Hot Best Seller

The Delightful Horror of Family Birding: Sharing Nature with the Next Generation

Availability: Ready to download

Eli Knapp takes readers from a leaky dugout canoe in Tanzania and the mating grounds of Ecuador's cock-of-the-rock to a juniper titmouse's perch at the Grand Canyon and the migration of hooded mergansers in a New York swamp, exploring life's deepest questions all along the way. In this collection of essays, Knapp intentionally flies away from the flock, reveling in insight Eli Knapp takes readers from a leaky dugout canoe in Tanzania and the mating grounds of Ecuador's cock-of-the-rock to a juniper titmouse's perch at the Grand Canyon and the migration of hooded mergansers in a New York swamp, exploring life's deepest questions all along the way. In this collection of essays, Knapp intentionally flies away from the flock, reveling in insights gleaned from birds, his students, and the wide-eyed wonder his children experience. The Delightful Horror of Family Birding navigates the world in hopes that appreciation of nature will burn intensely for generations to come, not peter out in merely a flicker. Whether traveling solo or with his students or children, Knapp levels his gaze on the birds that share our skies, showing that birds can be a portal to deeper relationships, ecological understanding, and newfound joy.


Compare

Eli Knapp takes readers from a leaky dugout canoe in Tanzania and the mating grounds of Ecuador's cock-of-the-rock to a juniper titmouse's perch at the Grand Canyon and the migration of hooded mergansers in a New York swamp, exploring life's deepest questions all along the way. In this collection of essays, Knapp intentionally flies away from the flock, reveling in insight Eli Knapp takes readers from a leaky dugout canoe in Tanzania and the mating grounds of Ecuador's cock-of-the-rock to a juniper titmouse's perch at the Grand Canyon and the migration of hooded mergansers in a New York swamp, exploring life's deepest questions all along the way. In this collection of essays, Knapp intentionally flies away from the flock, reveling in insights gleaned from birds, his students, and the wide-eyed wonder his children experience. The Delightful Horror of Family Birding navigates the world in hopes that appreciation of nature will burn intensely for generations to come, not peter out in merely a flicker. Whether traveling solo or with his students or children, Knapp levels his gaze on the birds that share our skies, showing that birds can be a portal to deeper relationships, ecological understanding, and newfound joy.

30 review for The Delightful Horror of Family Birding: Sharing Nature with the Next Generation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Babbitt

    This is a book about life as much as it is about birds. Each chapter is a self-contained story, a step in a larger journey of exploration, discovery, mystery and revelation. And it’s full of the most head-shaking puns you’ve ever read. I learned a lot of facts about birds that I’ll likely forget. I also learned some insights and lessons about life and our world and what’s important that I likely will carry forever.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    How do we ignite a love for nature in young people? If you follow Eli Knapp's model, you do it with humor, gentle insight, and love for both children and the natural world. Knapp (avid birder, father of three, and professor of biology) has plenty of experience engaging young people in the wonders of nature. His usual method is to take them outdoors to learn about birds. Birding may be the lesson plan, but life is the lesson. "Life is at its richest when we go outdoors together and keep our eyes o How do we ignite a love for nature in young people? If you follow Eli Knapp's model, you do it with humor, gentle insight, and love for both children and the natural world. Knapp (avid birder, father of three, and professor of biology) has plenty of experience engaging young people in the wonders of nature. His usual method is to take them outdoors to learn about birds. Birding may be the lesson plan, but life is the lesson. "Life is at its richest when we go outdoors together and keep our eyes open," Knapp writes. Arranged into short essays, this book is a perfect read for a busy parent or teacher. It's never preachy; the stories are often quite funny, in fact. The title essay was sparked by a family road trip featuring a bird blind Knapp calls "the arachnid capital of the world." Not all attempts to share nature with kids work smoothly. But sometimes they do. In one of my favorite essays, "One Short of a Parliament," Knapp engages his seven-year-old son's curiosity by using the phrase "a murder of crows" to explain collective nouns. Knapp's teaching style is so gentle that you don't even realize you're learning why "a scold of jays" makes sense but "a chain of bobolinks" does not. From wildlife refuges to wastewater treatment plants to the wilds of Tanzania, birds—and opportunities to engage with nature—are all around us, as these essays prove. Wherever you are, however busy your life may be, Knapp's curiosity and sense of wonder will send you eagerly outdoors, binoculars in hand and family in tow, to see what the birds are doing. It's an inspiring read for anyone who wants to share a love for nature with young people.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Dilling

