Again I was blog trolling and found something interesting posed at Scobberlotch:
“What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?”
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. That’s my answer. In this case, it’s because of the subject matter — orchid poaching, orchid poachers, and orchid collecting. It has to be one of the most unusual subjects anyone might write about, but Orlean pulls it off so well. Her reportage is excellent, detailed, suspenseful. It’s the writing, the reporting that makes such an usual subject become worth reading about.
Orlean comments in the Reader’s Guide in the back of my edition that the subject matter of orchids and orchid collecting was unfamiliar territory for her and she started out detached from the subject, but became much more invested in the subject matter as she wrote. “[T]he process of writing is the journey to understanding,” she says, and that’s how I approached this book. Orchids, orchid collecting were completely unfamiliar territory for me as a reader, but once I became involved with Orlean’s writing, I wanted to keep journeying through the book to understanding.
Writer, editor, and teacher Shelly Lowenkopf posted a wonderful essay on happiness that is definitely worth reading. Here is the link: Shelly Lowenkopf’s Blog