Three lovely books about owls

I love owls. Everyone loves owls don’t they? How could you not?

I don’t have a lot of time for blog writing this week thanks to a mammoth work project, so I’m going to let these books largely speak for themselves.

Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird – Matt Sewell

Read this one if you’re looking for: a quirky field guide. The text is delightfully off the wall (the Eurasian Eagle Owl is described as having ‘talons like butcher’s hooks, wings like pub doors, a massive neck like a Turkish weightlifter…‘) and the illustrations are wonderful. 

The Secret Life of the Owl – John Lewis-Stempel

Read this one if you’re looking for: something more poetic. As far as nature writing goes, you’re always in safe hands with JLS. This is a slimmer volume and certainly doesn’t set out to be an all-encompassing guide to the owl. Instead, it’s a collection of brief descriptions of Britain’s owls – almost vignettes really – bookended by poems and essays that explore the history and mythology of owls where they intersect with humans.

Owl Sense – Miriam Darlington

Read this one if you’re looking to: get out into the field. Reading Darlington’s book was a bit like having a conversation with a friend. She’s interesting, personable and truly dedicated to getting her feet muddy and seeing owls in their natural habitats. While she acknowledges the folklore surrounding the owl, her focus is on separating myth from reality and experiencing owls as tangibly as possible, rather than as the fleeting shadow or distant hoot that is the closest many of us have come. It’s a book about connections – be they ecological or emotional – between people, and between people and owls.

Shiny new-ness (otherwise known as ‘my reading inbox’)

A snapshot of the shiny book-related loveliness that came into my home over the Christmas period and during the post-Christmas sales:

I’m currently reading Matthew Battles’ book Library (a history of the library as we understand it today) and have been left feeling extremely fortunate that compiling a personal ‘library’ of sorts is no longer something that is the exclusive preserve of the super-wealthy or those with the means to hire a few hundred scribes.

It’s also left me aware that the idea of the book as something to be admired for its beauty as well as its content is a relatively new idea in the history of the written word. So I feel doubly lucky to be looking at such beautiful things.

However, given that my own personal library goals are now more skewed towards curation than acquisition, the books that stay are having to jump a few more hoops than previously and a couple had to go to make way. Thinking like a librarian (or even a bookseller – thanks Shaun!) definitely helps me let go more than I could before.

But in the meantime, there is this mound to look forward to. I’ve already read The Diary of a Bookseller, of which more later, but where should I go next? I’m thinking Armistead Maupin but could be persuaded otherwise…