posted by John David Anderson

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman

Doing Her Bit: a story about the Woman’s Land Army of America by Erin Hagar; illustrated by Jen Hill

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stann Yogi; illustrations by Yutaka Houlette

The Reading Without Walls Challenge

The Nantucket Sea Monster: a fake news story by Darcy Pattison

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl



The Cookie Loved ‘Round the World: the story of the chocolate chip cookie by Kathleen Teahan

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Big Hair Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates and Megan Bair

Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton

Mad Scientists Club by Bertrand R. Brinley

Shadow Man by Melissa Scott


Our New Assistant Director Has Arrived!

We asked Jennifer Woodward, our brand new Assistant Director, to write something about her first week at FPL for the blog, and she did! We are so delighted she is here!


“Hello! My name is Jennifer Woodward and I am the new Assistant Director here at the Falmouth Public Library. I am thrilled to be here. I spent my first week on the job getting to know the library staff and the library building, as well as learning my new tasks and more about Falmouth. The library staff welcomed me with a party which featured a pie making contest! Both Liz Farland and Tammy Amon won the coveted Golden Spatula awards.

My most recent position was the Director of the public library in Northbridge Massachusetts. I’ve also worked in a corporate library, a law library and two other public libraries in Massachusetts. I grew up in Massachusetts, mostly in Plymouth, and spent my adult years (to date) in Metrowest and Central Massachusetts.

One of my new tasks is to choose which fiction books and DVDs to buy for adults. If you have any suggestions or thoughts about what you would like us to buy,  I would love to talk to you about it!

Thank you to the library staff and Director Linda Collins for helping make my first week a successful one.  And I hope to see you at the library soon!”