    I’m so conflicted about how to rate this book. Eli J Knapp is a great nature writer. I enjoyed muxh if this book. I appreciate birds (and my grandmother and my father’s love of birds) much more as a result of this book. I feel the need to buy binoculars and get out into nature more often. But so many of the stories in this book have a similar tone and feel. Too similar. It’s like he follows a writing format with each story he writes. Here is something that happened in my life that has to do with I’m so conflicted about how to rate this book. Eli J Knapp is a great nature writer. I enjoyed muxh if this book. I appreciate birds (and my grandmother and my father’s love of birds) much more as a result of this book. I feel the need to buy binoculars and get out into nature more often. But so many of the stories in this book have a similar tone and feel. Too similar. It’s like he follows a writing format with each story he writes. Here is something that happened in my life that has to do with birds, nature, my students looking at birds in nature — and here is the overly simplistic moral to my ponderings. The story beginnings and the way the endings are tied with a “moral to the story” bow are somewhat “cheesy”. Knapp also has the annoying habit of using “cacophony” far more than any human on the planet should in one book. So much good — such passionate writing. But I didn’t LOVE it. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had read the book over a longer period of time and taken breaks between stories.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Essay compilations are not usually my preferred reading material, but I LOVED this little book! I don't say this about many books I've read, but I'm likely to return to this one. The author communicates his passion for our feathered friends and the wonders of the natural world with brilliant, thoughtful and witty writing, and at times it felt as if his words were speaking directly to me. I even broke one of my cardinal rules and dog-eared a few pages with quotes I want to remember. Here are a fe Essay compilations are not usually my preferred reading material, but I LOVED this little book! I don't say this about many books I've read, but I'm likely to return to this one. The author communicates his passion for our feathered friends and the wonders of the natural world with brilliant, thoughtful and witty writing, and at times it felt as if his words were speaking directly to me. I even broke one of my cardinal rules and dog-eared a few pages with quotes I want to remember. Here are a few that touched my heart: - "Birders are birding. Always." (from 5. Birders Can't Ride Shotgun) - "For what I may lack in birding breadth, I can make up for in depth. Right here at home." (from 26. Frustration or Fervor) - "I pursue nature because I care about it. And I care about it because, well, just because." (from 27. Just Because) A must-read for birders and nature lovers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joy Matteson

    Well, it turned me into a birder. THANKS ELI KNAPP!! It was just lovely. Not too much about sharing nature with the next generation, but his delightful turns of phrase and self deprecating ways of discussing his obsessive bird chasing made me a huge fan. If you like birds even just a little bit--go read this!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eli Knapp

    What I think about this tome is a bit biased. ;)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Paris

    A fantastic look into appreciating nature, specifically birds. Funny, insightful and humble, this is a fun and laid back read, even for someone who isn’t an avid birder (although you may become one by the end of the book).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    3.5 stars. Pretty enjoyable, but not about family birding.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 3.25 of 5 I was immediately attracted to this book because the title pretty much defines me. I was raised by an avid birder and my older brother might rival author Eli J. Knapp for obsessive birder behavior and my own children might think of me as too obsessive for their tastes (if they only knew...). I am a little conflicted on this book. It is presented as a book-length work of non-fiction, and judging by the title, about family This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 3.25 of 5 I was immediately attracted to this book because the title pretty much defines me. I was raised by an avid birder and my older brother might rival author Eli J. Knapp for obsessive birder behavior and my own children might think of me as too obsessive for their tastes (if they only knew...). I am a little conflicted on this book. It is presented as a book-length work of non-fiction, and judging by the title, about family birding and the struggles (or "delightful horror") of birding as a family. The non-fiction part is correct. The book reads as though it is a series of essays, all about various aspects of a personal experience birding, and then loosely connected to make one long narrative. At first I found this jarring ... wondering how we got from story A to story B, but once I decided to read this like a series of individual essays, I found the reading easier because I wasn't always trying to connect the different people in a story. But as to the 'family' part ... I guess, if you roughly consider your family a wider audience - particularly, say, your students if you are a university-level teacher - then maybe yes, we can find some family birding here, but this title implies something that really isn't delivered. And, again looking at the title, I'm not quite sure where the 'delightful horror' is. Is it because I am also a birder (though not nearly as obsessive) that I don't see the horror? Or is it because there really isn't anything horrific here and it's just hyperbole to sell the book? I am not sure. To the stories themselves ... Knapp is a delightful storyteller and he clearly understands that his passion is on the obsessive side and pokes a little fun at it. Occasionally we get some good information about some specific birds that Knapp is chasing in one of his essays. For the very casual birder, I think these little scientific insights are good, but for the more faithful, these might be superfluous. At times this is clever and entertaining and I know birders who will recognize themselves here at various stages and I was really hoping I might find a book that I could share with some birding friends, but as my reactions is a shrug of the shoulders and an "eh" this turns out not to be a book that I'd eagerly give to fellow birders. Looking for a good book? The Delightful Horror of Family Birding by Eli J. Knapp has a misleading title, but the series of essays within may appeal to some and dedicated (i.e. "obsessive") birders will recognize themselves herein. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa-Michele

