10 books like Vanilla

By Tim Ecott,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Vanilla. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Thing in Disguise

By Kate Colquhoun,

Book cover of A Thing in Disguise : The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton

Well, thank god this book exists. It fills a huge gap—Joseph Paxton, an English architect, gardener, and engineer, as well as a lover of orchids—was everywhere, doing everything, in the 19th century United Kingdom! He built London’s Crystal Palace (cementing it as the first and possibly most grand World’s Fair in history) as well as directed all activities at Chatsworth (home to one of the world’s largest orchid collections in its time). The book shows us once again that the rich and powerful were not in complete control of the subtropical orchid trade—it took visionaries like Paxton to make them grow successfully in cold locations. I loved getting to know Paxton, his environs, and his relationships with all the well-known horticulturists and botanists of his age.

A Thing in Disguise

By Kate Colquhoun,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thing in Disguise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a biography of Joseph Paxton, horticulturist to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, architect of the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a great unsung hero of the Victorian Age. In the 19th century, which witnessed a revolution in horticulture and urban planning and architecture, Joseph Paxton, a man with no formal education, strode like a colossus. Head gardener at Chatsworth by the age of 23 and encouraged by the sixth Duke of Devonshire, whose patronage soon flourished into the defining friendship of his life, Paxton set about transforming this Derbyshire estate into the greatest…


Orchid Fever

By Eric Hansen,

Book cover of Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy

Hanson’s book is a wild ride. Look here to learn a lot about the global orchid trade and environmental politics of orchid collecting. Just one unforgettable quote in the book: "You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food, and cars, but once you're hooked on orchids, you're finished. You never get off orchids...never." – Hansen quoting Joe Kunisch, commercial orchid grower in New York.

I read this during a particularly difficult time in my life and am still thankful for its ability to transport me into strange and beautiful places.

Orchid Fever

By Eric Hansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Orchid Fever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed author of Motoring with Mohammed brings us a compelling adventure into the remarkable world of the orchid and the impossibly bizarre array of international characters who dedicte their lives to it.

The orchid is used for everything from medicine for elephants to an aphrodisiac ice cream. A Malaysian species can grow to weigh half a ton while a South American species fires miniature pollen darts at nectar-sucking bees. But the orchid is also the center of an illicit international business: one grower in Santa Barbara tends his plants while toting an Uzi, and a former collector has been…


Orchid

By Jim Endersby,

Book cover of Orchid: A Cultural History

A truly great addition to orchid history by a great master of botanical history at large. Endersby sets orchid culture in all of its larger historical contexts and adds intrigue and flare by following orchid fiction through the ages. It’s funny to boot! I'll be referring back to this book for years to come.

Orchid

By Jim Endersby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Orchid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At once delicate, exotic, and elegant, orchids are beloved for their singular, instantly recognizable beauty. Found in nearly every climate, the many species of orchid have carried symbolic weight in countless cultures over time. The ancient Greeks associated them with fertility and thought that parents who ingested orchid root tubers could control the sex of their child. During the Victorian era, orchids became deeply associated with romance and seduction. And in twentieth-century hard-boiled detective stories, they transformed into symbols of decadence, secrecy, and cunning. What is it about the orchid that has enthralled the imagination for so many centuries? And…


The Language of Flowers

By Odessa Begay,

Book cover of The Language of Flowers: A Fully Illustrated Compendium of Meaning, Literature, and Lore for the Modern Romantic

This book stands out from the pack of flower symbolism and history. Instead of a slew of garbage collected from hither and yon on the internet, Begay deeply researched every flower and came to decisive yet elegant histories and meanings for every plant—the chapter on orchids is great. The book is useful for any reader, historian, or gardener who wants to infuse their garden and home with meaning, and the illustrations are whimsical and beautiful.

The Language of Flowers

By Odessa Begay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Language of Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With gorgeous full-color illustrations, ornate decorative elements, lettering in metallic ink, and engaging text, The Language of Flowers: A Fully Illustrated Compendium of Meaning, Literature, and Lore for the Modern Romantic is a treasure for flower lovers. A sumptuous, contemporary anthology of 50 of the world's most storied and popular flowers, each of its entries offers insight to the meaning associated with the flower, and is a fascinating mix of foklore, classic mythology, literature, botanical information and popular culture.

Following an introduction that provides a short history of the language of flowers, a fad which reached its peak during the…


In the Event of Love

By Courtney Kae,

Book cover of In the Event of Love

This is the sapphic hallmark debut you’ve been waiting for. Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated LGBTQ Romances of 2022, this work delivers the heat. First of all, how dare this Courtney Kae. To jam pack this book with all of this hot cocoa coziness and small-town charm and have the nerve to make me want to slam the book closed and look around guiltily when the kiddos come around? Morgan is a hotshot event planner that needs an urgent and abrupt break from the LA scene. Moving back home should be easy but she bumps into her old flame and they work together to save a tree farm– a tree farm yall! I told you it was cozy AF. If you are looking for low angst memorable characters, adorable settings, and heat to steam your glasses. This book is it.

In the Event of Love

By Courtney Kae,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Event of Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Be one of the first to read this sneak preview sample edition!

Morgan Ross can plan world-class events, but she didn’t plan on returning to the hometown that broke her heart seven years ago—and re-discovering the girl of her dreams . . .

With her career as a Los Angeles event planner imploding after a tabloid blowup, Morgan Ross isn’t headed home for the holidays so much as in strategic retreat. Breathtaking mountain vistas, quirky townsfolk, and charming small businesses aside, her hometown of Fern Falls is built of one heartbreak on top of another . . .
 
