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Vesper Flights

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  911 ratings  ·  265 reviews
Animals don't exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

Helen Macdonald's bestselling debut H is for Hawk brought the astonishing story of her relationship with goshawk Mabel to global critical acclaim and announced Macdonald as one of this century's most important an
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Grove Press
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  911 ratings  ·  265 reviews


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Paromjit
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The award winning Helen Macdonald's eye wanders far and wide in this thoughtful, sensitive, poetic and beautifully written collection of essays, some more substantial than others, on the complexities of the natural world, the environment, climate change, and people. She looks at flocks, made up of huge numbers of individual birds, a marvel of nature, linking it with attitudes to refugees, often seen as a mass to be judged and feared, a parallel where Helen suggests they should be viewed as indiv ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
We are in, what the scientists are calling, the sixth extinction. This is a man-made event due to our actions and inactions. Though McDonakd is aware of this, that is not the main focus of these wonderful essays.

"I hope that this book works a little like a Wunderkammer. It is full of strange things and it is concerned with the quality of wonder."/

Si she goes on to show us the wonder, the magical that nature provides. From a field, where as a child she would lie face down to discover what was hid
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Elyse  Walters
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook....read by Helen Macdonald

It took me awhile to finish this audiobook/memoir....
I enjoyed these essays a little at a time - best when being outdoors myself.

There are over 40 essays...about nature, birds, butterflies, other animals, insects....
....nature in every shape and form....
climate change, and other phenomena’s of the physical world.
Helen engages us with thoughts about philosophy, psychology, theology, spiritualism.....and being moral human beings.
She shared a wonderful story
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Meike
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: uk, 2020-read
Naturalist Helen Macdonald, author of the immensely successful H is for Hawk, gives us a collection of 41 (!) texts about the "love for the glittering world of non-human life around us", as she herself explains. As the book contains only 272 pages, there are many short essays and even shorter vignettes, combining information about wildlife and meditating on the fact that us humans tend to see our natural surroundings as mirrors of ourselves, that we search for meaning pertaining to our position ...more
Kathleen
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Macdonald has written a delightful set of essays chronicling her many encounters with the natural world, particularly with birds. Her excellent writing brings alive the wonder of various bird species. Enjoy!
Michael Livingston
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just adore Helen Macdonald - she writes about the natural world with wonder and joy. Nobody captures the feelings that paying attention to animals can bring as well as she does. This is a collection of essays and is inevitably a bit scattershot, but so many of these pieces hit me right in the heart - the migratory birds streaming above the empire state building at night, the fledgling swift lifting off Helen's hand, the wounded stalk that illustrated bird migration - there's just so much amazi ...more
Hugh
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Helen Macdonald's first book since H is for Hawk, which made it an obvious one to suggest when I was asked what books I would like as birthday presents. That book was beautiful and deeply personal, both as a study of grief and as an introduction to falconry.

