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H Is For Hawk

A surprisingly poignant read about an unfamiliar topic.

For many people, nonfiction means textbooks. Thick, boring textbooks filled with facts that need to be memorised when they are not understood. Nonfiction is the species of writing people read when they want to sound smart at dinner parties, or the thing really old people read when they can no longer keep up with the imaginative world of fiction. As such, recommending a nonfiction book to readers, especially fiction readers, can be a hard task.

However, there are ways to do it.

Start with H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald, a 2014 memoir about a woman reeling from her father’s recent loss. Good, that is the crux of the story. Family, grief and loss, all of these are familiar ingredients for storytelling. Readers know how to navigate these themes. Now to make it interesting: the woman in question is a falconer, she keeps, trains, and hunts with birds of prey. Immediately after her father’s death she takes on the task of training a goshawk, one of the hardest hunting birds to train, partly because she loves goshawks and partly to deal with her grief. What follows, then, is probably one of the most unexpected tales of family, loss and disconnection, the inexplicable human and animal bond, the ongoing conflicts between society and the natural world, the history of falconry, and, surprisingly, a piercing exploration of masculinity.

I end the recommendation with this: “Once you read this you will never look at nonfiction the same way ever again. I promise you.”

If that does not work, well, you tried. It is their loss.


~Rémy Ngamije

Buy now on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KGT6Lk

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