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Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds
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Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  155 ratings  ·  36 reviews
“There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” --William Shakespeare, Hamlet

B fell twenty-five feet from his nest into the life of Chris Chester. The encounter was providential for both of them.
B and Chester spent hours together playing games like bottle-cap fetch or hide-and-seek. They learned “words” in each other’s vocabularies. B developed a fetish for nost...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Anchor (first published September 3rd 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Kate
Sep 01, 2007 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone.
Shelves: favorites
This is an amazing book that I never would have chosen to read on my own. I don't read "animal" books as a general rule, but this book is about so much more than sparrows. It is about a man finding wonder and delight in something that could have just as easily have been brushed aside and forgotten. It was good for all of us that Chris Chester found B (the sparrow), so we could have this book to read and enjoy. Chester's voice seems tangible as you read. You can feel his enthusiasm for B and his...more
DeAnn
Mar 31, 2013 DeAnn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: literally anyone
This book is not just for fans of memoirs or birds. I wouldn't describe myself as either, and it's one of the best books I've read in ages.

Chris Chester has a way with prose that is almost indescribable. You will laugh, you will cry, you will find yourself relating to this weird tale of a man and his sparrow.

Even if you don't think you'd like to read this book, I highly recommend reading this article about its author: [http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregoniane...].
Barb
Oct 22, 2009 Barb rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Barb by: Sara Butler
A great narrative that weaves personal reflection, literary and philosophical references, nature, and urbanity together. Chris Chester manages to created prose that flows like a river. While there are glimpses of personal journal in the organization, the book reads as a unified whole. It is a rare author who can pull that off.
Helen
i love this book. amazing story of an ongoing relationship between a man and an ordinary sparrow that he rescues and learns to admire and love. what i like about this memoir is that his experience is tied to larger issues. the book is as much philosophical musing as it is memoir. not to be missed.
Barbara
This was a wonderful, quirky set of musings about life, small birds, philosophy, nature, and literature. Told with humor and wit, the story of raising and loving a fallen house sparrow, captures the heart.
Denise
This is one of my favorite memoirs for its unusual subject matter. The author is incredibly insightful and leads his reader through a series of revelatory moments experienced in the process of raising this bird, named B, with his wife Rebecca. He balanced anecdotes with reflection in a way that makes the book very readable.

At first glance, this seems like a ridiculous premise for a book that is actually quite long---but its actually a topic that offers lots of food for thought on serious life i...more
Gail Katz
This book was chosen by The Springfield Book Club - my local group. Truthfully I doubt it would haven ever caught my interest/eye. Just like the non descript house sparrow Chester writes about, the book is non descript. Our choice was made on availability and the fact this was an Oregon based writer.

I have been lucky enought to have loved some very special dogs and cats in my life. But a bird? forget about it! Never caught my interest. I've always wondered why folks would put up with something...more
Blaire
This is a charming book. It is not only an account of the author's life with an English sparrow that he rescues and tames. He digresses into musings about his own character, that of his wife, that of his bird, as well as humankind's correct relationship with the animal kingdom. He's very funny at times and pretty informative about what is known about bird anatomy, physiology, and behavior. He's also way over the top in the compromises he's willing to make in order to live with his birds. His sav...more
Wendy
I will never look at birds the same way again. I'm very glad to have read this book.
Jen Bojkov
This book was magical to read for me. It is a wonderful mix of natural history, biology, philosophy, memoir, and rich literary touches. The author is truly gifted as a writer. SPOILER ALERT!!
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It is a crying shame that Chester never was able to produce another work and that he died at such a young age. I know it was cancer that took him, but I feel it could almost have just as easily been from a broken heart. What a wonderful gift he have to the world. I found his story magical!
Jalaja Bonheim
The story of a man who adopts an orphaned sparrow and promptly falls head over heels in love with it. Granted, I'm biased: myself the owner (actually, slave) of a bird, I know what it's like to fall under the spell of a tiny feathered creature. The author doesn't hide the fact that he's totally besotted, yet his writing is never sentimental. Some parts are hilarious, others are full of fascinating information about birds, their evolutionary history, habits and behaviors.
Rebecca
This book was an absolutely delightful memoir of a man in Portland Oregon who gave over his life and house to a house sparrow (and a subsequent menagerie of zebra finches and sparrows). Amazing the relationships he developed with his birds. Although I haven't uncaged my lone zebra finch (his mate died last year) I have let my parakeet roam after reading this book--and his life and mine are the better for it.
Ellen
May 12, 2012 Ellen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: gifts


