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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Kyo Maclear (P)2017 Simon & Schuster

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A Year In The Life

I really enjoyed this throughly engaging bio written over the course of one year. Maclear has broad interests and a discerning eye for the small detail and at the same time the big picture. Several times while listening I scrambled to click the bookmark on my device to save a thought or idea. To me, Maclear's use of vocabulary was excellent and her skilled phrasing of an insight really hit the mark and captured the essence of a problem or issue. In short, the author was able to put complex ideas into words beautifully and convey them to the reader with simple ease.

I've read several reviews that found this book was very like the book H is for Hawk. I am not sure I agree with that thinking. While both books were written by a woman, contemplative in nature and involved birds as a vehicle for exploring life, they were very different books. H is for Hawk was a dark, solitary and brooding meditation that focused on, for the most part one bird, Mable, a hawk the author was training. This was an up close relationship with one bird.

In Birds Art Life Maclear is a very busy, relatively upbeat mother of young children with a husband, lots of activities and yoga classes. She was writing about exploring birds by shadowing a birder for a year. This involved learning about lots of different birds, usually observed from a distance. In reality these were very different books with extremely disparate outlooks on life, loss and our individual place in the world.

Don't get me wrong--I enjoyed both of these books very much. Just don't go into this book looking for more of Helen Macdonald. This is 100 percent Maclear and stands well on its own. Perfect for a reader who wants to learn to expand their connection with nature and glean some of the author's thoughts on living in a complex world.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful