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Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Sam Keen, the New York Times best-selling author of Fire in the Belly, has spent a lifetime reflecting on nature. In Sightings, a collection of essays, bird watching forms the basis for observations spiritual and soulful, witty and wise. He describes his childhood ramblings in the silence of the Tennessee wilderness as feeling distinctly more spiritualthan the hard pews of ...more
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Chronicle Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  154 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Suzanne Lagasa
Mar 14, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
I'll probably read this when I retired, when I'm old and full of time to reflect... ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An amazing, gentle, sometimes piercingly true book. Keen shares and perfectly captures my "trail religion," that sense of belonging and willing self-abandonment in and to the natural world. Almost immediately, a few pages in, I knew that here was a kindred spirit. This collection of vignettes feels like prayer and grace. ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Birds, mid-century America, spirituality. And it is well written.
Erica Leigh
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. I had to force myself to slow down so I could savor both the rich writing and the delightful illustrations. I highlighted at least one (if not more) passage in each essay and I fully expect this to be a book I pick up to reread more than once in the years to come.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I absolutely loved this book because it ended up being so much more than I thought it would be. I've had it "on the shelf" with the intention of reading it for a long time and I'm so glad I finally did. The author describes how he grew up in the church and had a crisis of belief and was questioning his faith, but how nature has become a way to be close to God. He describes his own encounters with birds in the wild and fabled stories of rare birds. It was a lovely look at nature and another examp ...more
Cathy Houston
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
eloquent writing; the agnostic author finds a religious awe among birds
Kelsey Strum
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not for everybody. Beautiful illustrations and perfect for anyone who is fascinated with birds.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some bird insights, mostly though it seemed like a paean to himself.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nr
A calming well-constructed distraction during these troubling times.
Rambling and philosophical essays about birds and other creatures. I rated this high for the lovely illustrations and for the way the compact book felt nice in my hands.
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Lovely short stories about birds and the search for faith. Beautiful illustrations.
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Want to read something soothing at bedtime? This charming book is it.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Maybe 3.5 stars. I found the opening and closing essays off-putting (too holier-than-thou for my taste) so that put me off, but the middle parts were full of wonder.
Joshua Buhs
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This was . . . fine. Less than compelling--it took me the better part of a month to finish a very short collection of essays--but fine.

Keen uses his life-long love of birds to structure various autobiographical anecdotes, like a bead on a strong, each essay tied to a particular bird. The writing is best when it focuses on the interactions, the small moments, and doesn't try so hard to make Meaning(TM) out of each episode. But let's be honest: this whole book is about making meaning.

So what could
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, spiritual
I highly recommend that you enter this book with a philosophical, spiritual mindset. The writing can be a bit dense, perhaps even flowery, but meeting the author halfway may yield positive results. If you're willing to have that conversation about our place in the universe, our interconnectedness with the world, and how all that relates to birds, then this will be for you. ...more
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Favorite quotes:

"Birders and other mystics are blessed with a special kind of vision of the world--the capacity to see eternity in a grain of sand or the presence of the sacred in the precision flying of a flock of blackbirds." ~ Sam Keen

"...we live under a 'cloud of unknowing' in a sacred cosmos in which we may be addressed in extraordinary ways by ordinary events." ~Jacob Boehm
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was not what I expected at all - but I really liked it. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up - I felt like the Introduction was setting this up to be a religious book, but turns out it was philosophy. I may get more of Mr. Keen's books now. ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marla Glenn
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-outdoors
Great bird stories. He's a wonderful naturalist. ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a bird watcher, though I love the creatures. This book is not just for birders, though. Loved it! Will definitely read more by Sam Keen. ...more
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful introduction - I could read this part alone over and over.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature, memoirs
This book wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be. There were some nice stories, but it was too philisophical for me. ...more
Dec 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A jewel of a book - the spiritual side of bird watching, one of my favorite hobbies. This book touches on the wonder of birds - very beautiful. Thanks, Christopher!
Gretchen Weller
rated it it was amazing
Dec 08, 2014
Linda Rudolph
rated it really liked it
May 25, 2013
rated it really liked it
Feb 20, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jun 09, 2011
Jen Yi
rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2018
Sherri Obermark
rated it it was amazing
Oct 11, 2015
rated it liked it
Jun 26, 2008
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I was over educated at Harvard and Princeton and was a professor of philosophy and religion at various legitimate institutions for 20 years before becoming a contributing editor of Psychology Today, a freelance thinker, lecturer, seminar leader, and consultant. I am the author of a bakers dozen books, a co-producer of an award winning PBS documentary, Faces of the Enemy. My work was the subject of ...more

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