In this stunning assemblage of words and images, novelist and avid birdwatcher Graeme Gibson offers an extraordinary tribute to the venerable relationship between humans and birds.
From the Aztec plumed serpent to the Christian dove to Plato's vision of the human soul growing wings, religion and philosophy use birds to represent our aspirational selves. Winged creatures appear in mythology and folk tales, and in literature by writers as diverse as Ovid, Thoreau, and T. S. Eliot. They've been omens, allegories, and guides; they've been worshipped, eaten, and feared. Birds figure tellingly in the work of such nature writers as Gilbert White and Peter Matthiessen, and are synonymous with the science of Darwin.
Gibson spent years collecting this gorgeously illustrated celebration of centuries of human response to the delights of the feathered tribes. The Bedside Book of Birds is for everyone who is intrigued by the artistic forms that humanity creates to represent its soul.
About the Author
GRAEME GIBSON was born in London, Ontario, in 1934. He was the author of three novels, Five Legs (1969), Communion (1971) and Perpetual Motion (1982), and of two bedside companions, The Bedside Book of Birds (2005) and The Bedside Book of Beasts (2009). An important spokesman for Canadian cultural identity, Gibson was the initial organizer and a founding member of the Writers' Union of Canada, and was its chairman in 1976. He was also an organizer and founding member of the Writers' Trust, a non-profit organization, and was subsequently its chairman. From 1987 to 1989, he was president of the Canadian Centre of International PEN. In 1990, he won a Toronto Arts Award for writing and publishing, and, in 1992 he received the Order of Canada. Graeme Gibson died in September 2019.
A Globe and Mail BestBook 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 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…. It’s what I’ll take to bed tonight to incite my dreams.” —Barry Lopez"Gibson's own graceful and erudite essays tell of the pleasure, fear, confusion, or hope that birds inspire, and their imperiled place in nature."—The Oprah Magazine"Gibson's preambles are as satisfying as the texts and accompanying illustrations."—Library Journal