How to decide what to read? My routine is to first browse the faced-out books on the library shelf near the front entrance. Then I wander to my favorite areas and almost always come home with some old friends and a few newbies. For the latter the information on the cover matters. So, when I found Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie, I was drawn in by praise on the front cover from Elton John and Neil Gaiman. Star power! Charlie Gilmour is the author, and his book held my attention and demonstrated how a well-written memoir can surprise me.
Gilmour has written a courageous and beautiful book about his struggle to accept the truth about his biological father and his own “parenting” of a baby magpie. What could have been sour or sentimental is not. In fact, the pacing and revelations read like a well-built novel. I knew early on that I was in good company, given Gilmour’s praise of Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, an equally deep and well told personal story. Gilmour will be on my radar from now on.