I adored reading this book. I have a rescued house sparrow of my own (Charlie), so I thoroughly enjoyed the author's descriptions of his sparrows' personalities and behavior. I can tell you from experience that everything he says about the workings of the minds of sparrows is true. I highly recommend this book to animal and bird lovers.
Jim Tucker
If you have only an imagined sensitive bone in your body, you will be moved by this book. If you were raised to despise, and, yes, destroy all House Sparrow as pests, as I was, then you can count on being transformed. You will never see another House Sparrow as anything but a creature potent with potential providence. Thank you, Chris Chester
Sherrie
Sep 16, 2007 Sherrie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Chris Chester passed away this year and it's sad that he wrote only this book. A Portland, Oregon writer, he uses his adoption of a baby sparrow as a segue into observations into the larger events of life. His devotion to the birds he adopts is amazing and should provide interesting reading for these descriptions alone. Quite funny in spots.
Nona Williams
This is one of my all-time favorite books. In addition to being about rescuing a baby sparrow who had fallen from its nest, the book is about the human condition, dealing with death, ethics. I treasure it.
Patty
Ohmygod I loved this book. Beautifully written, deeply felt, and it made me think about so many aspects of life and our relationship with animals.

I was sad to learn that Chris Chester died in April of this year.
Cathy
This is an amazing story. It is the memoir of a man and his wife adopting abandoned wild birds, but more deeply it is an examination of what we hold important in our lives and what it means to be human.
Sari Lynn
Jan 10, 2009 Sari Lynn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: memoir
A perfectly delightful memoir of life with a rescued house sparrow. Through his writing, we get to know the personality and eccentricities of both the bird, B, and the author. Highly recommended!
Sara
Who knew what humor, literary allusions, and hope sprung from the small feathered body of such a hated, introduced bird pest species? I am now in love, again, with a new bird.
Rebecca
I loved this book! The writer has a great mix of natural history, philosophy, humor, and love for birds! Probably a little eccentric for those that are not already bird crazy.
Charlene
Aug 16, 2009 Charlene is currently reading it
Re-reading a wonderful book about a small English sparrow. I didn't keep my original copy, which makes me worry that I dumped it because the cat eventually eats the bird...
Jill
Quite possibly my favorite book of all times. Chris Chester was an intelligent, funny, & compassionate being. I am grateful that he shared his story of 'B'.
Kflaroue
Loved the images in the story. I didn't want it to end, and certainly not the way it did. It made me love the "little brown jobs" all the more.
Joan
Sweet non-fiction written by a man who lives in my neighborhood. He adopts an injured sparrow who basically takes over his life.
Molly Major
Great book by a Portland author that received the Oregon Book Award for this love story of a bird and his man.
Lissa Notreallywolf
I really enjoyed this witty book. It is a good read for anyone who has struggled with depression or loved a bird.
Bonnie
This is an absolute must-read. Get some tissues, though. It will make you cry for the beauty and the loss in the end.
Patsy McQuade
Very fun book to read about a guy who made his house over for an injured sparrow to recover and live.
Auntjenny
Sooooooooooo depressing. Couldn't finish it. And if sparrows are sentient, then I'm screwed.
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“We're compensated metaphysically with the absolute freedom to define and pursue whatever it is we believe will make our lives worthwhile- a dubious birthright that imparts a wearisome burden of its own. Rather like choosing one all-important meal from an infinite menu.” 2 likes
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