“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work. Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read. Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things. Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too. No matter the source, good reads are featured here. The blog below was written by Reference Librarian, Donna Burgess.
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Friday Reads: The Seabird’s Cry: the lives and loves of the planet’s great ocean voyagers
by Adam Nicolson
In the introduction we learn that the author’s father had purchased in 1937, with funds left to him from his grandmother, the Shiant Isles, a cluster of “three small specks of grass and rock, each about a mile long, a total of 500 uninhabited acres, with one rat-ridden bothy (a small cottage) for £1300.
At age eight the author accompanied his father on an “unforgettable trip” to the Isles to observe nesting seabirds. Since then Nicholson has pursued the birds around the world, reaching out across the “great widths of the ocean.”
Ten chapters, each describing a different bird: Fulmar, Puffin, Kittiwake, Gull, Guillemot, Cormorant and Shag, Shearwater, Gannet, Great Auk and its Cousin Razorbill, Albatross, and the Seabird’s cry. And “each displays a different facet of the central question: how to exist in all three elements. They are the rarest form of creation, the only animals at home on the sea, in the air and on land.”
In the Guardian, a British newspaper, a reviewer wrote , “the author Adam Nicolson says this ‘paean to the beauty of life on the wing’ began when he read a Seamus Heaney lecture exploring French philosopher Simone Weil’s aphorism: “Obedience to the force of gravity. The greatest sin.” It says everything about this gorgeous book: a poetic, soaring exploration of 10 species of seabirds: gull, guillemot, gannet and so on – which revels in the way they “float like beings from the otherworld.”
Replete with photos of the birds, occasional lines or stanzas from poems, maps, and several pages of notes, this book is not just for ornithologists but for anyone with a fascination for birds, especially ocean going ones.
Look for The Seabird’s Cry on the New nonfiction shelf, Call # 598.17 NIC