Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris is one of those books where the premise sounds intriguing but you aren’t quite sure if the entire book is going to measure up. In this case, it did. It’s unexpectedly exciting and unusual for what I would normally choose to read for myself.
Strand is written by Bonnie Henderson who is a self titled “Forensic CoastWatcher”. She lives in Oregon and enjoys not only collecting items which wash up on the Oregon shore, but learning how what they are and where they come from. Items that she has found on the coast have led her as far away as Japan and China on personal explorations to learn the stories behind the items she has found. In her words:
Ultimately, it was the stories I prized most. Everything on the beach has one – every discarded bottle, every dead seabird chick. Even when you can’t get the whole story, the quest becomes a story in itself. And in the end, those are the best stories anyway.
Truly, she takes washed up floating glass bubbles and old shoes and makes them fascinating stories commanding attention. This book is a true testament to the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What you or I might see as garbage she sees as history. Each item has meant something to someone and she enjoys finding out exactly what it’s meaning was. An avid beachcomber, Henderson spends most of her time collecting and examining debris along the Oregon coast. Since I live in Oregon I found much to identify with in the stories and places she related but you wouldn’t need to be an Oregonian to identify with this story. Anyone who likes the idea of treasure hunting, history or just enjoys a good story will enjoy this book in some capacity.
Again, this isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up to read but all the same I found it quite fascinating and enjoyed hearing the extent of Henderson’s labors to find out about any given object she has stumbled across. This is an “off the beaten path” sort of book that you just might find enticing. Check it out!
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.