How does a natural history book about an everyday bird become so popular that it lands a spot on the Pacific Northwest Independent Bestseller List?
Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness (Little, Brown, 2009) is charming Northwest booksellers and readers, inspiring us to become urban naturalists and to pay closer attention to those ubiquitous black birds cawing on the telephone wires outside our houses. “I adore the book,” says Cheryl McKeon, Seattle’s Third Place Books’ Book Club Coordinator. McKeon sits on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award Committee, which recognized Crow Planet as one of ten books on its 2010 Book Awards Short List. She calls it an “accessible, decidedly un-pedantic urban wildlife tribute.”
Author Lyanda Lynn Haupt lives in West Seattle. She drew a nice crowd of 120 at a Third Place event last August. McKeon says sales of the book have continued respectably, “a real testimony to its popularity and resilience.”
NWBL also loved the book and its beautiful illustrations by Duvall, Washington printmaker Daniel Cautrell. We’re proud to now know dozens of crow facts, which we’ve been reciting to anyone who will listen.
Crow Planet is not just a nature book but also a human story about Haupt’s awakening from a depressive funk and her immersion into crow world and, really, her own world. Haupt’s dedication to and passion for observing nature in her daily urban life is contagious. You can’t read her words and not become more alive to the natural world around you.
Haupt has created and directed educational programs for Seattle Audubon and worked in raptor rehabilitation. She’s the author of Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent and Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, and her writing has also appeared in Open Spaces, Wild Earth and Conservation Biology Journal.
Check out Haupt’s blog and this ten-minute film of a talk she gave at REI in Seattle explaining how she came to write about crows. Cautrell has also made some interesting videos, showing how he makes his prints.