Reviews of The Thing with Feathers
June 4, 2014 by Noah Strycker

The Thing with Feathers is getting rave reviews! Some highlights:

The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy piece, saying: “Mr. Strycker has the ability to write about the worlds of man and fowl without simplifying either. . . He thinks like a biologist but writes like a poet. . . Although Mr. Strycker is only in his late 20s, he writes like a man who’s ripened into advanced eccentricity. Part the palm fronds between his sentences, and you can almost see the British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough standing there in a pith helmet, smiling with amused approval at Mr. Strycker’s off-center sensibility.” [full review]

Newsweek had a wonderful, full-page review: “[Strycker] is a rising superstar in the birding community. . . a fun and enlightening read. Strycker knows words as well as birds; he has the literary chops to make the results of very complex experiments accessible. . . Perhaps Strycker’s greatest accomplishment in The Thing with Feathers is forcing the reader to think of birds not as flying rats that poop on cars, but as animals with superpowers.” [full review]

The Washington Post said: “Strycker has a keen eye for what is most interesting about each species, and he presents each bird story with tight language, humor and even an occasional splash of self-consciousness. . . this is a lively and vibrant book. Bird journalism of the highest order. Bird journalism that crackles.” [full review]

The Economist said: “‘The Thing with Feathers’ turns a shrewd, comparative eye on a succession of bird families to explore what [Strycker] calls their ‘human’ characteristics. . . This is an engaging work which illuminates something profound about all life, including our own.” [full review]

Robert Krulwich, of National Public Radio, called TWF “lovely” and “provocative” and wrote several NPR blog posts inspired by four different chapters from the book, which generated hundreds of online comments. [read online]

The scientific journal Nature said: “Birds intrigue humanity, and in this research round-up Noah Strycker reveals why – in marvels such as the equal-radius paths of flocking starlings and the decontamination chamber that is a vulture’s stomach. As he notes, such findings can mirror human realities.” [not available online]

Science News said: “Noah Strycker all but lassos readers with his binocular strap to bring people nose to beak with the plumed creatures he knows so well. . . [an] edifying and entertaining book.” [full review]

The Boston Globe concluded: “Beautifully written, filled with strange and lovely details, ‘The Thing With Feathers’ is a delightful read from start to finish.” [full review]

BirdWatching magazine said: “One of the best bird books you’ll read this decade. Guaranteed. . . The bottom line: Birds are full of wonder. And we’re thankful to have Noah Strycker to tell us about them.” [full review]

The Seattle Times concluded: “’The Things with Feathers’ will encourage you to take a closer look at the natural world around you, and perhaps learn more not only about what you see but who you are.” [full review]

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said: “fascinating, readable, and informative . . . At the end of the book, you might conclude, ‘We’re all just a bunch of birdbrains.’ And that would not be a bad thing.” [full review]

The Oregonian said: “It is Strycker’s ability to see and draw connections between bird behavior and humanity that make ‘The Thing with Feathers’ difficult to put down. . . ‘The Thing with Feathers’ encourages reflection on one’s own assumptions about the perceived limitations of the animal kingdom.” [full review]

Booklist gave TWF a starred review: “[Strycker] combines the latest in ornithological science with snippets of history and his own vast experience in the field to hatch a thoroughly entertaining examination of bird behavior. . . Birds are equally alien and familiar, and in Strycker’s absorbing survey, we find out how much fun it is simply to watch them.”

Publisher’s Weekly said: “[Strycker] gets in his element. . . His prose is difficult to stop reading.” [full review]

Kirkus Reviews concluded: “A delightful book with broad appeal.” [full review]

Library Journal said: “A dazzling variety of avian subjects, including connections between birds and humans.”

Flavorwire said: “The Thing with Feathers is a delightful addition to the genre of animal writing that tells us about animal habits and why they matter. Strycker . . . is a trusty guide through bird-world, spanning continents and countries in order to tell us what vultures, hummingbirds, and bowerbirds have to offer the world.” [full review]

Mental Floss magazine called TWF “an exciting new book” and included a fun graphic of bird facts from the book. [not available online]

Carl Safina (author of Eye of the Albatross and other books) said: “I can tell you that not only is this book full of solid information—I expected that—but as a writer I am astonished at how loose and easy Noah Strycker has made the reading for us. This is an insightful and wonderfully companionable book. I can’t wait to read more from Strycker; meanwhile we have this gem.”

Scott Weidensaul (author of Living on the Wind and other books) said: “Noah Strycker explores the increasing likelihood that birds enjoy a vastly richer intellectual, emotional and even artistic life than we smug humans have ever suspected. Read this book.”

Brian Kimberling (author of Snapper) said: “A thoughtful, engaging book, encompassing pigeon races, physics, vulture baiting, the Backstreet Boys, and a mathematical model applicable to both tennis rankings and chicken hierarchies—a work of dazzling range, nimbly written.”

Mary Pipher (author of The Green Boat and other books) said: “I’ve read books about birds all of my life and this is the one I’ve been waiting forBirds have a great deal to teach us. Strycker loves birds, understands their magic and mystery, and can extrapolate from their behavior wisdom for us all. At last we have a book worthy of this subject.”

I was interviewed on NPR’s The Dinner Party Download, a national US radio show aired on 130+ public radio stations, on March 8. [listen and read transcript online]

I was also interviewed on Late Night Live, a national radio show in Australia, on June 3. [listen online]

And The East Oregonian and The Register-Guard newspapers have run recent profiles.

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