Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds (Nebraska, 2017) by B. J. Hollars. Hollars is an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of numerous books, including This Is Only a Test, From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us about Life, Death, and Being Human (Nebraska, 2015), and Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America.
About the book:
After stumbling upon a book of photographs depicting extinct animals, B.J. Hollars became fascinated by the creatures that are no longer with us; specifically, extinct North American birds.
How, he wondered, could we preserve so beautifully on film what we’ve failed to preserve in life?
And so begins his yearlong journey to find out, one that leads him from bogs to art museums, from archives to Christmas Counts, until he at last comes as close to extinct birds as he ever will during a behind-the-scenes visit at the Chicago Field Museum.
Heartbroken by the birds we’ve lost, Hollars takes refuge in those that remain. Armed with binoculars, a field guide, and knowledgeable friends, he begins his transition from budding birder to environmentally conscious citizen, a first step on a longer journey toward understanding the true tragedy of a bird’s song silenced forever.
Told with charm and wit, Flock Together is a remarkable memoir that shows how “knowing” the natural world—even just a small part—illuminates what it means to be a global citizen and how only by embracing our ecological responsibilities do we ever become fully human. A moving elegy to birds we’ve lost, Hollars’s exploration of what we can learn from extinct species will resonate in the minds of readers long beyond the final page.
“A finely crafted and often profound memoir.”—Geoff Kronik, Colorado Review
“A wonderful read. . . . It reminds us that while we need to strive and protect species that are at risk, we must also place value on keeping common species common.”—Tianna Burke, Canadian Field-Naturalist
“This book is an ode to birds and nature, as well as to the eclectic and individual private fascinations—such as birding—that make our lives unique and worthwhile.” —Pamela Miller, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“…expresses the ultimate reward that drives birders to brave the chilly winds of winter alone or together.” —Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History Magazine.
Interviews and mentions:
- Named one of the “12 Best Books About Birding in 2017” by Forbes
- Interviewed on KHOI Book Central
- Interviewed on The Wisconsin Podcast
On the blog:
- Publicist Picks: Birds, Assassinations, and Other February Books
- From the Desk of B. J. Hollars: The Search for the Elusive
- Excerpt: The Christmas Count