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Birding with Yeats: A Mother's Memoir

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A delicately rendered memoir on motherhood, family, and the beauty of the natural world. In fall 2007, Lynn Thomson experiences a huge life shift. Her teenage son, Yeats, is just beginning high school. Yeats has always struggled against the system, against the pressure to conform. He is a poet at heart: acutely sensitive, highly intelligent, and solitary by nature. Lynn and A delicately rendered memoir on motherhood, family, and the beauty of the natural world. In fall 2007, Lynn Thomson experiences a huge life shift. Her teenage son, Yeats, is just beginning high school. Yeats has always struggled against the system, against the pressure to conform. He is a poet at heart: acutely sensitive, highly intelligent, and solitary by nature. Lynn and Yeats have always been close, but after fourteen years as a stay-at-home mom Lynn is going back to work for her husband, Ben, who has just opened his own bookstore. When Lynn and Yeats take a trip to Vancouver Island, they discover a mutual love of bird watching. Lynn is the only other person Yeats has found who loves nature and watching birds. Plus, she has a car. Lynn describes in wondrous detail the many trips she and Yeats take, from the Wye Marsh and Pelee Island in Ontario, to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, to an ill-fated trip to the Galapagos Islands. The two grow closer with each bird-watching expedition. At the same time, Lynn notices that her son is beginning to pull away — and she must learn to let go. Birding with Yeats is a delicate, sensitive, and gentle reflection on the unique bond between a mother and son, and the magic that is the natural world.


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A delicately rendered memoir on motherhood, family, and the beauty of the natural world. In fall 2007, Lynn Thomson experiences a huge life shift. Her teenage son, Yeats, is just beginning high school. Yeats has always struggled against the system, against the pressure to conform. He is a poet at heart: acutely sensitive, highly intelligent, and solitary by nature. Lynn and A delicately rendered memoir on motherhood, family, and the beauty of the natural world. In fall 2007, Lynn Thomson experiences a huge life shift. Her teenage son, Yeats, is just beginning high school. Yeats has always struggled against the system, against the pressure to conform. He is a poet at heart: acutely sensitive, highly intelligent, and solitary by nature. Lynn and Yeats have always been close, but after fourteen years as a stay-at-home mom Lynn is going back to work for her husband, Ben, who has just opened his own bookstore. When Lynn and Yeats take a trip to Vancouver Island, they discover a mutual love of bird watching. Lynn is the only other person Yeats has found who loves nature and watching birds. Plus, she has a car. Lynn describes in wondrous detail the many trips she and Yeats take, from the Wye Marsh and Pelee Island in Ontario, to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, to an ill-fated trip to the Galapagos Islands. The two grow closer with each bird-watching expedition. At the same time, Lynn notices that her son is beginning to pull away — and she must learn to let go. Birding with Yeats is a delicate, sensitive, and gentle reflection on the unique bond between a mother and son, and the magic that is the natural world.

30 review for Birding with Yeats: A Mother's Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mae

    I am so thankful for book-clubs as I get an opportunity to read books I would never otherwise even consider and this one is an excellent case in point! Thank you Lyndsie:) I enjoyed this book immensely - I found the word rhythm comforting and interesting - the bird watching was so secondary to the author's observations and experiences.....and her eloquence in describing an ordinary life with ordinary joys and frustrations just resonated with me. I have a habit (copied from my good friend Leslie) I am so thankful for book-clubs as I get an opportunity to read books I would never otherwise even consider and this one is an excellent case in point! Thank you Lyndsie:) I enjoyed this book immensely - I found the word rhythm comforting and interesting - the bird watching was so secondary to the author's observations and experiences.....and her eloquence in describing an ordinary life with ordinary joys and frustrations just resonated with me. I have a habit (copied from my good friend Leslie) whereby I turn up the bottom corners of any page that contains something I want to remember and there are a large number of turned up corners on this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    I'm a lackadaisical birder, and so the title interested me. The birding provides a narrative thread, of sorts, though the book is really about how parents do, and don't, let go of their kids. It is also about childhood anxiety. As a parent, I resonated with the descriptions of Yeats not wanting to do his school work, and getting all worked up about it. I enjoyed the books many small observations about life as a family. I wished, perhaps, for fewer descriptions of birds, and more examination of t I'm a lackadaisical birder, and so the title interested me. The birding provides a narrative thread, of sorts, though the book is really about how parents do, and don't, let go of their kids. It is also about childhood anxiety. As a parent, I resonated with the descriptions of Yeats not wanting to do his school work, and getting all worked up about it. I enjoyed the books many small observations about life as a family. I wished, perhaps, for fewer descriptions of birds, and more examination of the hearts of the birders and the tensions between them. Still, a fine read. On a whole different level, Yeats struggles with school reminded me of my own kids, and how one of them quit high school in grade ten to do "unschooling," which was basically reading what he wanted and playing violin. It amazes me that so many parents who have kids struggling with school insist on it anyway. One size doesn't fit all. Our son ended up making a fine transition to University and Graduate School.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Crow

