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Saturday Night
Susan Orlean
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Saturday Night

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  326 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Susan Orlean has made it her mission to share Saturday night with all kinds of people all over the country. She's danced with elderly polka experts in Maryland, hung out with a lounge band in an Oregon bar, and run with undergrads bussing between Wellesley and Harvard Squar e. She emerges with an astonishing perspective on what makes this night special--and how it is ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published April 21st 1990 by Knopf (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  326 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea for this book is incredible. The idea is so incredible that the book is entirely mediocre by comparison.

Worth a read, but it took me inexplicably far too long to get through it.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish, 2013
Turns out I wasn't as surprised as I thought I'd be by the way regular folks spend their Saturday nights. Maybe if I was sheltered by academia or life in a huge metro are this would've been more of a revelation :-)
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After four years of reading this lovely book exclusively on Saturday nights when I had nothing better to do, I'm finished! While it was published nearly 30 years ago, the frank humanity of a Saturday night still rings true today. I'm grateful for this book, and I highly recommend you spend a Saturday night reading it.
Rika Kumar
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some people spend their Satuday nights at a polka dancing place. Many people like to shop it up in Los Angeles. Others just like to simply kick back and watch some television. But the best way by far to spend a Saturday night is to read Saturday Night, by Susan Orlean.
Saturday Night, simply put, is the perfect combination of information and humor, each when on its own doesn't account for being Saturday Night worthy. In this book, Orlean elaborates on her experiences of stalking people as they
I misjudged this book. It is still my view that it is horribly out-of-date, but the chapters on the Bowery Mission in NYC, and Missile Defense in Wyoming surprised me pleasantly. I find myself referencing it more than I should for a book I find irrelevant, like when Saturday Night Live airs, or when I see city apartments with large dining rooms. This book does have some timeless observations, worth finding as you snicker through "the new advent of videocassette recorders" and the "LA mod scene."
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Susan Orlean's Saturday Night is one of my favorite works of creative non-fiction ever. She travels all around the country to find out what various eclectic groups of people in radically different locations are doing for fun, or attempts at fun, on Saturday night. The staff of a nuclear reactor, dieters at the Pritikin Institute venturing out into the dangerous outside world of food, young students at Princeton who all have incredibly high expectations for what their futures have in store for ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: My book club
For some reason, I just didn't connect deeply with this book. I attribute it mostly to a mild dislike of the characters, as I did appreciate the historical aspect of the story.
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a wonderful fun piece of Americana. All of the descriptions are familiar yet Susan Orlean's focus and description makes them much more.
Linsey Stevens
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever begrudgingly gotten ready to go out on a Saturday night, then wound up one of the last ones lingering at the party, spending the night on a sofa, or piling into someone's ride and heading to a 24 hour diner just to keep the good vibes going, you know what it's like to read "Saturday Night." Because it's a series of essays, I never felt eager to dive back in, but I committed to reading it cover to cover and am so glad I did. Thanks to "Zydeco" I'll never again have to make up words ...more
I read this book when it was new, and it's stayed with me all these years. Saturday night can be really lonely, really sad, really fun. It just depends on your definition of all of the above. I wish I hadn't lost this book along the way; I'd love to read it again and see how Saturday nights have changed.
Steven Yenzer
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous! Orlean is such an effortless and engaging writer. I can’t wait to read more by her.
Valerie Blanton
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Probably all I need to say by way of a review is that I started this book in August 2006 and finished it today.
Upon reading the non-fiction writing, one would be surprised that Saturday Night is Susan Orlean’s first book. Orlean brings the readers along on her journey to find out how the American people spend their Saturday nights. Orlean’s deep interest in the subject is seen as the reader progresses through the chapters, realizing that Orlean was strongly devoted to traveling across the United States to truly find out about the Saturday Night culture in the U.S. She writes of many different activities ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If it were up to me, I would rewrite Susan Orlean’s entire book, Saturday Night. I would just switch a couple words here and there, tweak the sentences a bit, tear out all the pages. And trust me, nobody will see the difference. This is how my new and improved version of Saturday Night would read:

Page 1

Chapter 1- Tree Saving

Saturday Night is different.

