The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year


Product Details

$32.00  $29.76
Spiegel & Grau
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.3 X 1.1 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Margaret Renkl is the author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss and Graceland, At Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South. She is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear weekly. The founding editor of Chapter 16, a daily literary publication of Humanities Tennessee, and a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, she lives in Nashville.


"The Comfort of Crows is a howling love letter to the world, the story of what we've lost and what we can save and the abundance of wonder in our own backyard. Margaret Renkl is a singular, spectacular writer, and this book, like life itself, is a cause for celebration."--Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House"Reading Margaret Renkl always connects me more deeply to the natural world and to my own heart. The Comfort of Crows is an elegy, a provocation, and above all a love letter to the magnificence that still surrounds us, if only we are awake enough to look. I want to press it into the hands of everyone I know."--Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance

"Margaret Renkl has the mind of a naturalist and the soul of a poet. Let this magnificent devotional be your eye-opening, heart-expanding daily companion, and it will change how you see the world."--Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter

"This is a lovely prayer book centered on plants and animals, an important reminder of grace and of the necessity of placing public green spaces in reach of everyone."--Catherine Raven, author of Fox & I

"Luminous . . . Elegant, lucid essays follow the changing seasons, Renkl musing on the migratory and nesting patterns of birds, the encroaching effects of climate change, her own evolving family structure, and the incremental shifts of flora, fauna, and light. . . . The Comfort of Crows celebrates the beauty and durability of nature's age-old cycles and the habits of wild creatures, and it urges human beings to care for these same creatures--before some of them disappear altogether."--Shelf Awareness

"Renkl invites readers along on a year of loving outdoor observations in this gently moving memoir. . . . This gorgeous reflection on humanity's symbiotic relationship with the outdoors will transform the way readers interact with their own backyards."--Publishers Weekly

"This triumph of a book gives us a charming and wise friend to guide us over the course of a year, but I am certain Margaret Renkl's enchanting voice will echo for lifetimes to come. The Comfort of Crows is an instant classic, not just for the planet, but--and most importantly--for our hearts too."--Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders

"Insightful . . . Among the touching and relatable moments that nature lovers will appreciate are Renkl's memories of catching tadpoles in spring with her brother as a child in Alabama, the sound of summer thunderstorms and cicadas, and the unparalleled beauty of autumn light, 'the loveliest light there is'. . . . A welcome escape from the hectic world."--Kirkus

"Sprinkled liberally throughout are 'praise songs' . . . These little extras, just like the epigrams at the beginning of each essay, pack an extra punch into this tidy volume. . . . Readers can return to these pages often, through the seasons of their own lives."--Booklist

for Late Migrations

TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club
Pick * Winner of the 2020 Phillip D. Reed Environmental Writing Award *
Finalist for the Southern Book Prize

a "Best Book of the Year" by the New
* New York Public Library * Chicago Public Library * Foreword Reviews * Washington Independent Review of Books

Indie Next Selection * Indies Introduce Selection * Southern Independent Booksellers
Alliance (SIBA) Okra Pick

"Beautifully written, masterfully structured, and brimming
with insight into the natural world, Late
can claim its place alongside Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and A
Death in the Family
. It has the makings of an American classic."--Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

"[Renkl] is the most beautiful writer! I love this book.
It's about the South, and growing up there, and about her love of nature and
animals and her wonderful family."--Reese

"Reflective and gorgeous . . . I have recommended this book
to everybody that I know. It is a beautiful book about love, and [how] . . . to
find the beauty in the little things."--Jenna
Bush Hager, TODAY Show

"A vivid and original essay collection . . . This is the
kind of writing that makes me just want to stay put, reread and savor
everything about that moment."--Maureen
Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Equal parts Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott with a healthy
sprinkle of Tennessee dry rub thrown in."--New York Times Book Review

"A compact glory, crosscutting between consummate family
memoir and keenly observed backyard natural history. Renkl's deft
juxtapositions close up the gap between humans and nonhumans and revive our
lost kinship with other living things."--Richard
Powers, author of The Overstory

"Magnificent . . . Conjure your favorite place in the
natural world: beach, mountain, lake, forest, porch, windowsill rooftop?
Precisely there is the best place in which to savor this book."