    A quiet memoir about the author coming to terms with middle age and with her son growing up. The parts where they go birding together are quite nice, but the rest of it was just okay. On occasion, I felt the author came across as being extremely privileged and a bit self-congratulatory, although I'm sure she's a very nice person. I couldn't help roll my eyes a bit whenever she mentioned how they don't have a TV and only eat multi-grain bagels and have their own family island, etc. But every time A quiet memoir about the author coming to terms with middle age and with her son growing up. The parts where they go birding together are quite nice, but the rest of it was just okay. On occasion, I felt the author came across as being extremely privileged and a bit self-congratulatory, although I'm sure she's a very nice person. I couldn't help roll my eyes a bit whenever she mentioned how they don't have a TV and only eat multi-grain bagels and have their own family island, etc. But every time I was tempted to stop reading, she and Yeats would go looking at birds again, and I would find myself nodding in agreement that yes, that's exactly what it's like to experience the joy of seeing a new bird or being completely in the present moment. Also, as I've been seeking out a lot of birding memoirs lately, it was nice to read the perspective of a casual birdwatcher rather than a die-hard obsessive big year type.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simone

    A charming, heartfelt memoir about learning to love by letting go; it's full of love and learning and introspection, and the wisdom that comes with all these things. It's also about birds - I had no idea there were so much variety in my own back yard. I'm encouraged now to keep a sharper eye, both inward and outward. A charming, heartfelt memoir about learning to love by letting go; it's full of love and learning and introspection, and the wisdom that comes with all these things. It's also about birds - I had no idea there were so much variety in my own back yard. I'm encouraged now to keep a sharper eye, both inward and outward.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    I VERY MUCH ENJOYED THIS BOOK! THIS BOOK HAS EVERYTHING I ENJOY;BOOKS AND BOOKSTORES,TRAVEL,STORIES ABOUT BIRD WATCHING AND BEST OF ALL THE STORY OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MOTHER AND SON AND NATURE. I LOVED READING HOW A MOTHER AND HER SON LEARNED TO TRUST EACH OTHER AND GROW TOGETHER IN THEIR SEARCH TO ENJOY AND UNDERSTAND LIFE AND WHERE IT TAKES US.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eva Antonel

    Probably closer to 4 1/2 stars, if that was an option. It's about letting go and living and allowing others to do the same. More precisely, it's about books and bookselling, birds and bird watching, being a mother, sister, daughter and wife. It's about being and experiencing all those things at the same time and being a better person because of it. Probably closer to 4 1/2 stars, if that was an option. It's about letting go and living and allowing others to do the same. More precisely, it's about books and bookselling, birds and bird watching, being a mother, sister, daughter and wife. It's about being and experiencing all those things at the same time and being a better person because of it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I am glad I read this book, but it won't make my read again list. When diving into a memoir, the search is for genuine insights into life found through the authors life experiences and pondering of same. Sadly this book became a list of 'what we did' and then she backed away from her innermost thoughts on how the list was changing her life perspective; it left me wanting......... I am glad I read this book, but it won't make my read again list. When diving into a memoir, the search is for genuine insights into life found through the authors life experiences and pondering of same. Sadly this book became a list of 'what we did' and then she backed away from her innermost thoughts on how the list was changing her life perspective; it left me wanting.........

