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Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo…
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Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation

by Kyo Maclear

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I liked this book. I found it thought-provoking and meditative. I feel a connection (or would like to feel) with North-East part of America and this book helped consolidate that feeling. I'd like to visit there and see and feel the things she describes, first hand. ( )
  oldblack | Oct 13, 2017 |
When Maclear found herself "unmoored" and unable to concentrate on writing, she joined a musician who had treated his artistic doldrums by birdwatching and photographing birds in Toronto. She accompanied the unnamed musician on his bird walks for one year, writing about her experience and thoughts in chapters arranged by the month, each having a motif.

At one point she speaks of "spark birds", the first time I've heard this phrase that refers to the bird that sparked personal interest. I was happy to find Audubon's spark bird was the same as mine, a phoebe. My phoebe came back year after year to build a nest on the same spot on the wall beside the door of our weekend house in a remote area of northern Alberta. Maclear goes on to consider "spark books", another intriguing topic that naturally had me thinking of what book had sparked my interest in reading.

Maclear's memoir is profound without being scholarly, gentle, but never bland. There are many moments of quiet brilliance that demanded to be recorded in my own journal. Although birds feature large, this is not a book about birds, but about life. It is an absolute jewel.

I discovered Kyo Maclear through The Fog, an Early Reviewer win that led me to The Specific Ocean, another of her excellent children's books. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Jul 17, 2017 |
The Cover:
Simplistic in its beauty, Birds Art Life has a cover that is just meant to stand out. The doodles of birds – black and stark against the pure white – pop out even more than the brightly colored words. I usually pass on white backgrounds but for this, it is absolutely perfect.

The Review:
This book is beautiful. Incredibly well written, thought provoking and interesting. Kyo Maclear takes us on a journey throughout a year’s time, where she is set to learn the understandings of bird watching. We travel with her and her friend, lovingly referred to as The Musician throughout, as Maclear becomes more knowledgeable in her studying of birds.

This should be expected from the title, of course. But there is so much more. We are introduced to her family history. We are introduced to her art. We are introduced to her reading. She is able to take these parts of bird watching and use what she learns from these birds and what it takes to watch them and make it relatable to her life.

I found this to be a quick read. It was really enjoyable and incredibly well written. And I felt, afterward, as if I actually knew Maclear – which, I suppose, really is the hope when writing a memoir.

We learn of multiple parts of her – as a daughter whose father’s health is failing; as a mother of two children; as a wife to a loving husband; as an artist; as a writer. She is incredibly honest within these 240 pages. You are able to join her as she discusses feeling stuck, of feeling like she has lost her creative spark. I read this at a time when I was going through something similar; watching her grow throughout her year was inspirational.

If you are a fan of memoirs, read this. If you are a fan of watching others overcome, read this. If you have a slight interest in birds, read this – I personally do not have an interest in bird watching but found the information spread throughout incredibly interesting. ( )
  bookcoverjudge | Jul 6, 2017 |
This deceptively gentle book began as a sort of memoir by the author when her father becomes ill and she searches for a way to deal with this. She befriends a musician who also happens to photograph birds and follows him for a year. In the process, she learns not only about birds, but about herself, and her family. A lot of insight and wisdom is packed into this lovely little volume. There is a short passage from Maclear as she contemplates her sons' independence and freedom to be kids:

- "We had been coming to our tiny cabin for ten years, trading modern conveniences for cool, sweet lake water. Any issues I had with communal dining, theme nights, bonfire singalongs (camp is an introvert's nightmare) were offset by the joy of watching my sons wander independently on the land. Most days, they left in the morning and returned - grubby, scuffed, and sometimes bleeding - after nightfall.
It was this self-reliance and freedom, so familiar to my own childhood, that I hoped to kindle. By the time I was nine, I roved freely around the neighbourhood until dark. My mother, busy minding her Japanese art gallery, left the leash long.
Thirty years later, in the same city, my children rarely strayed from our home or garden. As a parent who sat somewhere in the middle of the helicopter-laissez-faire spectrum, I wondered what it meant for their independence to be so severely compromised. I wondered and yet I found it hard to let them go. Other parents probably wondered too. Maybe we were just worried about the cold opinion of our peers if we didn't cosset our children enough. All I know is the neighbourhood was full of incarcerated children.
Having entered one of the most profoundly chaperoned moments in history, I wanted my sons to experience the kind of unstructured play that builds courage and curiosity. So late summer had become a time of jailbreak." ( )
  jessibud2 | Jun 17, 2017 |
A book that found me at the perfect moment. I was feeling stressed with all the things that needed to be done before Christmas, anxiety ridden because time was running out. I started reading this book at night, a month at a time, loved how this bookman divided by months, and since the author was also having a problem with anxiety, her struggles helped me with my own. Of course hers were forma different and more important reason than mine were, her father's failing health, feeling closed in and worried about losing her creativity.

Married, with two young boys, she, with the help of a bird loving musician friend, takes to walking and noticing the birds in her vicinity. I loved that she looked form and learned about the common birds in her area, studying books, and learning patience in her struggle. I loved the month where she discusses the importance of little things, how sometimes they are overlooked for bigger things, bigger gestures. She goes on to lost small books that had big messages, made a big impact. Reminded me that taking things a little at a time was less overwhelming. Another month discusses authors who had an outside hobby and how they seemed more content, well rounded.

Many other insightful discussions, a great resource for writers and non writers alike. Enjoyed this very much. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | Jan 5, 2017 |
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