Book Review: Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald – “hugely readable, yet endlessly thought-provoking”

 

Reading Helen Macdonald’s 2014 book H is for Hawk was highly memorable for me. As I wrote in my review, “this is a book which makes one look afresh at man’s links with nature. In a time when we are rightly focused on global, big-picture problems, it nevertheless reminds us of the values we derive from being individually and inextricably bound to our own heritage and community”.

Macdonald’s latest work, Vesper Flights continues on the same theme, this time expanding on the glory and importance of our differences in a collection of vivid and powerful essays:

“I hope that this book works a little like a ‘Wunderkammer’ [a cabinet of curiosities]. It is full of strange things and it is concerned with the quality of wonder…..Most of all I hope my work is about a thing that seems to me of the deepest possible importance in our present-day historical moment: finding ways to recognise and love difference. The attempt to see through eyes that are not your own. To understand that your way of looking at the world is not the only one. To think what it might mean to love those that are not like you. To rejoice in the complexity of things.”

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January’s Reading Round UP

I can’t believe it is the start of Februay already.  January seems to have whizzed by.

So here I am, already into month two of my year of challenges and trying new things.  One such area is reading.  You can see more about the two reading challenges I have set myself here, and here.

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H is for….

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…High-Intensity Reading.  And what a read indeed.  I could not put this book down, even when I was not reading.  It became for me like my very own hawk – always watching and waiting in the room, ever present, until I could next pick it up again.

Helen Macdonald’s award winning book, H is for Hawk is the story of how she comes to terms with the death of her father, while also, and because of her time spent, training a goshawk.  It is a magnificent account of the intricacies of falconry, as well as a highly personal confession about one of the most difficult things someone can experience.  A complete page turner, I recommend this book unreservedly.

Read on if you would like to know more detail about my thoughts.  I have tried to avoid plot spoilers, but have included quotes and references to material throughout the book.

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What will I be reading in 2016?

Some of you will know about my 2016 Reading Challenge.  I have settled on my list (although I reserve the right to change my mind – particularly about the penultimate category!).

I have very much enjoyed thinking about my choices.  Some came to me instantly, as you will see below.  Others took more research, weighing up, or general pondering.  But now that I am finished, I am delighted wth the overall collection.  It will be a good set to contribute to my goal of reading at least 50 books in the year as a whole.

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