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BETTER LIVING THROUGH BIRDING: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World
by Christian Cooper

BETTER LIVING THROUGH BIRDING: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World  by Christian Cooper

Random House will publish in hardcover on May 9, 2023 with an announced first printing of 75,000 copies (5 ½ x 8 ¼; 288 pages).

We all first heard of Christian Cooper as the Black, Central-Park birder whose video of a white woman threatening to call the police on him went viral and became international news. But, of course, he is so much more than that moment, although the reason he was in the park and the way he handled himself that day speaks volumes about who he is and everything that got him there and has come after.

Cooper is first and foremost a life-long birder and that started when as a boy he first identified a red-winged blackbird. This is very much a book about identity. Cooper is a self-described Blerd—a gay, Black, birding, comics-loving nerd—exulting in the pleasures of a life lived in pursuit of the natural world amid the stark realities of a life lived as a Black man in today.

Equal parts memoir, travelogue, and primer on the art of birding, this is Cooper’s story of learning to claim and defend space for himself and others like him, from his days as a writer for Marvel Comics, where Cooper introduced the first gay storyline, to vivid and life-changing birding expeditions through Africa, Australia, the Americas and the Himalayas.

And everywhere Christian Cooper goes, it’s back to the birds. There’s the moment Cooper realizes that the sharpened senses of birding correlate to the ways Black men assess the threat landscape around them. Or during a transformative summer romance in Argentina an encounter with a Common Grackle forces him to reconsider the beauty to be found in ordinary places (Chapter 4: “Halcyon Days”). When a high-stakes spiritual quest to the Himalayas goes awry, Cooper learns the radical power of letting go, and the value of birding--even when there are no birds in sight (Chapter 9 “On Top of the World”). On a trip with his father, Cooper draws parallels between their own often-stormy relationship and the protective instincts of Emperor Penguins (Chapter 11: “Family Matters”)

And it’s all summed up in his 7 Pleasures of Birding, which are spread throughout the book and a summary of the 7 Pleasures are attached.

Cooper has been tapped by the National Geographic Channel to host a new show called Extraordinary Birder, which is taking him to locations around the world. The show will debut in Spring of ’23.