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

4.37  ·  Rating Details ·  211 Ratings  ·  42 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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Anchor (first published September 3rd 2002)
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(showing 1-30)
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Feb 07, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing
Enchanting! Enduring! Funny! Fascinating! This is a charming-heartwarming story between a man and his love for a sparrow.

Chris Chester enters a world beyond his own imagination when a sparrow falls twenty-five feet from his nest.
Chris had recently just gotten engaged to Rebecca when *B* came into their lives. Chris & Rebecca nursed *B* back to health. (seeking advice from a friend)
Their entire lives turned upside down. Chris turned an entire room into an aviary.
*B's* large room had high c
Aug 13, 2010 Michael rated it it was amazing
A sweet and compelling memoir I recommend to anyone. I believe all who read this will cherish the experience for expanding their sense of wonder about the intelligence and emotional life of even this small, "lowly" bird.

Chris Chester saves a baby sparrow that falls out of its nest and ends up raising it. In the process he develops a loving relationship with it that changes his life and spiritual outlook on what life is really about. So often in the first phases I found myself thinking this guy
Sep 01, 2007 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2007 DeAnn rated it it was amazing
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: [].
Oct 05, 2009 Barb rated it it was amazing
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.
May 05, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 28, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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.
May 24, 2017 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, animals
This is the improbable true story of a man whose serious depression was relieved for over 8 years by a sparrow he rescued after it fell out of its nest in the eaves of his house in Portland. Contradicts so much of the popular thinking regarding small creatures, as "B" (the name he gave the sparrow) exhibits definite personality traits and unpredictable behaviors. Suggests that close observation and interaction can open one's eyes to the individual of virtually any species. This is also a love st ...more
Nov 14, 2016 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I completely enjoyed reading Providence of A Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds by Chris Chester, both for the memoir and the education about sparrows. As a pet owner, I recognize that taking responsibility for another being often requires unforeseen sacrifices, so I found it amusing to see the extent that Chris Chester allowed a little foundling sparrow he named "B" took over his life and his home.

Here he tells the story of finding B:

My compassion having been hobbled by childhood m
Jul 26, 2009 Denise rated it it was amazing
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
Gail Katz
Jan 10, 2012 Gail Katz rated it liked it
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
Jul 20, 2008 Blaire rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Jalaja Bonheim
Sep 19, 2013 Jalaja Bonheim rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 30, 2010 Auntjenny rated it it was ok
Sooooooooooo depressing. Couldn't finish it. And if sparrows are sentient, then I'm screwed (they very probably are). Scratch that, we are all screwed. But then I think about how as a whole, humanity has done good things... we have taken care of small sparrows, we have helped animals live who in the wilderness surely would have died. But we've also boiled chickens alive and kept pigs in terrible conditions before slaughtering them... I guess it's a toss up.
Jen Bojkov
Jan 14, 2014 Jen Bojkov rated it it was amazing
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!!
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!
Mar 12, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 16, 2007 Sherrie rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 04, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 02, 2016 Dancnanc rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story with excellent writing. The tenderness with which Chris Chester tells this adventure of having a house sparrow in their house along with other words is deeply touching, along with his somewhat sardonic humor and philosophical musings it is totally enjoyable and thougth provoking. He is a very gifted writer. Too bad he is gone.
Jim Tucker
Feb 06, 2011 Jim Tucker rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2007 Patty rated it it was amazing
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.
Claire Hadleigh
Jul 11, 2016 Claire Hadleigh rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-writing
If you've ever watched the sparrows tripping in your backyard or in a parking lot, picking up old french fries, then this is the book for you! Chester's writing and his journey through the life he shared with a tiny creature will melt your heart.
Apr 12, 2008 Cathy rated it it was amazing
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.
Nona Williams
Dec 27, 2013 Nona Williams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife-pets
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.
Aug 31, 2015 Carrie rated it liked it
This book was hard to get into, but it touched my heart at the end. The last chapter really hit home, especially after just losing Sedona, a Northern Goshawk I worked with and had an amazing bond with. I think it can be hard for people to realize just how special a bird can be.
Feb 10, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
This is an absolute must-read. Get some tissues, though. It will make you cry for the beauty and the loss in the end.
Jan 12, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing
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.
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...
Sep 09, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will never look at birds the same way again. I'm very glad to have read this book.
Lissa Notreallywolf
Oct 24, 2013 Lissa Notreallywolf rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I really enjoyed this witty book. It is a good read for anyone who has struggled with depression or loved a bird.
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Play Book Tag: Providence of a Sparrow by Chris Chester - 4 stars 8 6 Dec 04, 2016 10:59AM  
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