This book is rather more difficult to categorise, as it consists of over 40 short essays, many of which started life as commissions for the New York Times magazine and The New Statesman. There is still a degree of unity, and the arran
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Krista
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
On warm summer evenings swifts that aren't sitting on eggs or tending their chicks fly low and fast, screaming in speeding packs around rooftops and spires. Later, they gather higher in the sky, their calls now so attenuated by air and distance that to the ear they corrode into something that seems less than sound, to suspicions of dust and glass. And then, all at once, as if summoned by a call or bell, they rise higher and higher until they disappear from view. These ascents are called vespers
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Diane Barnes
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bedtime-books
I loved these essays. Just like in H Is For Hawk, Helen MacDonald makes me look at nature differently; become more observant of what's going on around me. I love watching the birds that come to my feeders, but now I'm aware of what goes on in the trees and the skies. These essays are elegant and peaceful reading, and I learned something new from each of them.
Lou
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the award-winning author of H is for Hawk, a brilliant and insightful work about our relationship to the natural world. Our world is a fascinating place, teeming not only with natural wonders that defy description, but complex interactions that create layers of meaning. Helen Macdonald is gifted with a special lens that seems to peer right through it all, and she shares her insights--at times startling, nostalgic, weighty, or simply entertaining--in this masterful collection of essays. From ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I regret that I've never gotten around to reading H is for Hawk so I jumped at the chance to read Macdonald's latest book, Vesper Flights--a collection of essays that are mostly personal memoir and how she came to be so in love with the natural world around her, but also sprinkled with tidbits of British history and modern day politics. Her experiences and thoughts on birds, nature and the environment are fascinating. Is our ignorance of what we are doing to the Earth rather like frogs in a pot ...more
Vartika
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be human is to see ourselves as the center of the world, to hold nature at an arms length and look at it as a mirror of ourselves; separate from us but not entirely discrete; a reflection of our needs, our thoughts, and our lives.Vesper Flights; a collection of over 40 luminous narrative essays by the acclaimed naturalist Helen Macdonald; brings the natural world out of the woods not as an entity we have dominion over but as something beautifully complex and worthy of sav(our)ing for reasons ...more
Joy D
In this series of forty-one essays, Helen Macdonald writes beautifully about the natural world and how humans interact with it. It is a unique combination of scientific and poetic writing. She addresses topics such as deer, hares, swans, various birds, mushrooms, badgers, trees, and fireflies. She offers insight into habitat destruction, decreasing biodiversity, and climate change. She includes observations about Brexit and the refugee crisis. It can feel a bit fragmented and, as in many collect ...more
Mary
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book of essays by Helen MacDonald the author of Hawk. Her essays focus on nature. She writes about animals, trees, landscapes, and how these relate to mankind. MacDonald is very knowledgeable and a fine writer.

Her essays in Vespers are thought pieces that can be enjoyed again and again. The book could almost be used as a daily devotional. Each offering will open up a reader’s sense of wonder. Her vivid descriptions of birds and their various nature’s leave no doubt that she loves h
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Kasa Cotugno
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald wrote a showstopper that was at the top of many lists. Vesper Flights, beginning with its beautiful title, is composed of numerous essays, and at least in the prepublication galley I had, they are all strung together, no breaks. Until I understood this odd presentation, I had to put on the brakes and reread several "beginnings" to regather the context. But the material itself is mesmerizing. Whether she is talking about migratory habits and going to the top of ...more
Makenzie
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-favourites
A Helen Macdonald book was exactly what my tired brain needed. I read H is for Hawk around this time last year, and I think I will always associate her writing with the transition of summer into fall. These essays and vignettes evoke such wonder for animals, both in how we see them as mirrors for ourselves, but also in how we impose our own meanings onto them, and how much we will never know and understand about them. I particularly enjoyed the pieces about animals as nationalist symbols, such a ...more
Jessica Haider
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Vesper Flights is a collection of beautifully written long essays about nature and animals. Macdonald has a way with words and does a wonderful job sharing her love of the animal kingdom. The whole vibe of the book overall is very meditative and relaxing, even when she is discussing animals in trouble. She uses her observations of animals to highlight things she's learned about herself and humanity. This is a great book to read in several doses during quiet moments.

If you haven't read her previ
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Story
I liked but did not love this diverse collection of essays about nature, plants, animals and humans' troubled relationship with the natural world. I think perhaps if I had been reading this slowly, in paper rather than as an e-book, I might have found it a more satisfying read. Nonetheless, a solid collection filled with interesting ideas and reflections.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
In her introduction, author Helen Macdonald hopes Vesper Flights will serve as a Wunderkammer, a Cabinet of Curiosities, a cabinet of wonders. And it is. It truly is.

Macdonald explores all sorts of things she is interested in, most of which are closely associated with nature. Birds' nests and birds' eggs, and whether or not it is right to collect these. The miracle of wild boars (don't, under any circumstances, tell a US naturalist this). Field guides. The meadow near her childhood home. Seeing
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Indran Fernando
Sep 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
At 172 pages, I think I've earned the right to mark this as Did Not Finish. I was really looking forward to reading some artfully written reflections on the natural world. The New York Times review suggested that Macdonald focuses on the way in which humans treat animals as a canvas on which to project our preconceived cultural ideas (about gender, for example).

