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H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

H Is for Hawk (2014)

by Helen Macdonald

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2,0341523,288 (3.87)1 / 327

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English (150)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All (152)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Oh man, I really wanted to love this book, and have been looking forward to reading it for a while. Perhaps that shaped my opinion of it.

I learned a lot about falconry, which was very engaging. What an intriguing and longstanding pastime

However, I mostly couldn't engage with it on an emotional level. I found it dry and meandering and disconnected. Disappointed by that aspect. ( )
  Abbey_Harlow | Oct 5, 2017 |
Part memoir, part nature essay, and part biography of eccentric author T.H. White, this book is difficult to categorize. Helen Macdonald decides to train a goshawk after her father's unexpected death, and the experience allows her to deal with her loss. Macdonald also writes about the parallels between her goshawk training experience and the English author T.H. White's disastrous goshawk experience, devoting chapter after chapter to the troubled author. Macdonald's writing is beautiful and thought-provoking, and worthy of the accolades this book has received. However, since I picked up this book because I was interested in the author's story and not a T.H. White biography, I was disappointed at times. Just when Macdonald starts to expose her grief and depression over her father's death, she quickly bates much like her hawk does at the beginning of training, and resumes writing about White.

Kathleen K. / Marathon County Public Library
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( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
About a third of the way through, I realized there were times when I was holding my breath for several pages on end, I was so tense. This is a lovely book, both as a personal memoir of Macdonald's grief and her training of Mabel (a goshawk), and also as a meditation on and response to T. H. White and his own account of goshawk-training. Beautifully written, and made to be savored. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Sep 23, 2017 |
Couldn't finish. Usually enjoy science based books but that imbecile White she keeps intertwining her story made me think she didn't have the material for her own book. ( )
  Alphawoman | Sep 14, 2017 |
This was my first book of 2017, and it was a marvelous choice with which to begin the new year. The book was January's read for the Eagle Harbor Book Group (Bainbridge Island, WA). I currently work on the island, hope to move to the island, and decided to explore the island's vibrant arts and culture scene. I can't think of a better way to get to know people and learn about and from island folks than a book group hosted by the locally owned independent bookstore. Less pragmatically and more spiritually speaking, the book was meant for me to read at this time and in this place. I could not have asked for a better read as I face the transition that comes with beginning a new life.

The last six months of 2016 had not been my favorite time. I knew I had to find a job post graduation. I had planned to be out of work no more than four months. I have a PhD, after all! I am well qualified for numerous jobs! What I discovered is very few people want to hire a PhD. The politics and economics of this reality are something I am mulling over, and I will not discuss here. What I know is that I seem to have secured an entry-level position I could have easily secured without $300,000 in student loans. I admit to being angry, bitter, hurt, and withholding of love or praise for the academy or my education. I am going through a loss of dreams and a recalibration of expectations. I am struggling through a death, of sorts.

H is for Hawk is about the struggle with loss of dreams and a recalibration of expectations. Macdonald, in this memoir chronicling her struggle over the death of her father, caught my imagination and instilled me with possibilities while giving me a comrade in the fight against depression and grief. This is a book of the sharing of deeply painful feelings, of the absurdities of continuing to live when it feels as if your life has stopped, of grasping at the finding of meaning when it seems meaning no longer exists. It took MacDonald five years to write her memoir. In reading the book, it is clear why: the book is filled with metaphors, metaphors that could only be explored through introspection on events of the past. Being in grief is exhausting and deliberative. Each move and decision made feels like moving a boulder. There is no energy to contemplate the meaning of actions or gifts. There is only energy to try to make it through the next moment. Unraveling the grief once the worst is over means reliving the grief to find meaning and gifts, an exhausting process in and of itself.

I am grateful for the camaraderie I found in H is for Hawk. In reading, I continually underlined passages familiar to my own experiences. Grief is hard to move through. Grief is hard to breathe through. Being alone is preferable to being in company and in crowds where there are far too many who are oblivious to the fact that your world has stopped. It is a small miracle to find the energy to accomplish a task. Slogging through grief is the only way to come out the other side. It was nice to have a kindred spirit. It was saving to hear someone else had suffered, too. Like Macdonald at the end of the book, I am beginning to see glimmers of a way forward. I consider H is for Hawk my New Year's gift. ( )
  Christina_E_Mitchell | Sep 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Helen Macdonald’s beautiful and nearly feral book, “H Is for Hawk,” her first published in the United States, reminds us that excellent nature writing can lay bare some of the intimacies of the wild world as well. Her book is so good that, at times, it hurt me to read it. It draws blood, in ways that seem curative.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (Feb 17, 2015)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Helen Macdonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wormell, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Forty-five minutes north-east of Cambridge is a landscape I've come to love very much indeed.
The archaeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten.
Using his pencil, he shaded the page of his notebook with graphite, and there, white on grey, impressed on the paper from the missing page above, was the registration number of the secret plane. He stopped crying, he said, and cycled home in triumph.
There is something religious about the activity of looking up at a hawk in a tall tree.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802123414, Hardcover)

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral anger mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Sword and the Stone author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her journey into Mabel’s world. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity.

By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement; a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast; and the story of an eccentric falconer and legendary writer. Weaving together obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history, H is for Hawk is a distinctive, surprising blend of nature writing and memoir from a very gifted writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:06 -0400)

"The falcon: a powerful, beautiful and charismatic predator, and the fastest animal in the world. Whether loved, hated, or feared, whether worshipped as a god, valued as a hunting companion, or used as a corporate or heraldic symbol, falcons have fascinated humans for millennia. This book sheds compelling new light on this extraordinary bird, and on the cultures through which it has flown. It includes falcon myths and legends, the ancient sport of falconry, falcons as denizens of modern cities, falcon natural history and conservation, and how falcons have been recruited as symbols and weapons of war. Illustrated and packed with a wealth of fascinating information, Falcon will be an indispensable guide to a fascinating animal."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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