Posts Tagged ‘Richard Smyth’

Hello and happy Friday!  And seeing as it’s Friday, that means its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing, this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I am honoured to share the fantastic “Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing” by Richard Smyth.



Birdsong is woven into our culture, our emotions, our landscape; it is the soundtrack to our world. We have tried to capture this fleeting, ephemeral beauty, and the feelings it inspires, for millennia.

In this fascinating account, Richard Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love. Exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music, science and our very ideas of what it means to be British, Smyth’s nuanced investigation shows that what we hear says as much about us, our dreams and desires, as it does about the birds and their songs.

At a time when our birdsong is growing quieter, with fewer voices, more thinly spread, A Sweet, Wild Note is a celebration of the complex relationships between birds, people and the land; it is also a passionate call to arms lest our trees and hedgerows fall silent.


My Thoughts & Review:

The very first thing that grabbed me about this book, and indeed with any of Elliott and Thompson’s publications is the exquisite cover design.  This is a beautifully eye catching cover that really sparks the imagination of the reader and gives an insight into the wonders that are housed inside.

Living in a rural setting I am often surprised by the different bird sounds that I hear, many I’ve come recognise over the years but I am not a birdwatcher or birder, I can no more tell you a chaffinch from a blackbird.  However, I find the sound of bird song soothing and will admit that I have sometimes wondered just what they are communicating to other birds in the vicinity, whether they are merely singing because the sun in shining etc.

Richard Smyth takes the reader on an investigation through both literary and musical culture, quoting numerous sources to try and explain the answers to a multitude of questions surrounding bird song.  Discussing the works of some of the great poets and their descriptions of bird song, as well as looking at how musicians try to imitate the sounds using instruments and how the sound is being included in music.   This coupled with the lovely introduction primed with humour and warmth where Symth explains the reasons for writing this book.

Through his book, Smyth reminds the reader that birdsong should be appreciated for what it is and is keen to point out the experience of it “the way a bright bird song on a lonely street can lift our mood, or leaven our loneliness, or bring a little bit of countryside into the brick canyons and concrete precincts of the N5.”  And he is right, sometimes hearing the tweeting/cheeping/warble of a bird can lift your mood,

The writing is fantastic, each chapter gives great insight as well as provides entertainment and where relevant sources quoted to allow readers to go off and explore further.  There is also a helpful “further reading” section at the back of the book where Smyth gives a brief explanation of the resources linked to the separate chapters of the book.

For me, “Celebrating Indie Publishing” is about discovering new things; new books, new authors, new information and I can happily say that this book has done that.  Whilst I may not be about to head out birdwatching or learn the difference between a pigeon and a sparrow, I appreciate the sounds of birds more after reading this book.  I certainly look out for the familiar chirps, cheeps and songs whilst I am out and am more aware that they are there.

You can buy a copy of A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing via:

The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.

About the Author:

Richard Smyth writes about nature, history, books, philosophy, art, sport and anything else that occurs to him. His latest book, ‘A Sweet Wild Note: What We Hear When The Birds Sing’, is an acclaimed cultural history of birdsong.

Richard’s first book, ‘Bum Fodder: An Illustrated History Of Toilet Paper’, was featured on BBC Radio 4 and on national radio in Ireland and Australia; his books on English history have been decribed as “Horrible Histories for grown-ups”.

His first novel, ‘Wild Ink’, was published in 2014, and his prize-winning short stories have appeared in magazines including Structo, The Lonely Crowd, The Fiction Desk, The Stockholm Review, Riptide, Litro, The Stinging Fly, Vintage Script and Firewords Quarterly.

When he is not writing books, he works as a journalist, compiles crosswords, draws cartoons, wastes time on Twitter, and sets questions for the iconic BBC quiz show ‘Mastermind’ (he was a finalist on the show in 2009).


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

Read Full Post »


Writing for Kids

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea


A friendly space for all horror, mystery & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Berit Talks Books

“I'm just a girl, standing in front of a book hoping I will love it.”

Yvonne - Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Blogger-Book Blogger–Book Reviews of Bestsellers & Indie Authors

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual


Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things bookish...