Disappointingly, this thought-provoking premise hasn't been addressed in any depth so far. The book comes across as a mishmash re-issuin
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Kirsty
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The audiobook, narrated by Macdonald herself, is a real delight.
Justine
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Press for providing an ARC!
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Since I watched a video in which a Booktuber (probably abookolive) was reviewing H is for Hawk , I want to read Helen MacDonald. So, when I saw this book on NetGalley, how could I resist?

Vesper Flights is a collection of (rather) short essays about different topics, but mostly focused on nature, animals and our relationship with it and them. It also deals with home, immigration, climate change, emotio
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vicki honeyman
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a lover of birds . . . well, of anything and everything in the natural world . . . you might feel you could have written this collection of essays yourself. Each piece is a delicate vignette of minute, sensitive discoveries in the natural world. I so admire Helen MacDonald for her heartfelt appreciation of all the things in nature that pull at my own heart. I nominate her "Nature Writer Queen."
Paul
May 01, 2020 marked it as to-read
I won't say much about this because the author is almost a sure bet, whatever she produces. If you're a nature lover on any level, and maybe even if you're not, this is likely to resonate with you. 4.5 Stars.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
Isaiah
Aug 24, 2020 rated it liked it
To see more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

I got an ARC of this book.

I need to be clear, this book is amazingly written and it would probably be the exact sort of book that some of my friends would like. It just didn’t work for me. This is all on me.

The writing is gorgeous. This is the second book by Macdonald that I have read. Well, the first was an audio book. It is THE audio book I suggest to everyone who is looking for something that is peaceful. It is the best audio book I have ever list
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Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
3.5/5

Helen MacDonald’s essay collection Vesper Flights touches on a myriad of topics ranging from personal memoir, anecdotal, musings on nature, science, birds, observations from the natural world, all filled with a sense of wonderment and genuine curiosity for this immensely diverse planet we inhabit. Some tonally felt more melancholic, the way urbanization and humans have needlessly encroached on wild spaces, our tendency to experience our surroundings as mirrors of ourselves. Some felt more j
...more
Beth
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of Macdonald and this collection of essays didn't disappoint. I loved how she interwove everyday issues (allergies, migraines, Brexit) with her experiences with nature -- especially birds. If you're an audiobook fan, you should consider listening; Macdonald is wonderful to listen to. You don't need to read the essays in order, but don't miss any of them. See AudioFile magazine for my published review.
Chris Neumann
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books
Probably the most impactful book about animals, the environment, and the natural world that I've ever read. This should be mandatory reading for all high school students. Highly recommended.
Nancy
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I heard so much about Helen Macdonald's book H is for Hawk that I picked it up but had not had time to read it because of all my egalley reviewing. When I saw her book Vesper Flights I requested it--I would finally have to read Macdonald!

The essays in Vesper Flights include a broad range of subjects including climate change, species extinction, migraine headaches, bird migration, and solar eclipses. The wonder of the natural world is beautifully experienced through Macdonald's words.

When Macdona
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Katie
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spring is perhaps a really fitting time to read Helen MacDonald’s ‘Vesper Flights’. Nature is beginning to awaken and chase winter away; new life is all around and the warmer days are arriving. Reading this collection of essays really made me aware of the world around me and, in particular, the song of birds. Admittedly, I know very little about the so many different species that exist but this book made me look towards the sky and listen.
With topics from mushroom picking to migraines, MacDonald
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Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, historian, illustrator and naturalist. She's worked as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, as a professional falconer, and in raptor research and conservation projects across Eurasia. She is an affiliate of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She lives in Suffolk, UK.

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“Later (swifts) gather higher in the sky...And then, all at once, as if summoned by a call or a bell, they rise higher and higher until they disappear from view. These ascents are called vesper flights....Vespers are evening devotional prayers, the last and the most solemn of the day, and I have always thought 'vesper flights' the most beautiful phrase, an ever-falling blue.” 2 likes
“(T)he world is full of people busily making things into how they think the world ought to be, and burning huge parts of it to the ground, utterly and accidentally destroying things in the process without even knowing they are doing so. And that any of us might be doing that without knowing it, any of us, all the time.” 1 likes
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