Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World

Books on Tape. Jun. 2023. 10:26 hrs. ISBN 9780593684719. $85.50. MEMOIR
This unforgettable memoir, featuring fun birdsongs between chapters, is well narrated by Cooper, the science and comics writer who was falsely accused of threatening a white woman in Central Park in 2020 as she was walking her dog and he was bird-watching. Listeners who only know Cooper from that viral video will be delighted to discover that the Central Park encounter is not even close to being the most interesting thing about this self-described “Black gay activist birder.” Cooper shares his captivating life story in a pleasant, raspy voice, from his Long Island childhood and college experiences at Harvard to his globetrotting adventures, while elegantly exploring weighty issues such as generational trauma and Black and LGBTQIA+ intersectionality. One of Marvel’s first openly gay writers, Cooper describes how he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality and how his hobby helped him develop the skill set that helps him to travel more easily through the world as a gay Black man.
VERDICT This brilliant multidimensional nonfiction debut by Cooper, now the host of National Geographic’s Extraordinary Birder, should be cherished by all memoir fans and will strike a chord with his fellow sci-fi and comics fans.
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