My mom is a "fan" of Asperger's Syndrome. I think it is a mix of the world I've grown up in -- I think it is pretty clear I don't have it, but I'm sure some of the behaviour feels familiar to her from me and my various friends she's met.
But that's not the relevant part of this article. Rather, this insight:
Osborne's book is a fabulous example of the rather old-fashioned -- and, sadly, largely outmoded -- notion of allowing a curious, intelligent writer loose on a subject that interests him, even though he or she might not be a "known expert" or "specialist" in the field. What Osborne does have on his side is considerable: research, passion, clarity of thought, the ability to impart information in a way that's readable and entertaining.
I predict that that is going to change (become less outmoded). My evidence from this is Seabiscuit. This was a book that was floating around the family and I took a day off from my stack to read it. It was a pretty remarkable story... but the joy for me was the meticulous research. Everything was thoroughly backed up, and yet it read as fast as anything.
The point was it was written, over four years, as a book of passion. And based on how well it did (we'll see about the movie, next year), I'd expect we'll get a similar flood. I hope what the publishers recognize is not that the public has a latent interest in horseracing... but that the public is presently interested in books by and for the public, about a personal interest. I consider this a shift, from a recent trend of wanting books by expertise. Yes, often there can be an intersection (one does not become an expert on an obscure topic for the money), but a layman offers a less cynical and self-promoting perspective.
I'm probably not saying anything. Seabiscuit was pretty good and the above book looks pretty interesting.