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Publisher's Summary

Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. 

In Vesper Flights, Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife. 

By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us. 

©2020 Helen Macdonald (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Vesper Flights

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Pure delight

Reading the title essay, printed in the NYT before the book's publication, I was floored by the beauty, depth, and clarity of Macdonald's writing. The rest of the book was equally impressive, and made richer by the author's pitch-perfect reading.

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Total delight - do get this book!

What a pleasure to dip and soar through these reflections on nature, animals, birds, perception, love, grief, and so much more. Each essay was quite different, but the overall collection was knit together beautifully. The language was stunning (Helen is also a poet). And humor was everywhere! A further pleasure: the author reading the book. Her voice with its gentle accent made the experience of listening to it feel all the more personal. She’s a gracious, self-deprecating, and very funny person.

This is a perfect book for enhancing your own experience of engaging with the natural world. The essay form allows you to dip into bits of writing, ideal for calming down at the end of the day or taking a break.