Read Me community book project kicks off Monday with ‘The Orchid Thief’

Topics range from environmental ethics to storytelling and bizarre Boise lore.

STATESMAN STAFFFebruary 2, 2014 

Precious flowers, murky swamps, eccentric passions and flexible ethics are among the themes of Susan Orlean’s acclaimed nonfiction book, and all will be explored by Read Me Treasure Valley this year.

Programs span seven weeks, culminating in Orlean’s Boise appearance as part of The Cabin’s Readings and Conversations series. Other highlights include a screening of “Adaptation,” the 2002 movie inspired by “The Orchid Thief.”

Orlean’s best-seller, published in 1998, was sparked by a New Yorker article she wrote about a renegade plant dealer who teamed with several Seminole Indians to steal rare orchids from a Florida nature preserve.

Read Me Treasure Valley is sponsored by Ada Community Library, Boise Public Library, The Cabin, Boise State University’s Story Initiative and the Idaho Statesman. Funding comes from a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, plus contributions from the Boise and Ada Community libraries’ Friends programs.

More than 20 events, including book discussions in local libraries, are planned.

Read Me Kick-off: 11 a.m. Monday at the Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road. Hear about the book and the project in an appropriately natural setting.

Environmental Ethics: 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Boise Library at 4724 W. State St. College of Idaho Assistant Professor Greg McElwain examines ethical issues raised by “The Orchid Thief” and how our conceptions of human nature shape our ethical views and behavior toward the natural world.

Extreme Flora — Novelties from Across the Plant Kingdom: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at MK Nature Center, 600 S. Walnut St. Michael Mancuso of the Idaho Native Plant Society will present some of the biggest, toughest, oldest and most dangerous plants known.

Stopping Idaho’s Game Thieves: A Look at Poaching in the Gem State: 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ada Community Library Lake Hazel Branch, 10489 Lake Hazel Road. Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer Matt O’Connell discusses poaching history and cases, and efforts to combat it.

Journalism — Storytelling with a Purpose: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Hear from a panel of local journalists including the Statesman’s Dan Popkey and Rocky Barker as they discuss the process of investigating a story, as Susan Orlean did while developing “The Orchid Thief.”

Reading the “Book of Nature”: Nature Writing, Landscape Painting & Natural History: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. Boise State professor Samantha Harvey provides insight into the nexus of science, art and literature.

Wonderful & Weird Orchid Species: 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road. Janet Crist of the Treasure Valley Orchid Society offers an introduction to some fascinating species and tips on how to grow them at home. $10 member, $15 nonmember.

Boise Bizarre: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Boise Public Library Cole & Ustick Branch, 7557 W. Ustick Road. “The Orchid Thief” explores many eccentricities as it follows the main story. Learn some odd facts about Boise from BSU professor Todd Shallat.

“Adaptation” Screening with Michael Hoffman: 7 p.m. Monday, March 10, at the BSU Special Events Center, 1880 W. University Drive. Charlie Kaufman’s tragicomic tribulations while adapting “The Orchid Thief” for film are portrayed in this movie starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep; introduction by Idaho filmmaker Michael Hoffman. Offered in partnership with Boise International Student Video Festival. $2 Read Me donation is welcomed.

The Cabin presents Susan Orlean: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, at the Egyptian Theater, 700 W. Main St. The author will discuss her works and her perspectives. Tickets $15-58, available at

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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