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The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl


Rating: 5/5

What It’s About:

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.”


Thank you to Spiegel & Grau and Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book releases on October 23, 2023.

The Review

I’ve been feeling naturalist vibes alot lately. I’m finding that memoir style books about nature and animals are something that I really enjoy. The Comfort of Crows was insightful book in a few different ways. Renkl’s knowledge and descriptions of the plants and animals were enchanting. Living in the desert in Texas, this book gave me a window to experience a whole different region.

My absolute favorite part of The Comfort of Crows was the way Renkl’s yard and garden support so many different species of plants and animals. I’ve read about pollinator gardens, but this book took my knowledge to a whole other level. She made connections between different parts of the ecosystem in her garden and how certain plants supported insects and animals. It encouraged me consider how I can create habitats or provide sources of food in my own yard.

I also enjoyed how Renkl took elements and events occurring in her garden as a lens to consider her own life events. There were meditations on memories of the past, changes occurring in the present, and contemplation on what’s in store for her future. The cyclical nature of this book reflects how human life also follows a cycle. I appreciated the moments of introspection throughout the book.

If you enjoy quiet and thoughtful books about plants and animals, you will enjoy this book. I’ve also shared some other book reviews below that give a similar feeling when reading.

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Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought!

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