I don’t have a ton to say about this book so let’s talk a little about my reading habits before moving on to not saying a lot.
One of the reasons I started keeping a list of what I read was so that I could spot interesting trends in my reading habits. One of the interesting trends I have spotted is that I read very few books by women authors. This isn’t a huge surprise. In tossing book recommendations back and forth with my friend Jacqueline a few years back, I came to the realization that my reading habits are distinctly male. The Age of Sail, stories of survival, war, crime, the occasional Western. These are the sorts of books I enjoy but women don’t tend to enjoy these genres as much and, accordingly, women authors are under represented in these genres.
Having spotted this trend you might think that I would make an effort to correct it but this is not the case. If I was selecting books for a syllabus, I would definitely make an effort to correct the trend. In the classroom, a diversity of view points is important. I suppose that a diversity of view points in my reading habits would be important if my goal was to broaden my horizons but, while this is a noble goal, it is, regrettably, not my motivation for reading. I read strictly for enjoyment. I like the fact that reading enriches me and I have no doubt that all of the non-fiction I read broadens my horizons but this is a happy by-product of my reading.
Looking back over my reading list for the past several years, the trend is embarrassingly stark. Last year I read Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants (historical fiction?) which I loved. The year before that, I read Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Nation (humor, history) which I also loved. But that’s it for the past three years.
Anyway, back on topic, Songbird Journeys was written by a woman and I enjoyed it very much. The book talks about the lives of migratory birds, season by season, using each season as a framework for discussing the latest science on migration, breeding territory behavior and behavior on the wintering grounds.
Miyoko Chu’s style is engaging and accessible. There’s enough great science presented in this book to interest the bird obsessed among us, but it’s presented in a manner that could be enjoyed by a lay person. Along with lots of fascinating information about birds, we learn a lot about he scientists who are pushing the boundaries of ornithology ever outwards. When it comes to ornithology, it’s always astonishing to me how much we don’t know. There is a lot of room for passionate individuals to extend our knowledge in new directions and this book tells the story of several such people.
As for the cover, well, it’s a pair of Baltimore Orioles, innit? Not much else to say there.