    Despite a bizarre title, this is a fairly educational book about birds and the people who love them. Knapp writes a series of essays about his fascination with birds and the effect it has on those around him, including his incredibly patient wife and small children. "'Gimme your bins, Dad!' Ezra demanded, his absence of manners almost as troubling as his incredulity. I glanced at him in the rearview mirror. Here was a scientist - a born skeptic - squeezed into a nine-year-old body." Knapp is a p Despite a bizarre title, this is a fairly educational book about birds and the people who love them. Knapp writes a series of essays about his fascination with birds and the effect it has on those around him, including his incredibly patient wife and small children. "'Gimme your bins, Dad!' Ezra demanded, his absence of manners almost as troubling as his incredulity. I glanced at him in the rearview mirror. Here was a scientist - a born skeptic - squeezed into a nine-year-old body." Knapp is a professor of biology at Houghton College in real life. He takes his family and his students to the wild with him regularly in search of obscure birds. Some appreciate his efforts; others find him insufferable. He is well aware of both reactions. I enjoyed reading his essays about how birding makes a person into a more observant student of nature. "We birders pay attention. Consciously or not, we're perpetually scanning: tree limbs, rooflines, hilltops. We study contours, scrutinize specks, and look for irregularity. Usually we find nothing. Occasionally, lightning strikes. And when it does, and that irregularity turns into a great gray owl...Over time, our well of memorable sightings deepens and our connection to place - our place - grows stronger." I learned about deaths of northern Flickers, conservation of Golden Eagles, cruelty of brown-headed Cowbirds, and beauty of Scarlet Tanagers. I learned about Darwin and Wilson and Emerson and Thoreau. It was so well-done that it left me heading out to spot a bird or two. And I appreciated his reflections on the dilemmas of practicing science in the modern world. He writes that he desperately wants to do one thing well but understands the need to know more than just the "lead actors" in the bird world. "I want to know the extras, the costume producers, camera crew, even the caterers...Darwin was a curious polymath but had an added ability to ignore what wasn't right in front of him. He finished what he started. That's how he mastered barnacles. It was this rare combination of gifts that made him the ultimate portal through which millions have passed. His ability to generalize, specialize, and then generalize again has given us all a better understanding of the tree of life and, ultimately, why it's so crucial to conserve it." Here's to barnacles and portals!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Here is a list of adjectives that came to me while reading and in reflection: clever, humorous, delightful, anecdotal, educational, informative. The book has great quotes at the beginning of chapters, special ink-drawn pictures of birds by John Rhett, and personal stories. The author is a professor of intercultural studies and biology at Houghton College and director of the Houghton in Tanzania program. Thank you, Davies family! Knapp: “I’m convinced the best paths take us to places we didn’t know Here is a list of adjectives that came to me while reading and in reflection: clever, humorous, delightful, anecdotal, educational, informative. The book has great quotes at the beginning of chapters, special ink-drawn pictures of birds by John Rhett, and personal stories. The author is a professor of intercultural studies and biology at Houghton College and director of the Houghton in Tanzania program. Thank you, Davies family! Knapp: “I’m convinced the best paths take us to places we didn’t know we wanted to go.” Knapp: “Nature has so much to teach us. To learn, we may have to give up control and let nature lead. Maybe, like the birds, we all just need to wing it.” Knapp: “Fear can be learned, and it can also be paralyzing . . . . I like the way neuroscientist Seth Norrholm described it. ‘Fear,’ he wrote, ‘can cause us to take the low road or the high road.’ All any of us need, really — is a decision to take the high road.” Knapp: “The only predictable part of nature is its unpredictability.” Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” Elite Wiesel: “For me, every hour is grace.” Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.” Saint Francis of Assisi: “O Lord of love and kindness, who created the beautiful earth and all the creatures walking and flying in it, so that thy may proclaim your glory, I thank you to my dying day that you have placed me amongst them.” A scold of jays. A murmuration of starlings. An unkindness of ravens. A bouquet of ring-necked pheasants. A charm of goldfinches. An exaltation of larks. A convocation of eagles. A congregation of plovers. A descent of woodpeckers.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    Probably 3.5. It's a series of short vignettes from the life of an ornithologist/birder. He reminds me of a few biology faculty members I know. Each chapter is centered on a search or encounter with a particular species of bird or an outing to a particular place. Many of these are with students along as part of classes he teaches, others just Eli, or with his kids in tow. Each chapter has one or more biological lessons and a "life lesson." At first, these were interesting and made every little d Probably 3.5. It's a series of short vignettes from the life of an ornithologist/birder. He reminds me of a few biology faculty members I know. Each chapter is centered on a search or encounter with a particular species of bird or an outing to a particular place. Many of these are with students along as part of classes he teaches, others just Eli, or with his kids in tow. Each chapter has one or more biological lessons and a "life lesson." At first, these were interesting and made every little dip into the book feel satisfying. By the end, it felt a bit like being force-fed cookies. I feel bad criticizing, because as I said, the author reminded me of so many people I know that it feels like I'm dissing a friend's work. Mostly a good book, I just probably should have not tried to plow through it as it tended to be a little Reader's Digest-y.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barbm1020

