The Comfort of Crows


In The Comfort of Crows, Margaret Renkl presents a literary devotional: fifty-two chapters that follow the creatures and plants in her backyard over the course of a year.

As we move through the seasons—from a crow spied on New Year’s Day, its resourcefulness and sense of community setting a theme for the year, to the lingering bluebirds of December, revisiting the nest box they used in spring—what develops is a portrait of joy and grief: joy in the ongoing pleasures of the natural world, and grief over winters that end too soon and songbirds that grow fewer and fewer. Along the way, we also glimpse the changing rhythms of a human life. Grown children, unexpectedly home during the pandemic, prepare to depart once more. Birdsong and night-blooming flowers evoke generations past. The city and the country where Renkl raised her family transform a little more with each passing day. And the natural world, now in visible flux, requires every ounce of hope and commitment from the author—and from us. For, as Renkl writes, “radiant things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world.” With fifty-two original color artworks by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, The Comfort of Crows is a lovely and deeply moving book from a cherished observer of the natural world. "The Comfort of Crows is a howling love letter to the world, the story of what we've lost and what we can save and the abundance of wonder in our own backyard. Margaret Renkl is a singular, spectacular writer, and this book, like life itself, is a cause for celebration." --Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House "Reading Margaret Renkl always connects me more deeply to the natural world and to my own heart. The Comfort of Crows is an elegy, a provocation, and above all a love letter to the magnificence that still surrounds us, if only we are awake enough to look. I want to press it into the hands of everyone I know." --Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance "Margaret Renkl has the mind of a naturalist and the soul of a poet. Let this magnificent devotional be your eye-opening, heart-expanding daily companion, and it will change how you see the world."--Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter "This is a lovely prayer book centered on plants and animals, an important reminder of grace and of the necessity of placing public green spaces in reach of everyone."--Catherine Raven, author of Fox & I "Luminous . . . Elegant, lucid essays follow the changing seasons, Renkl musing on the migratory and nesting patterns of birds, the encroaching effects of climate change, her own evolving family structure, and the incremental shifts of flora, fauna, and light. . . . The Comfort of Crows celebrates the beauty and durability of nature's age-old cycles and the habits of wild creatures, and it urges human beings to care for these same creatures--before some of them disappear altogether."--Shelf Awareness "Renkl invites readers along on a year of loving outdoor observations in this gently moving memoir. . . . This gorgeous reflection on humanity's symbiotic relationship with the outdoors will transform the way readers interact with their own backyards."--Publishers Weekly "This triumph of a book gives us a charming and wise friend to guide us over the course of a year, but I am certain Margaret Renkl's enchanting voice will echo for lifetimes to come. The Comfort of Crows is an instant classic, not just for the planet, but--and most importantly--for our hearts too."--Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders "Insightful . . . Among the touching and relatable moments that nature lovers will appreciate are Renkl's memories of catching tadpoles in spring with her brother as a child in Alabama, the sound of summer thunderstorms and cicadas, and the unparalleled beauty of autumn light, 'the loveliest light there is'. . . . A welcome escape from the hectic world."--Kirkus "Sprinkled liberally throughout are 'praise songs' . . . These little extras, just like the epigrams at the beginning of each essay, pack an extra punch into this tidy volume. . . . Readers can return to these pages often, through the seasons of their own lives."--Booklist