Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C. Slaght

Check out if you like wilderness travelogues or quirky observations of both humans and animals.

I have been struggling to find a truly enjoyable nonfiction read lately. I’ve tried titles such as Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper (too wordy and meandering for me personally) and Bad Medicine by Charlotte Bismuth (I quit after she started explaining her divorce). Both of these are solid books in their own right, with topics I found interesting, but they ended up not being my “cup of tea” for one reason or another.

Then I picked up this one. It’s been on my radar for awhile now, being one that I ordered as well as saw on NPR and then again on NPR’s Best Books from 2020 list. So I decided to give it a whirl.

I ate this book up.

I loved his writing. He balances giving the facts of the story with just enough humorous insight to keep me happily reading along for hours. Even though it follows Slaght’s owl research in remote eastern Russia, this is not just a book about owls. You get to meet and observe the quirky bird, sure, but you also get to travel around middle-of-nowhere Russia, brave the cold and ice, escape some nerve wracking situations, and meet some interesting — and I mean sleeping in pyramids, collecting deer genitalia, convinced of secret civilizations living 12 meters underground interesting — human characters along the way. This is rare species research, wilderness adventure, people watching satisfaction, and entertainment.

If you have enjoyed any of my other picks, or are looking for something a bit different, or even if you just want something to make you appreciate the comforts of home, then this book is for you.

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