Take her…


Eight Flavors

By Sarah Lohman,

Book cover of Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine

I worked my whole career in the flavor industry, so when Sarah Lohman published her book in 2016, I grabbed it from the shelves of the Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore in NYC. The book focuses on eight flavors, black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha, and traces back to when they first appeared in American cuisine. Lohman introduces the readers to a series of characters like explorers, merchants, botanists, farmers, writers, and chefs. For instance, in the first two chapters, we meet John Crowninshield, a merchant from New England who visited Sumatra in the 1790s to look for black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, was the one who randomly discovered the pollination method of the vanilla orchid flower that is still employed today on the island that produces eighty percent of…

Eight Flavors

By Sarah Lohman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eight Flavors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Very cool…a breezy American culinary history that you didn’t know you wanted” (Bon Appetit) reveals a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population that makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In “a unique and surprising view of American history…richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written” (The Atlantic), Lohman sets…


Glasshouse Greenhouse

By India Hobson, Magnus Edmondson,

Book cover of Glasshouse Greenhouse

I grew up in a house choked with books – falling out of the shelves and piling onto the floor. I developed a curious habit as a child: I would sniff the pages of every book I picked up. Some smell old, like vanilla and time, I discovered; others smell fresh, like rain after a drought. Well, Glasshouse Greenhouse smells so good it’s worth buying for its perfume alone! Seriously though, this is a visual treat, packed full of emerald-green plantscapes on every page. The authors start their journey around the world’s glasshouses just metres from where I sit typing these words at my place of work, Oxford Botanic Garden. To me, this makes it particularly special. 

Glasshouse Greenhouse

By India Hobson, Magnus Edmondson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glasshouse Greenhouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Glasshouse Greenhouse fuses together cultures and countries under one glass roof. In their debut book, photographers India Hobson and Magnus Edmondson take you on a worldwide journey through their favourite botanical spaces.

The Haarkon Greenhouse Tour began as a self-initiated adventure in Oxford's botanic garden four years ago. Since then, Magnus and India have visited countless locations in the UK, Europe, America, Asia and beyond in search of dream glasshouses and greenhouses, capturing dramatic palm houses, tropical hothouses and private potting sheds along the way.

Divided into seven thematic chapters - History, Specimen, Community, Research, Pleasure, Hobbyist and Architecture -…


Journeys to the Other Side of the World

By David Attenborough,

Book cover of Journeys to the Other Side of the World

Attenborough’s books describing his early travels while making various Zoo Quest films in the 1950s and early 1960s were republished in 2018 and it is a delight to re-read about the many challenges he faced to secure footage of enormously rare animals, especially as his tales are all delivered with brilliant British understatement. Attenborough has an acute eye for wildlife as well as a talent for communicating the atmosphere of a place and sympathy with the people he meets and charms. His films and his writing including on the lemurs of Madagascar had me dreaming of my own expeditions and adventures, and which ultimately I was lucky enough to make real.

Journeys to the Other Side of the World

By David Attenborough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journeys to the Other Side of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'With charm, erudition, humour and passion, the world's favourite natural history broadcaster documents some of his expeditions from the late 1950s onwards' Sunday Express

Following the success of the original Zoo Quest expeditions, the young David Attenborough embarked on further travels in a very different part of the world.

From Madagascar and New Guinea to the Pacific Islands and the Northern Territory of Australia, he and his cameraman companion were aiming to record not just the wildlife, but the way of life of some of the indigenous people of these regions, whose traditions had never been encountered by most of…


Lightning Flowers

By Katherine E. Standefer,

Book cover of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life

Having been called an “enigma” by a doctor on more than one occasion, I know well the frustrating battle of rare medical conditions. What I like about this book is the way Standefer finds beauty and wonder in physical ailments. 

Standefer wasn’t struck by lightning; she has a heart defect that could kill her and leads to her being fitted with a defibrillator while she is still in her 20s. Instead of becoming a passive patient, Standefer questions everything about her condition from her treatment to the metal that is now inside of her, traveling as far as Africa to track down where the metal is mined. Ill health has not shrunk her world, it has expanded it, an inspiring outlook for anyone who has ever spent time as a patient.

Lightning Flowers

By Katherine E. Standefer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lightning Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if a lifesaving medical device causes loss of life along its supply chain? That's the question Katherine E. Standefer finds herself asking one night after being suddenly shocked by her implanted cardiac defibrillator.

In this gripping, intimate memoir about health, illness, and the invisible reverberating effects of our medical system, Standefer recounts the astonishing true story of the rare diagnosis that upended her rugged life in the mountains of Wyoming and sent her tumbling into a fraught maze of cardiology units, dramatic surgeries, and slow, painful recoveries. As her life increasingly comes to revolve around the internal defibrillator freshly…


Life List

By Olivia Gentile,

Book cover of Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds

This is the true story of Phoebe Snetsinger and her bizarre and often dangerous quest to see more birds on the planet than any other human. Her quest to hold the world record for most bird species seen is a great story in itself but it is the way the author delves into Snetsinger’s character and her relationships with her family and others that are equally as fascinating. I love learning about what drives people to have absolute obsessions in life that they place above all else – relationships, health, safety, etc. I have been to many of the locations in the book and seen many of the bird species mentioned as well. The author captures all of this in a fast-paced book that will be loved by birders everywhere and anyone who wants a compelling read about obsession!

Life List

By Olivia Gentile,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After her four kids were nearly grown and she was about to turn 50, Phoebe Snetsinger was told she had less than a year to live. Snetsinger, a St. Louis housewife and avid backyard birder, decided to spend that year traveling the world in search of birds. As it turned out, her doctors were wrong, but Phoebe's passion had been ignited and she spent the next eighteen years crisscrossing the globe recklessly staking out her quarry. En route she contracted malaria in Zambia, nearly fell to her death in Zaire, and was kidnapped and gang raped on the outskirts of…


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