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My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  662 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Susan Orlean has been called “a national treasure” by The Washington Post and “a kind of latter-day Tocqueville” by The New York Times Book Review. In addition to having written classic articles for The New Yorker, she was played, with some creative liberties, by Meryl Streep in her Golden Globe Award—winning performance in the film Adaptation.
Now, in My Kind of Place, the
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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Elissa Washuta
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved these essays. I do not gravitate toward "travel writing" because I do not travel and so I just don't usually have any way to identify with it in any way. But I found this on a list of best nonfiction books and so I went with it. Orlean's "everywhere" included the Bridgewater Mall near where I grew up in New Jersey and the home of a woman in NJ who kept a crap-load of tigers--a story I knew well, I thought, but Orlean rendered the characters with such lively energy. And, man, her endings! ...more
alana Semuels
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
These aren't really travel stories, but rather New Yorker-type stories about weird and strange people and events around the world that Orlean attends. Highlights are one about a taxidermy collection (one guy makes a stuffed panda by combining two bears, which are legal to kill, unlike pandas), one about climbing Mt. Fuji, and one about a pageant in the South. Some of the short humor pieces at the end don't quite fit in the book, but they're still pretty amusing. Defintely recommended for anyone ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved it!
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
This is an enjoyable but uneven collection of essays about places and cultures in the U.S. and around the world. Most were originally printed in the New Yorker between 1992 and 2003. The title seems obliquely inspired by the Frank Sinatra song, 'My Kind of Town', which is mentioned in passing in one of the longest and best pieces in the collection, 'All Mixed Up'. It's a close look at an independent grocery in Queens, and it offers a magnificent portrait of the rhythms of the store, the ...more
Mary Havens
Nov 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I really tried with this book. Abandoned on page 156.
I loved The Library Book and The Orchid Thief (planning to read that one again) and semi-enjoyed The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup (some stories were great, others o.k. Like any collection).
This one - I started it and wasn’t super into it but figured that was just that particular short story. Nope. The stories felt too short and really choppy. I guess I enjoy Orlean best when she is writing long form journalism/books (?). I even put the book
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: chicklit, travel
I was going to buy this book in SF a few weeks ago, but my cards wouldn't cover it and the author whose picture is on the cover looked like kind of an asshole, so I easily gave that up. But checked it out at the library cause they had it a few weeks ago.

I don't know why this book was in the travel section. Sure, the stories took place in locations all over the country and world (sort of), but the stories had hardly anything to do with the locations. More like events that took place that
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Emma Komlos-Hrobsky (Assistant Editor, Tin House Magazine): In reading Susan Orlean’s My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere, an anthology of her best travel writing, I’ve been thinking about what makes Orlean’s nonfiction genuinely charming where others’ writing in the same vein can feel twee to me. So much of her material here might seem to write itself; how could an essay about tiger hoarders in suburban New Jersey or little league basebull under the thumb of ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love Susan Orlean's writing, even that article about her walking desk (yes, that one). This collection includes great reported pieces on everything from animal hoarders and NYC grocery stores to fertility blessings in Bhutan. A few pieces get a little overwrought with description or a little silly, but most are thoughtful travel essays with fun quips dropped in like "never go anywhere without a sweatshirt, a string of pearls, and a big, elegant scarf, which can be used as a dress, a shawl, a ...more
Lori Schiele
Susan Orlean is a travel writer for, mostly, the New York Times, and in this book, she shares some of her most odd adventures that she has had published for the Times, or occasionally in other places. She shares her trips to the World Taxidermy Championship, climbing to the top of Mt. Fuji, trawl Icelandic waters with Keiko, (the Killer Whale from "Free Willy"), explore the halls of a New York City high school known as "Horror High" and meet with a woman who hoards 23 tigers in Jackson, New ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: journalism
Orleans travel stories don't remind me of typical, heavy New Yorker profiles, which I suppose they aren't. I think the most memorable story was the longer one near the beginning of the collection about a neighborhood grocery store in Queens, NY, if I recall.
One thing I liked is how fearless she was about listing all the wild ethnic foods that different kinds of people would seek in the store.
And, when she tells you the owner likes to listen to Sinatra all day, she then writes five more sentences
Jason Jordan
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
My Kind of Place has several interesting essays. I particularly like those that focus on a certain location instead of a region. For instance, "All Mixed Up" centers on a grocery store in Queens, New York, rather than Queens itself. Some end too abruptly, I think, but most are informative and fascinating. It would've been helpful for Orlean to have worked the year into each essay--even in a roundabout way--so that the reader would have a clear(er) sense of context. I also think that the ...more
Mar 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Heard this as a book on tape. Not so much travel stories as stories about places. Some wonderful sentences in there, but some very long stories that needed serious editing as well. Probably wouldn't have finished the book but it's a long drive home, so I finished the tape.

