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list price: $39.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Hardcover
category: Nature
published: Oct 2005
ISBN:9780385660488
publisher: Doubleday Canada

The Bedside Book of Birds

An Avian Miscellany

by Graeme Gibson

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birdwatching guides
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $39.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback Hardcover
category: Nature
published: Oct 2005
ISBN:9780385660488
publisher: Doubleday Canada
Description

In this stunning assemblage of words and images, novelist and avid birdwatcher Graeme Gibson has crafted an extraordinary tribute to the venerable relationship between humanity and birds.

Birds have ever been the symbols of humanity’s highest aspirations. As divine messengers, symbols of our yearning for the heavens, or avatars of glorious song and colour, birds have stirred our imaginations from the moment we first looked up into the sky.

Whether as the Christian dove, or the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, or in Plato’s representation of the human soul growing wings and feathers, religion and philosophy have looked to birds as representatives of our best selves — that part of us not bound to the earth.

With the devotion of a birder and hoarder of words, Gibson has spent twenty years collecting the literary and artistic forms our affinity for birds has taken over the centuries. Birds appear again and again in mythology and folk tales and in literature by writers as diverse as Aesop, Shakespeare, Poe, Coleridge, Borges, and Eliot. They’ve been omens, allegories, disguises and guides; they’ve been worshipped, eaten, feared, and loved. Nor does Gibson forget the fascination birds hold for science, as the Galapagos finches did for Darwin. Birds appear charmingly and tellingly in the work of such naturalists as W.H. Hudson, Peter Matthiessen, Farley Mowat, and Barry Lopez.

So intensely and universally are we drawn to birds, it’s small wonder that birdwatching is one of the most popular activities in the English-speaking world.

Gorgeously illustrated and woven from centuries of human response to the delights of the feathered tribes, The Bedside Book of Birds is for everyone who is passionate about birds and all they mean to humanity.

“With the zeal of a convert and the instigated imagination of an ex-novelist, I started taking note of, then collecting, and finally obsessively searching out texts that illustrated something — almost anything — about our human response to birds. This book is the result. It isn’t so much about birds themselves as it is about the richly varied relationships we have established with them during the hundreds of thousands of years that we and they have shared life on earth.”
—Graeme Gibson

About the Author
Graeme Gibson is the acclaimed author of Five Legs, Communion, Perpetual Motion, and Gentleman Death. He is a long-time cultural activist, and co-founder of the Writer's Union of Canada and the Writers' Trust. He is a past president of PEN Canada and the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and is a Member of the Order of Canada. He lives in Toronto.
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Contributor Notes

Graeme Gibson is the acclaimed author of Communion, Perpetual Motion, and Gentleman Death. He is a past president of PEN Canada and the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and is a member of the Order of Canada. He lives in Toronto with writer Margaret Atwood.

Editorial Review

A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
"The most compulsively readable of a clutch of bird-themed books out this autumn. Taking in everything from classic nature-writing to poetry via folklore and Mayan creation myths, The Bedside Book Of Birds is by no means for 'twitchers' only."
Daily Mail (London)

"The perfect book for armchair ornithologists with an eye for words as well as feathers."
The Daily Telegraph (London)

"A wonderful collection of poetry and prose, folk tales and myths, which pay tribute to our feathered friend. . . . A perfect Christmas present, even for non-anoraks."
Mail on Sunday (UK)

"Anyone who has watched birds, studied them, given them the least attention,will find this a treat. It is a compilation of writings that celebrate themany ways people have engaged with birds - made companions of them,mythologised them, hunted and eaten them. There's an account of a mocking thrush drinking from Charles Darwin's hand on the voyage of the Beagle, and of a woman in Ohio who incubated 50 hens' eggs by laying them alongside the body of her dying, fevered husband. This book is well worth buying for the illustrations alone."
New Scientist
"The diversity of the book's offerings is testament to Gibson's superb researching skills, and the final product reflects well upon his aesthetic sense, resulting in a wonderful marriage of word and image. The breadth and depth of the offerings are impressive, and each visit between the covers will leave you inspired and a little wiser. I cannot think to ask more of a book. It will entertain and enlighten birder and non-birder alike, and it will occupy a prominent position on the bookshelf, close to hand."
Nova Scotia Birds
"The beauty of the writing and the illustrations contained in The Bedside Book of Birds is matched by the beauty of the physical book itself. Great pains have been taken by the author and the publisher to make this book a work of art, and they have succeeded marvellously."
The Globe and Mail
"The most spectacular bird book of the year."
The Globe and Mail
"An astoundingly beautiful book . . . featur[ing] some of the most sublime writings to be found on the subject."
The Globe and Mail

The Bedside Book of Birds is a superb gift, a compulsive must-have, for the bird-lover, the storyteller, and the anthropologist in the family. As a collection it is exemplary of how fascination can re-order the world. Readers will be thinking feathered thoughts for days and they will be happier.”
The Calgary Herald
“This book in the hand is worth two on the shelf.”
The Calgary Herald
“A beautiful volume, sumptiously illustrated.”
The Vancouver Sun

“[Gibson]’s book is a stunner. The wealth of imagery and the range of intelligence are grand, the kinds of relationships with birds he sets out nearly bewildering…. Gorgeous…. It’s what I’ll take to bed tonight to incite my dreams.”
—Barry Lopez

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