While birding literature is filled with tales of expert observers spotting rare species in exotic locales, John Yow reminds us that the most fascinating birds can be the ones perched right outside our windows. In thirty-five engaging and sometimes irreverent vignettes, Yow reveals the fascinating lives of the birds we see nearly every day. Following the seasons, he covers forty-two species, discussing the improbable, unusual, and comical aspects of his subjects' lives. Yow offers his own observations, anecdotes, and stories as well as those of America's classic bird writers, such as John James Audubon, Arthur Bent, and Edward Forbush. This unique addition to bird literature combines the fascination of bird life with the pleasure of good reading.
©2011 John Yow (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I very much enjoyed the book. In fact, I am inspired to get a feeder for our small urban garden. We have many of the same species he discusses.
With all that, why 4 stars rather than 5? My only critique is that instead of numbered chapters, I'd like titles of each section to be whatever bird is discussed in each part so I can go directly to that part of the text as a handy later reference.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
"The Armchair Birder" is about a niche topic that is written so well, and with such charm and wit, it would captivate the most bird-indifferent imagination. For birders, especially the casual and recreational, Yow is the bee's knees.
The great thing about Yow’s book is that it’s all about familiar birds—what we see and hear about everyday, not the exotic: Bluejays, woodpeckers, mourning doves, eagles, wild turkeys, owls.
The anecdotes alone make for a memoir not soon forgotten. Yow talks about bird feelings and behaviors—you'll recognize some personalities from your own human family! It was as if the birds themselves were talking to Yow and sharing all their secrets.
John has done an excellent job of making a documentary on familiar birds interesting and enjoyable. I both have a signed copy of the hardback as well as the downloaded audible book. Imagine my delight when I learned that Kevin Young performed the audible edition. Kevin always makes you feel that he is the actual author as he speaks any text with a tone that is so authentically engaged that you also become engaged. Well done both of you!!
The best thing is everything in my opinion. John's writing style is fluid and so very descriptive. Each bird has a separate essay dedicated to it. One bird, or one chapter, is easily read just before bed. An excellent way to wind down the day.
Each time I read the book, which has been two or three times a year since I first purchased the book in its hardback form (I imagine it will be more often now that I have the audible version as well) I am caught up again and again with the very first story about the Carolina Wren.
The audible form is a satisfying listen. John Yow's words in Kevin Young's voice is a perfect collaboration. You will be tempted to listen all in one sitting. (in fact, you'll most likely enjoy it over and over again) but chapter at a time is also enjoyable. Because these are separate essays, there aren't an army of characters to get to know, no plot to build up to, and if you're interrupted, fear not, it's a short rewind to start a chapter over again.
I was so pleased the book was narrated by Kevin Young. John Yow's book deserved a good narrator. I love my hardcover book and was so afraid the audible version would let me down. But, much to my surprise, I was lifted even higher on the wings of the birds I love so much.
I loved it. Fascinating to hear all about the habits and behavior of the everyday birds surrounding us. Great book
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