I was constantly wondering how she managed to report conversations with people when she didn't appear to speak any languages. I will remember some of these places and people, though, and that's the sign of a good book, no?
Feb 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: okay
I tend not to read travel narratives, except the 'Emily Murphy's boat sank, she lost her passport and her shoes' type, because my wanderlust is force to be reckoned with. It's not something I can handle continually stirring if I plan to remain in my normal life. By the end of the first chapted of a Bill Bryson or Pico Iyer book, I'm halfway out the door with a bike lock in one hand and a super-absorbent towel in the other. But while these particular stories were nice to read, they were not ...more
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, travel
It's Susan Orlean. Come on.
Rachel Hyland
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the best books I read in 2018 was The Library Book by Susan Orlean. It’s an astonishing achievement, all about a 1980s fire in an LA public library and the investigation into it, but also about the establishment of that library, and what we love about libraries, and books, and community. It’s hilarious, it’s thrilling, it’s thought-provoking, it’s sad. It’s just wonderful and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Imagine my delight, then, when I was going through my plentiful unread books,
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
I'm on a mission to read as many of Susan Orlean's writings as possible!! I'm also reading much of it to mu husband who suffers from macular degeneration and no longer reads easily.
Orleans transports us with her writing; taking any subject and bringing it alive. Non-fiction I cannot put down!!
In this tome, she refers to places she has visited for various reasons, where one also meets the locals and gets a personal sense of the place. She takes us to a neighborhood grocery store in Jackson
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I read Orlean's "The Orchid Thief", loved it, and decided to give her another read. These are little vignettes about places, many cities, where the author has traveled, or travelled through. She skillfully shows the reader the extraordinary in the ordinary, the chaotic beauty of neighborhoods, the sublime in the mundane. Wonderful to keep at your bedside and allow the author to carry you away and immerse you one story at a time.
Barbara Q
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m usually not fond of books of essays and these were all written 15 to 20 years ago, so seemed a little stale. There were some delightful chapters though, among them: stories about a lady and her tigers, Keiko the whale, little girl beauty pageants, Mt. Fuji and trailer park life.

I liked this author’s books about libraries (The Library Book) and rare orchids (The Orchid Thief) better.
Bryanna Plog
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Orlean's writing and get lost in her sentences and stories at the same time I learn about things I would have never thought to explore (taxidermy conferences, Cuban baseball, children's beauty pageants, etc). I thought more of this would be travel writing, but still a wonderful collection!
Sarah Ewald
Some of these stories are a bit dated, but still interesting. Loved the ones about the taxidermist's convention, the tiger sanctuary lady, and the fertility festival in Bhutan... (not all in the same story...)
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book consists of a series of stand alone stories about various locations, within the United States as well as overseas. Although some are more interesting than others, you will certainly find a few that you really like:)
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
lovely collection of her articles. especially liked the one about the sunshine market (all mixed up) and mobile home parks (we just up and left)
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stellar writing as usual from one of my faves. Her empathy and genuine enthusiasm, interest, fascination, and curiosity in people, things, places, and events shines through in her work.
Sarah Rigg
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like how Orlean digs into everyday life and examines the weird and wonderful among the mundane.
Joyce Richards
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked this up at the Macomb Friends of the Library book sale last fall because it was a $2 hardback and because the first essay is about something that happened in Springfield, IL (where my sister lives). OH, and because it's by Susan Orlean, one of my all-time favorite writers. But I thought it might be one of those weird publishing company things where, without even really involving the author, they just compiled a bunch of random essays without thoughtfully tying things together (like ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Orlean is best known for The Orchid Thief, which was recast as the movie Adaptation. These essays similarly cast ordinary people in a most extraordinary light, from parents of beauty pageant girls to Cuban farmers. Critics don't call her one of our best essayists for nothing. Orlean approaches her subjects with intense curiosity and fairness, has an unusually good ear for language and dialogue, and arrives at perceptive conclusions about human behavior. Still, My Kind of Place is an uneven

Kelly Lynn Thomas
Read for my Travel Writing class. Some of the pieces were really, really good, but others were kind of stupid and not really travel pieces (like the one about her life as a series of performance pieces--cutesy, not a travel piece). The best ones were, in my opinion, "Where's Willy?", "Royalty", and the one about her climbing Mount Fuji in Japan, which has a very long, very silly name.

The thing that gets me about this book is that you can tell that Susan Orlean has led a fairly privileged life.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not bad. There were stories that I found interesting, the one about Keiko for example, and others that just seemd like filler i.e the one about Tina Turner.

As others have noted, many of the stories came to an abrupt end, which I found odd given the attention to detail that the author paid throughout the story.

I also think it was a mistake for the author to have read her own book. She is clearly a very talented writer, but narration is not her strong suit and I think it contributed to my low
Mike Maginot
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin book, I was ready to see how the author approached a “travel book”. My Kind of Place contains several entertaining essays covering everything from a gathering of taxidermists in Springfield, Illinois to the phallic statues and fertility rites that she observed in Bhutan. According to Orlean, Bangkok, Thailand is “a place to disappear”, but first you have to check your email. It’s really a book about people, a lady who collects tigers, a painter that makes the ...more
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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