"Late Migrations
has echoes of Annie Dillard's The Writing
--with grandparents, sons, dogs and birds sharing the spotlight, it's a
witty, warm and unaccountably soothing all-American story."--People

"[Renkl] guides us through a South lush with bluebirds,
pecan orchards, and glasses of whiskey shared at dusk in this collection of
prose in poetry-size bits; as it celebrates bounty, it also mourns the profound
losses we face every day."--O, the Oprah Magazine

"This warm, rich memoir might be the sleeper of the summer.
[Renkl] grew up in the South, nursed her aging parents, and never once lost her
love for life, light, and the natural world. Beautiful is the word, beautiful
all the way through."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is the story of grief accelerated by beauty and beauty
made richer by grief. . . . Like Patti Smith in Woolgathering, Renkl aligns natural history with personal history
so completely that the one becomes the other. Like Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Renkl makes, of
a ring of suburbia, an alchemical exotica."--The Rumpus

"The miniature essays in Late
approach with modesty, deliver bittersweet epiphanies, and feel
like small doses of religion."--Literary Hub

"Renkl captures the spirit and contemporary culture of the
American South better than anyone."--BookPage,
A 2019 Most Anticipated Nonfiction Book

"[A] magnificent debut . . . Renkl instructs that even amid
life's most devastating moments, there are reasons for hope and celebration.
Readers will savor each page and the many gems of wisdom they contain."--Publishers
(starred review)

"[Late Migrations]
is shot through with deep wonder and a profound sense of loss. It is a fine
feat, this book. Renkl intimately knows that 'this life thrives on death' and
chooses to sing the glory of being alive all the same."--Booklist

"A series of redolent snapshots and memories that seem to
halt time. . . . [Renkl's] narrative metaphor becomes the miraculous order of
nature . . . in all its glory and cruelty; she vividly captures 'the splendor
of decay.'"--Kirkus

Praise for Graceland,
At Last

of the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Winner of
the Southern Book Prize * An Indie Next Selection

A Garden & Gun Recommended
Read for Fall 2021 * A Country Living
Best Book of Fall 2021 * A Literary Hub Most
Anticipated Book of 2021

"[Graceland, At Last]
is Renkl at her most tender and most fierce. . . . Renkl's gift, just as it was
in her first book Late Migrations, is
to make fascinating for others what is closest to her heart. . . . What rises
in me after reading her essays is [John] Lewis' famous urging to get in good
trouble to make the world fairer and better. Many people in the South are doing
just that--and through her beautiful writing, Renkl is among them."--NPR

"In this luminous collection, Renkl delivers smart,
beautifully crafted personal and political observations. . . . I keep this book
nearby to revisit the humanity and hope in its pages."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Amazing and inspiring. [Graceland,
At Last
] will help you figure out concrete things you can do to save the
planet."--Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

"In 1956, author E.B. White suggested that newspapers cover
nature as eagerly as commerce, having columns devoted not only to the flow of
business but also the arrival of birds. Renkl . . . seems like a belated answer
to White . . . [crafting] graceful sentences that White would surely have
enjoyed."--Wall Street Journal

"Reading the short essays in this book has strengthened my understanding
and love for the South, its people, its land, and its complexities. . . . I
find myself looking to my changing backyard this fall with a new appreciation."--Garden
& Gun
, "New Reads for Fall 2021"

"[Renkl] doesn't shy from hard topics but explores them with
the careful hand of someone whose heart yearns for healing, growth, and
understanding for the region she loves. A must read for those who live and love
the South!"--Country Living, "Best Books of Fall 2021"

"If you've happened upon the poignant and off-road opinion
pieces Renkl writes as a contributor to The
New York Times
, you already know that the natural world is something she
closely observes and uses as a springboard to contemplate other, less tangible
subjects. . . . Her life story and her life's passion intertwine, like a fence
post and a trumpet vine."--Maureen
Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"It's heartening to see a columnist for a major American
newspaper writing so regularly about nature with a passion the media's chattering
classes typically reserve only for politics and entertainment. . . . Renkl's
columns deserve to be read again, and for years to come."--Christian Science Monitor

"Renkl's perspective feels like a guiding light. . . . No
matter where you're from, column after column, Renkl will make you feel right
at home."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Like nothing else in the newspaper, [Renkl's columns] burst
with awareness of the things of nature, awareness that our lives are led in
that midst, permeated with and part of the natural world. All is written with
an open, joyful, yet steady voice of wonder."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"Graceland, At Last
takes us to Renkl's homeland and shines a light on her life in the South, its
complexities and its hopes. . . . Reading Margaret Renkl is like seeing the
world in color for the first time."--Literary Hub, "Most Anticipated Books of
"Insightful . . . Among the touching and relatable moments that nature lovers will appreciate are Renkl's memories of catching tadpoles in spring with her brother as a child in Alabama, the sound of summer thunderstorms and cicadas, and the unparalleled beauty of autumn light, 'the loveliest light there is'. . . . A welcome escape from the hectic world."--Kirkus