Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
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Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A celebrated storyteller-poet-naturalist explores a year of dawns in her most personal book to date.

In an eye-opening sequence of personal meditations through the cycle of seasons, Diane Ackerman awakens us to the world at dawn—drawing on sources as diverse as meteorology, world religion, etymology, art history, poetry, organic farming, and beekeeping. As a patient and lea...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 28th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published September 1st 2009)
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Hannah Jane
Wow wow wow! Everybody should read this! I feel like yelling to the whole world about this book. How do I even explain it? It's almost as if Ackerman takes science and decorates it with metaphors. Oh her language is beautiful. "Troubadours" is one of the finest pieces I have ever read. I also adored "Forget Bats, “Clever as Clever," and "Field Guides." I am definitely going to go back and read it again, because there is no way I absorbed everything.
Bryce Holt
I get the sense from most other reviewers that they love Diane Ackerman but don't really know what to think on this. Well, I really enjoy Diane Ackerman and I thought this book was weak-borderlining-forgetful.

If you want to hear somebody muse on their morning routines (or what the birds are doing, for that matter), go grab some Billy Collins poetry and save yourself a few hours of investment in this. If you want to give Ackerman a shot, go with "A Natural History of the Senses." That one is love...more
Pat
Diane Ackerman has an interesting view of the world. This is a collection of short essays that have been triggered in her mind by the light at dawn in Florida, where she often winters, and the light at dawn in the northern climes - Vermont - both in the summer and in winter. The light itself is just a trigger into a new thought process based on the flowers, plants, animals, birds and insects that are about at dawn; hence, the subtitle Dancing with Cranes. I like her perspective even if I'm not a...more
Judy
Just couldn't get into this. I'll try again later. Maybe it's me. Can't believe I wrote that in June 2010. Read it and re-read it in Feb/March 2012. Couldn't part with it to take back to the library and finally bought a copy (used)on Amazon.
So many lovely essays. Some are heavily art oriented. She has a knack for describing things so that you see them for the first time. I've started reading it again and I'll add some quotes, either here or in the quotes section if I can find it.
Swhe641200
I picked this up at the Layton Library. It was interesting talking about the Dawn of each new day. I will surely look at each new day different. There was a lot about plant life, animal life, methology. she skipped all over the place. But I learned many things.

Since I have read this book. I have been a lot more attentive to the sunrises and sunset. Thank to this book. I appreciate the colors so much more. I will never look at a sunrise or sunset the same again.
Sacha
Pithy, graceful, and surprising. This book of essays is on my poetry shelf because each essay is a little gem. Each is filled with observations of our world that are beautiful without being saccharine and inspire one to pay attention to the amazing soup we live in. This writing is peppered with interesting facts that indicate a startling breadth of reading. The style is warm and conversational, as if the reader has been invited into the yard to share a hot drink.
Amy
One of my favorite naturalist-writers, Diane Ackerman gives us a book of essays on observing nature at dawn. She describes bird song at dawn and discusses various birds she sees, providing wonderful background on their behavior. Her writing is wonderful, full of poetic phrases about observing the sky brightening, the world turning golden, and the animals taking advantage of another day. The effect is almost meditative, and, indeed, influences you to slow down yourself and enjoy your surroundings...more
Liza Gilbert
I read this for one of my library's book clubs. I understand that it's difficult when writing about one's own interaction with nature to not become self-indulgent. It's hard to not wax rhapsodic about every little detail.

To me, Ackerman more often that not wrote with a great deal of self-indulgence. I felt this book would work better had it been written in poetry, or kept simply as a family diary that her relatives could someday read.

The non-fiction writing style with which Ackerman had excelled...more
Richard
I was raised a Catholic, left the church at 14, played around with atheism/agnosticism riddled with teen angst, kept circling 'round the church trying to catch the scent of something meaningful until religious nostalgia became the driver. Somewhere in there I joined Rick in Casablanca and changed my nationality to "...drunkard. That makes Rick a citizen of the world." Eventually hooked up with the hippies, drugs and new age nonsense, catching glimmers. Danced with the Sufis, chanted with the Bud...more
Ryan Mishap
"Then the canvas of our awareness fills with a vastness so ancient, astonishing, and visceral that we can neither understand nor turn away from it because it speaks a dialect of bone, whispers through our cells with revelry and relief about the joy of finding oneself alive, again, on one more morning, as night sails off, replaced by a floating world of color and birdsong."

