Jun 4, 2010

The Life of the Skies

Birding at the End of Nature
by Jonathan Rosen

A musing sort of book about birdwatching. The author describes some of his own experiences engaged in birding, and his thoughts on it, while also examining the presence of birds in poetry, literature, religious writings and the minds and lives of past Americans. The words of Darwin, Audubon, Robert Frost, Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, Emily Dickinson and others are threaded throughout the narrative, all in relation to birds. Honestly, I struggled with this book. I liked reading the parts about Rosen's personal experiences with birds, particularly his trips to Louisiana swamps hoping to see an ivory-billed woodpecker (supposedly extinct now). But the parts on history veered between being outright dull or meandering off-topic. The nature writing was uninteresting. The bits about poetry I simply could not focus on. Eventually I found myself skimming through the book, looking for the parts that were about direct experience, or interesting historical tidbits, and just reading those. I feel like the only thing I really got out of this book was a realization how many poems are about birds. It seems this book was just not for me. Plenty of other readers appreciated it well (see links below).

I borrowed this book from the library.

Rating: 2/5........ 324 pages, 2008

More opinions at:
The Nature of Things
Nature Calling
Birdfreak
Science on Tap

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