    Eli Knapp's book tells a little about his family, a little about his students (he's a college biology teacher) and a lot about Eli. He's unabashed in admitting to a love of Big Words and Facts. But it turns out that he loves the real life adventure of going outdoors and getting all wet and dirty and Seeing Birds Doing Things. Which for me redeems the whole story. It seems that a certain amount of hubris is necessary to succeed as a big time bird nerd, and his exploits in quest of the next rare sp Eli Knapp's book tells a little about his family, a little about his students (he's a college biology teacher) and a lot about Eli. He's unabashed in admitting to a love of Big Words and Facts. But it turns out that he loves the real life adventure of going outdoors and getting all wet and dirty and Seeing Birds Doing Things. Which for me redeems the whole story. It seems that a certain amount of hubris is necessary to succeed as a big time bird nerd, and his exploits in quest of the next rare species are sometimes hilarious and sometimes a bit more on the order of the human learning experience. Of course there's a little about the birds themselves, and that's nice for an armchair bird watcher like me. The charming drawings between the chapters are like species logos. I think I'd like a chickadee tee shirt. Definitely worth a read if you like watching birds.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Geary

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a collection of essays and anecdotes about nature and birds by the author, who is a birder, a paddler, and a professor of biology in New York. Some of the stories are poignant, many are humorous, all are very thought-provoking in many different ways. It was one of those rare books that once you start reading it, you don’t want to stop reading, you don’t want to do anything else but read this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    A lovely collection of thoughtful essays.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julianne E Hale

    I love birds and Eli Knapp seems like a kindred spirit. I read an essay a night for about a month and enjoyed them. In each, i was compelled to learn more about the bird he was seeking. Good stuff.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    A collection of essays -- some excellent, some tiresome.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    A good, fun, quick read for birders to enjoy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Woody

    A delightful mix of stories, anecdotes, science, bird and wildlife encounters infused with a spirit of joy. I would like to meet this guy some day. We are kindred spirits.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    What a fun read!!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This was a fun read for this bird nerd. I think most birders would find it entertaining, especially those intent upon sharing their passion for birds with children or students. For myself, birding is a hobby I share with my spouse, so I was a bit put off by the author’s seeming lack of consideration for his non- birding wife, who seems to be relegated to less desirable pursuits to enable her husband to slip away and enjoy himself. As his adventures are also a part of his profession (teaching) I’ This was a fun read for this bird nerd. I think most birders would find it entertaining, especially those intent upon sharing their passion for birds with children or students. For myself, birding is a hobby I share with my spouse, so I was a bit put off by the author’s seeming lack of consideration for his non- birding wife, who seems to be relegated to less desirable pursuits to enable her husband to slip away and enjoy himself. As his adventures are also a part of his profession (teaching) I’ll cut him some slack, but I felt rather sorry for his wife and small kids at times! Overall, these were entertaining essays written with humor and just enough technical detail to interest someone already obsessed with birds.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Brown

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie Daneman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  28. 4 out of 5

    Neill Vanhinsberg

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Fischer

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelsie Ashley

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...