"If I closely watch any natural wonder, really watch it, nonjudgmentally, in the present moment, noting its nuances, how it l...more
Amanda
This was interesting and refreshing. There were so many whimsical words and moments. If I could have focused for one minute, I think this book would have really hit me hard. Instead I read it over the course of a month, casually, and stopped periodically when I was moved, and took a deep and resounding breath. I liked it.
Elly Sands
Wow! This book is filled with fascinating and intriguing information about our natural world. Ackerman follows the four seasons with her observations about dawn. She brings together a wide gamut of sources such as beekeeping, bird behavior, cloud glories(new to me), poetry, art and much more. She is a keen observer and writes with passion and a pure zest for life. I found the experiments with spiders and how they weave their webs a real "trip." Ex: Spidernauts, 2 spiders go into orbit aboard Sky...more
Shonna Froebel
This is a book to take your time reading. From her two homes in Ithaca, New York and Palm Beach, Florida, Ackerman looks at her own experiences and observances of dawn through the seasons. Paying attention to birds, from cranes to hummingbirds, starlings to owls, she includes their actions and her reactions. Talking about art, from Monet to Hokusai and how they portrayed the natural world. Insects from bees to spiders are observed carefully and commented on. All of her writing connects one thing...more
Penny
Hauntingly beautiful prose, laced with fascinating facts about animals, birds and people as they relate to dawn. Organized by seasons, the short chapters in this book are easy to read and savor one each day.
Linda
I have enjoyed this authors previous books, particularly a history of the senses, but this was rather average. I enjoyed the chapter on starlings - clever as clever.
Grass_Roots Books and Music
Diane Ackerman takes us on a wonderful seasonal journey through the light of dawn, the beginning of daylight. Each chapter stands on its own as she explores this early morning light from the experiences of humans, as well as animals, and as well as what it means to her. And, with thorough research, she describes what this light means not only in science, but for artists and different religions of the world. She covers it all--exquisitely. This is a nice collection of insights; an enjoyable read...more
Bruce
A really delightful and interesting collection of essays and thought pieces. Monet's inspiration from Hokusai via the wrapping paper in a Paris shop. The efforts of song birds to get their songs right as they wake, groggy in the dawn. The words different cultures have (and don't have) for colours. The busy life at dawn looking out from a balcony in Palm Beach. Teaching cranes to migrate... and dance.
Laura Lynch
"Dawn Light" is reflections on the dawn, the day and the sights and sounds of everyday life. It is observations of nature especially the calls and habits of birds as well as the activities and noises of humans. It is Diane’s thoughts and interpatations on what she sees and what it might mean to be something other than a person. A book that reminds us to enjoy the unique minor and major moments of life,
Diane
I really wanted to read this book - it was given to me by someone I admire and like very much. But I just couldn't read it. There were a few chapters that had some interest, but in general the author just wanders around loving nature. Others with a more contemplative or meditative mind would probably enjoy it. Remember, I didn't even like Thoreau.
Florence
A series of short vignettes illuminating natural and poetic events inspired by dawn. A spider, when infused with LSD alters the plan of its carefully constructed web resulting in a freer design with lots of flaws. A person's peripheral vision does not register colors, just dusky gray images. Interesting trivia found in this slim volume.
Darla
A little out there, but an interesting collection of thoughts on dawn and topics relating to it. Part meditation, part science lesson in poet's language, part "Once and Future King" thoughts about what-if-I-were-something-else, this is a quick read of one woman's ruminations on dawn. Read as part of my reading list in preparation for the A.T.
LitProfSue
I love anything by Ackerman. This one is a collection of reflective essays on the impact of dawn on the author, interwoven with cultural, historical and scientific insights on the how humans have viewed the sunrise.
Marik Casmon
A lovely collection of nature essays centered on the theme of dawn, and including lots of poetic writing about birds, animals, plants, living, and a host of more distantly related subjects. A way to cheer yourself.
Rachel
Going back to a college favorite - Diane Ackerman writes wonderful mini-essays. Lots of interesting tidbits and encouragement to not just burrow back under the covers when the dawn chorus wakes me up.
Rebecca
Sep 24, 2009 Rebecca marked it as to-read
I'm going to be going to a reading Monday morning at 8 a.m. (9/28/09) at Elliott Bay Books with Diane Ackerman for her new book "Dawn Light." I love going to readings and I'm curious about her.
Debra
What a splendid book. Ms Ackerman lyrically relates dawn, usually my least favorite of times, to science, mythology, literature and herself in an utterly charming, enthralling book.
Francesca
So beautifully written and engaging, I learned so many interesting facts and connections between man and nature, and our shared rhythms and passages; poetic prose at its most insightful.
Susan
More like poetry than prose, Ackerman's reflections on light and nature reveal the webs of connection between human and the natural world. To be savored rather than read.
Anne
Nov 09, 2010 Anne added it
Shelves: gave-up
I got through to page 50 but am going to give it up. I am not sure if it's just uninteresting or me just being down in the dumps as to why I can't get into it.
Patricia
These essays do incite awareness and gratitude. It's just that I'm struggling with the short essay form that drops me just as I've got all interested.
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Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the best-selling The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. She lives with her husband Paul West in Ithaca, New York.
More about Diane Ackerman...
The Zookeeper's Wife A Natural History of the Senses A Natural History of Love One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain

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