71W8wQViiuLReviewed by Poppy Johnson

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human is one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read about animals–birds in this case. Don’t let the plain bird silhouette cover fool you because reading this book is so much fun and interesting that you will not want to put it down (not even for one minute). The Thing with Feathers, by Noah Strycker is a book reference for bird lore with information on bird habits and insanely revealing groups of stories about real birds we see every single day. The book is divided into three parts of a bird, which includes chapters on the body, mind and spirit of birds. Each chapter highlights one type of bird (such as owls, turkeys, vultures, penguins, etc.) and then thoroughly explains what is unique to the species and how these birds do what they do best.

The idea behind this book is that understanding birds and their lives may offer insight on how we can live our lives with more purpose. Birds have an internal game book that guides them instinctively to do everything from picking a mate, to following the correct line from A  to B. I loved all parts of The Thing with Feathers but my favorite section has to be about the hummingbirds. Every fact is eye opening about hummingbirds and most came as quite a shock to me. They are sneaky and aggressive, are able to fly hundreds of miles without stopping, and are the only birds alive able to fly backwards.

After reading this book, I have become a veritable expert on many different types of birds and enjoy telling others about them. There are funny bird stories, facts, tales of tragedy and triumph, and pioneering field and behavioral research on birds as completed by the author. The birds are just doing what they do well, and to have an insight into their normal operations gives us an insight into ourselves. We can’t believe that living a life could really be this easy, could it? I mean, the birds just do it all naturally so why do humans have to over think everything and mess it all up? I recommend this book to children of all ages (for bedtime stories or lively dinner table discussions) and to adults who are still curious about how birds do what they do.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.