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    3.5 stars at best. Let us be honest, this is not a life-changing book as one reviewer led me to believe. Nor have i finished the book. I am stuck at half-way through determining which road to take... do i finish reading, in hopes the book redeems itself or go to the next book on my reading shelf? This may seem an unduly harsh review, for birding is a favorite past time of mine. And i am quite sentimental, being a mother myself. But up to this point there is little birding happening. There has be 3.5 stars at best. Let us be honest, this is not a life-changing book as one reviewer led me to believe. Nor have i finished the book. I am stuck at half-way through determining which road to take... do i finish reading, in hopes the book redeems itself or go to the next book on my reading shelf? This may seem an unduly harsh review, for birding is a favorite past time of mine. And i am quite sentimental, being a mother myself. But up to this point there is little birding happening. There has been one trip to Vancouver and it rattles on from there. Im just not sold. If i get back to the book, able to trudge along, page after page, i will return to revise my review. Especially if it starts to excite me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karin Schliesske

    Over all, I have found the book rather dry and tends to be repetitive. The bird sightings are interesting in the beginning but that quickly fades. To me, she is a typical Mother/Wife trying to keep a grip on her life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Niccolai

    I don't usually read memoirs but I liked this one. I'm not a birder but I enjoyed the descriptions of the birds and the trips. I don't usually read memoirs but I liked this one. I'm not a birder but I enjoyed the descriptions of the birds and the trips.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    I really enjoyed this book, so nice to find other people in the world that love books and birds. Also cool to hear her talk about birding in places that I'm familiar with because she's from Toronto. I really enjoyed this book, so nice to find other people in the world that love books and birds. Also cool to hear her talk about birding in places that I'm familiar with because she's from Toronto.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    Lynn Thomson relates her relationship with her son, whether good or bad, and how they are drawn together through birding, something they both draw pleasure from. Bird enthusiasts will understand the healing properties of birding in the woods revealed in these pages, but also, mothers of sons will find a connection. The difference, for most readers, is in the particular personality constraints of Yeats, Lynn and her husband, and how they interact.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Donna Wellard

    lovely, lovely book. A parenting memoir and somewhat of a parenting guide for women seeking a mutual connection with their teenager. The author found that connection with her son Yeats (yes named after the poet) through building family trips and excursions around their mutual love of birding. Jack and I fell into such a connection around music, and now take an annual trip together to see a concert (2015 was Stevie Wonder in Montreal, 2014 was Fleetwood Mac in Ottawa and 2013 was Sting in Summers lovely, lovely book. A parenting memoir and somewhat of a parenting guide for women seeking a mutual connection with their teenager. The author found that connection with her son Yeats (yes named after the poet) through building family trips and excursions around their mutual love of birding. Jack and I fell into such a connection around music, and now take an annual trip together to see a concert (2015 was Stevie Wonder in Montreal, 2014 was Fleetwood Mac in Ottawa and 2013 was Sting in Summerside, Prince Edward Island). Hopefully our tradition will continue beyond high school! The book also speaks to the wonderful surprise of finding a bit more time for self reflection and growth once the parenting starts to wind down a bit. I really, really enjoyed this lovely, lovely book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    The perfect book to read at the cottage, in your backyard, on a camping trip, or anywhere you find yourself in nature. This book is a little gem that invites you to slow down and just be present in life. It invited me back to the most peaceful and special moments I have experienced in my life, when I would watch birds with my best friend in our backyard at our feeders. It was a delight that the book actually described and named the birds, so I could learn more as a novice birdwatcher, and even m The perfect book to read at the cottage, in your backyard, on a camping trip, or anywhere you find yourself in nature. This book is a little gem that invites you to slow down and just be present in life. It invited me back to the most peaceful and special moments I have experienced in my life, when I would watch birds with my best friend in our backyard at our feeders. It was a delight that the book actually described and named the birds, so I could learn more as a novice birdwatcher, and even more so when a bird was described that I could actually say I’ve seen in Canada. So many birding books have a North American focus, and I see only a fraction of the birds where I live. So it was exciting for once to be able to recognize most of the birds that were described in the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Leuchtenburg

