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Birdsplaining (cover)

Publisher: New Welsh Review, Aberystwyth

Publication Year: 2023

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 199

ISBN Number: 9781913830168

Price: £ 9.99

Birdsplaining: A Natural History

The author herself acknowledges in her opening note that some offence may be taken by the title, but Jasmine Donahaye’s collection of short essays is much more than it first seems. She elucidates a multi-faceted explanation for Birdsplaining, adding to the anticipated definition the notion of using birds as a way to explore the relationship humans have both to each other and to the natural world, as well as seeing in them a means to understand personal experience. From the Swallows seeking a place to nest in her 18th century Welsh cottage home to a Western Bluebird spotted in California, birds are at the heart of this book.

Set within the frame of the author’s own experiences, the 14 individual but connected essays bring up important issues: the human tendency to anthropomorphise the natural world; the colonial history of ornithology and the names of the local guides who have been largely forgotten; the equity of access to nature; the status of birdwatching as a traditionally male-dominated interest to name but a few. However, this isn’t a book that tries to tell you what to think, and functions more as a way to start a conversation rather than an attempt to conclude it.

The experiences Jasmine Donahaye describes in Birdsplaining provide a means for personal reflection. It is an unusual, vivid, book which still manages to remain remarkably easy-to-read and enjoyable. It doesn’t shy away from taking on difficult subjects, and I’ve often found myself thinking about it in the days since finishing it.

Book reviewed by Lesley Hindley

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