An uplifting memoir for birders and nature enthusiasts.

FIELD NOTES FROM AN UNINTENTIONAL BIRDER

A MEMOIR

A Toronto-based writer reveals how a casual bird-watching hobby evolved into an abiding passion.

Zarankin discovered birds after her first marriage and teaching career fell apart and she had begun a new relationship she did not believe she “had the force to sustain.” Her transformation from a bird-watching hobbyist into a dedicated birder who drove hundreds of miles to see a single bird happened slowly. Her adventure began “with a few innocuous Internet searches” for amateur bird-watching clubs in Toronto. After joining a club, Zarankin immediately marveled at the beauty of birds as well as their ancientness: “as close as I’d ever stand to dinosaurs.” She knew then that she wanted to acquire the new language of bird names that her club associates spoke so fluently. Over the next decade, Zarankin immersed herself in the bird-watching books that slowly overtook her bookshelves. The more involved she became with her hobby, the more she began to see herself and her life in them. Observation of the white-breasted nuthatch and black-capped chickadee, two similar-looking birds with different behaviors, helped her appreciate a second marriage to a man who had little in common with her apart from their shared Jewishness and a love of ballet. The author’s study of migratory birds led her to a more nuanced understanding of the “line of [geopolitical] migrants” from which she had descended. After four years of volunteering at a bird research station, she was finally ready to touch a live bird. At the same time, she began dance classes to rectify her earlier, disastrous efforts at ballet. “ ‘I’m here to reclaim my childhood,’ I told my teacher when he asked about our reasons for signing up for the class.” Life-affirming, thoughtful, and thoroughly delightful, this book celebrates self-acceptance and the joy of living an unexpected life.

An uplifting memoir for birders and nature enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77162-248-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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