    The comments complaining that this book does not delve deeply into the mysteries of life are quite correct. I still enjoying it thoroughly. Most birding memoirs are written by crazed expert birders, who live for the birds. This one shows the sweet joy of discovery by an avid amateur. "We spoke very little. We raised our binoculars now and again, or drank from our water bottles. There were butterflies and frogs and crickets singing in the grass. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was perf The comments complaining that this book does not delve deeply into the mysteries of life are quite correct. I still enjoying it thoroughly. Most birding memoirs are written by crazed expert birders, who live for the birds. This one shows the sweet joy of discovery by an avid amateur. "We spoke very little. We raised our binoculars now and again, or drank from our water bottles. There were butterflies and frogs and crickets singing in the grass. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do. It was perfect." If that's your dream, this is your book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Love this book. It's a perfect memoir of a woman's life and her journey through motherhood, of holding on and letting go too. Lynn writes with a self-awareness that comes from a deep place within. And on top of all that, she brings to life the world of birding and all the natural wonders that come along with that life. This book is a treasure and, yes, full-disclosure, I can proudly call the author my friend. Love this book. It's a perfect memoir of a woman's life and her journey through motherhood, of holding on and letting go too. Lynn writes with a self-awareness that comes from a deep place within. And on top of all that, she brings to life the world of birding and all the natural wonders that come along with that life. This book is a treasure and, yes, full-disclosure, I can proudly call the author my friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Is this the most fascinating book I've ever read? No, but it is a very sweet memoir of a mother and son. With so many books showing the downside of motherhood, Thomson reveals a sweet story of her relationship w/ her unusual son. Not autistic or sick, just sensitive and interested in different things. It, also, reveals the deep need and love of nature many of us wish we had. Despite the sometimes dry prose, I really enjoyed reading this sweet and touching memoir. Is this the most fascinating book I've ever read? No, but it is a very sweet memoir of a mother and son. With so many books showing the downside of motherhood, Thomson reveals a sweet story of her relationship w/ her unusual son. Not autistic or sick, just sensitive and interested in different things. It, also, reveals the deep need and love of nature many of us wish we had. Despite the sometimes dry prose, I really enjoyed reading this sweet and touching memoir.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Coster

    This memoir got a bit repetitious at times...chronicles Thomson's birding expeditions with her sensitive and intelligent son, Yeats, from childhood to near adulthood. Yeats, wise beyond his years, teaches his mother and father a love of the outdoors that is unparalleled. I learned a lot about birders..I wasn't aware of how popular it was and how serious people are about the creatures we take for granted every day. Pick it up: a fast read! This memoir got a bit repetitious at times...chronicles Thomson's birding expeditions with her sensitive and intelligent son, Yeats, from childhood to near adulthood. Yeats, wise beyond his years, teaches his mother and father a love of the outdoors that is unparalleled. I learned a lot about birders..I wasn't aware of how popular it was and how serious people are about the creatures we take for granted every day. Pick it up: a fast read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy reading this book very much and it took me forever to finish but I wanted to se it through to the end. Even though it did peek my interest with some of the bird facts and how much being in nature is good for our well being, I found the book mostly boring and repetitive. Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy reading this book very much and it took me forever to finish but I wanted to se it through to the end. Even though it did peek my interest with some of the bird facts and how much being in nature is good for our well being, I found the book mostly boring and repetitive.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I enjoyed this one, not so much because it was particularly well written (it wasn't terrible but was largely a list of birds), but because i like birding. I have memories of it as a kid with my mom, though i still have only seen mostly common species. And i enjoyed the movie The Big Year that came out a few years ago. I enjoyed this one, not so much because it was particularly well written (it wasn't terrible but was largely a list of birds), but because i like birding. I have memories of it as a kid with my mom, though i still have only seen mostly common species. And i enjoyed the movie The Big Year that came out a few years ago.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Potter

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Two dramatic events take place in this book. The rest is literally the memoir of an overprotective hippie mom birdwatching with her rather awkward son. I kept reading because I was sure something big was bound to happen. It didn't. Two dramatic events take place in this book. The rest is literally the memoir of an overprotective hippie mom birdwatching with her rather awkward son. I kept reading because I was sure something big was bound to happen. It didn't.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Given To Me For An Honest Review This book is about a mother and her son. He is a very sensitive young boy. It talks about watching him grow and then letting go. It is a very good memoir about love and living with patience and understanding. I enjoyed reading it. I recommend it to all.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Djdee

    Really enjoyed this book. Was an enjoyable read. Found the birding interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Germaine

    Didn't like it Didn't like it

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    I absolutely looked this book and traveled to some of the places mentioned. Highly recommended - a good to support a local author!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I enjoyed this book from a Toronto author. I have birded most of the places Lynn and Yeats went to. Galapagos, Tofino, around Toronto, Wye Marsh, summers at camp in Muskoka.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ampersand Inc.

    Wonderful sweet an authentic book about parenting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    A quiet memoir mostly about birding and being a parent. No earth shattering revelations, but experiences lived genuinely. I enjoyed it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Jones

    This was given to me as a gift, so not my typical read, but I enjoyed it as the settings of the city and cottage were where I grew up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hina Mahindru

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