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Steve Burrows on Birds and Books: The Stuff of Life

Book Cover A Siege of Bitterns

Steve Burrows' first book in the Birder Murder Mystery series is A Siege of Bitterns, which was published this spring to terrific reviews. It's the story of Inspector Domenic Jejeune, whose birding skills come in handy while solving crimes on England's Norfolk coast. Outside of murder mysteries, birds have played a big role in Burrows' life, through his nature writing and also as a hobby. In this guest post, he shares the pleasures of birding right in one's own backyard, and suggests that birds and literature are a natural fit. 

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When you think about it, there aren’t many things you can do for free while sitting in a chair that will transport you to another world. Reading fiction is one. Watching birds is another. To sit and watch the activity at backyard feeders is to enter a realm in which there will be much that is familiar to readers of great fiction. There are triumphs and tragedies, feuds and collaborations, rewards and injustice. In short, the stuff of life—all played out against a backdrop of suet and seed. But other story elements exist at the bird feeders, too, those that make us question, as all good fiction does, what we think we know, and what we hold dear.

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Chilling With Cool DIY Culture

Throughout this month, we've been thinking about chilling, about cold beverages, summer breezes, and all the best ways to relax. And one of these best ways to relax is, oddly, by keeping our hands busy, by making stuff, pursuing hobbies and craft. Such pastimes no longer come with a stodgy air. Partly thanks to books like these, DIY culture has never been so cool. 

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Book Cover Yarn Bombing

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore

Vancouver's Leanne Prain really is the Canadian Queen of Cool DIY. She made waves with her first book, Yarn Bombing, which she created with Mandy Moore. The book came around at just the right time, when yarn bombing was just beginning to be acknowledged as part of an international activist movement. Yarn Bombing received wide attention, notably in the New York Times with a feature that summed the book up just right: "It is part coffee-table book, with color photographs of creative bombs, and part tutorial, with tips like wearing "ninja" black to avoid capture. The book borrows from the vernacular of street graffiti and half-jokingly positions yarn bombing as an illicit alternative for knitters bored making yet another Christmas sweater. It asks readers to get off their rocking chairs and 'take back the knit.'" 

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