The End.

I bet you can’t find the difference.

Her idea was brilliant: document different people’s activities on one night of the week- Saturday
Jessica Harlan
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Orlean is one of my favorite essayists, I'm always excited when I open an issue of the New Yorker and find one of her articles inside. Saturday Night is the perfect opportunity to get my fill, and then some, of her voice. The book is an interesting premise - she examines why Saturday night is important to American society, and takes a look at some of the quintessential (and not-so-quintessential) ways to spend Saturday night across the United States, from babysitting, to waitressing in ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm assuming Susan Orlean was already an established journalist at this point, because this is the type of book I am surprised found a publisher. That's not to say it shouldn't have been published, I found the concept wonderful and the stories very entertaining. In this book, Susan Orlean examines the phenomenon of Saturday Night and why that night has such a specific and special meaning for us all. Each chapter observes a different form of celebrating (or not celebrating) Saturday night and all ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written and entertaining piece of non-fiction. Orlean's a master of description and wry humor. She puts you right there again and again, and I am a better non-fiction observer as a result.
Jul 13, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Twenty years ago, before she wrote The Orchid Thief or was hailed as “a national treasure” by The Washington Post, Susan Orlean was a journalist with a question: What makes Saturday night so special? To answer it, she embarked on a remarkable journey across the country and spent the evening with all sorts of people in all sorts of places—hipsters in Los Angeles, car cruisers in small-town Indiana, coeds in Boston, the homeless in New York, a lounge band in Portland, quinceañera revelers in ...more
Shweta Ramdas
The premise is intriguing: how do Americans spend their Saturday evenings, the one day restrained neither by the preceding morning nor by the following day? Orlean traipses through various towns in the country attempting to find out, each essay describing one activity. The polka-dancing and the murdering and cruising and riding-the-shag-bus were all fun to read about, but a sense of ennui set in about halfway-point, and I stopped caring about the stories and histories that lead to the regularity ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I read this a few years ago, when I was a younger journalist, and I thought it was so quirky and fun. Reading it now I see how well she builds context in many of the pieces. The details are fun and often funny, but the reason they work is the set-up. That said, the idea is better than the sum here. Some of the essays are brilliant: some are just too-long Talk of the Towns. I lost steam. There was little to distinguish them after a while. I needed more (and by that I mean different) Bog Thoughts ...more
Lauren MacMillan
What makes Saturday night so special? Orlean takes a journey around America and spent the evening with all sorts of people in all sorts of places to chronicle the one night of the week where we do the things we want to do rather than the things we need to do.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to give it 3 1/2 stars with the extra 1/2 for the chapter on the beloved Hilltop Steakhouse of Saugus, MA (RIP). I also enjoyed S.O.'s astonishment that 12-year-old babysitting girls in the late 80's were all watching The Golden Girls...yessssssssss.
Andrea Laurion
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Good book. If you're a curious person who loves going inside the world of understated but interesting people, check it out. I'd give it 4/5 but for every chapter I loved, there would one that dragged a bit. It's also pretty dated, though I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
David Alexander
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Orlean is the greatest living writer in America, if not the world. What I would give to be able to see the world through her eyes for just one day. A remarkable book, one of the greatest.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some dated references but a good read.
Kristin Fahrenholz
I love the idea. But it does seem a little outdated. But Orlean is always great at setting the scene and describing people and places.
Nov 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cruisers, lala dancers, high society
Recommended to Kate by: E 169.04.O8 1990
Leisure time shrinks by 32%.
Mar 04, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ref-booktalker
Listed as Q4 = Exceptional!, P3 = A booktalk on this title will excite most people’s interest
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started slow for me but ultimately enjoyed it.
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Orlean's Afterward touches on how our society has changed since she wrote this book. Considering that, this book is a really interesting look at how people spend time in special ways.
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I'm the product of a happy and uneventful childhood in the suburbs of Cleveland, followed by a happy and pretty eventful four years as a student at University of Michigan. From there, I wandered to the West Coast, landing in Portland, Oregon, where I managed (somehow) to get a job as a writer. This had been my dream, of course, but I had no experience and no credentials. What I did have, in ...more
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