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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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This book is one of those books that could also have had a good life as a blog. There are frequent references to YouTube videos or online personas that I wanted to look up immediately upon reading about. Regardless, this is a short and but impactful book that left me with quite a bit to think about. In this book, Maclear uses birding over the course of a year as a way to deal with the emotions surrounding her aging father. Her narrative style is interesting and often reads more like a journal or notebook with her private thoughts being publicly broadcast. However, this means the book can be frustrating at times because it often seems like there is more to both storylines but the author is holding back both in terms of fully discussing these topics.

Its also one of the best books I have read about a normal person processing the effects of climate change. I feel like most of the books on climate change are either a purely scientific book or some sort of futuristic dystopia. This is neither and its incredibly refreshing to read about a very personal response to mankind's impact on both bird populations and the Earth at large. ( )
  pbirch01 | Aug 30, 2018 |
A book about the author's discovery of a new world of birds and the aging of her dad. Both ideas are not fully expressed leaving the reader wanting more. Some good bon mots, but I found most of them facile, lacking in depth, something one might find on a Starbucks cup. It's worth the trip because the book is short. It didn't change life with any out-of the-world insight. ( )
  charlie68 | Feb 26, 2018 |
Thank you to the publisher and goodreads for a free copy of this book.

Sometimes, I stumble across the perfect book at the perfect time. When I picked up Birds Art Life, it was in a hospital room, sitting next to my grandfather as he recovered from a serious heart attack. I was overwhelmed, burned out, stressed about my writing, and feeling like I desperately needed a creative outlet but wasn't even sure how to go about that.

Birds Art Life was exactly what I needed. A book about birds, about family, about the magic in everyday life, about quietness and nature. The book itself is beautiful -- the words themselves, the sheer simple beauty of the illustrations.

Every word shines. Every paragraph shines. This was the perfect book to sit down and savour, the embodiment of pausing to take a breath. So beautiful. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
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 |
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"A writer's search for inspiration, beauty, and solace leads her to birds in this intimate and exuberant meditation on creativity and life--a field guide to things small and significant. When it comes to birds, Kyo Maclear isn't seeking the exotic. Rather she discovers joy in the seasonal birds that find their way into view in city parks and harbors, along eaves and on wires. In a world that values big and fast, Maclear looks to the small, the steady, the slow accumulations of knowledge, and the lulls that leave room for contemplation. A distilled, crystal-like companion to H is for Hawk, Birds Art Life celebrates the particular madness of chasing after birds in the urban environment and explores what happens when the core lessons of birding are applied to other aspects of art and life. Moving with ease between the granular and the grand, peering into the inner landscape as much as the outer one, this is a deeply personal year-long inquiry into big themes: love, waiting, regrets, endings. If Birds Art Life was sprung from Maclear's sense of disconnection, her passions faltering under the strain of daily existence, this book is ultimately about the value of reconnection--and how the act of seeking engagement and beauty in small ways can lead us to discover our most satisfying and meaningful lives"-- "A writer's search for inspiration, beauty, and solace leads her to birds in this intimate and exuberant meditation on creativity and life"--… (more)

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