14 books like Cuckoo

By Nick Davies,

Here are 14 books that Cuckoo fans have personally recommended if you like Cuckoo. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

Perhaps more than any other group of animals, the 20,000 (or more) known bee species make the case that much of evolution is about the diversification of ways in which species interact with each other species and form coevolutionary alliances. In this book, scientist/naturalist Thor Hanson gives us a whirlwind tour of that diversity, showing us that honeybees are just the tip of the iceberg of the many relationships between bees and plants. As with the other authors on this list, Hanson is a reliable guide with a passion and wonder for whatever he chooses to study and write about, using clear, accessible, and enjoyable prose. 

By Thor Hanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buzz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

'Popular science at its most accessible: fun, fascinating and full of engaging pen portraits of the scientists and bee enthusiasts he meets in the course of his research' Melissa Harrison, Guardian

'A smooth and accessible account of the insects that provide a significant amount of what we eat, introducing their fascinating diversity of behaviour. A reminder of why bees are wonders that we must protect.' Matt Shardlow, BBC Wildlife

Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part,
unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships…


Book cover of Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words

Tim Birkhead Author Of Birds and Us: A 12,000 Year History, from Cave Art to Conservation

From my list on birds and ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to be able to turn my childhood birdwatching into a career in ornithology. Scientists are sometimes accused of being cold and heartless, but most of the ornithologists I know are driven by a passion to protect and understand birds. At school, I only really liked biology and art. I hated history, but later in life I discovered the vast riches embedded in the history of ornithology and I am fascinated by how we know what we know about birds. This in turn has sparked ideas that have allowed me to discover and explore new areas of bird study. Above all, I love telling people about birds.

Tim's book list on birds and ourselves

Tim Birkhead Why did Tim love this book?

The history of ornithology is an extraordinarily rich topic and one full of interest and rewards. This book is a celebration of the beginnings of our ornithological knowledge. A classics scholar and ornithologist, Jeremy Mynott has translated all the numerous texts here himself, and in so doing providing a consistent, knowledgeable, highly readable text. One of the things that comes across so vividly in this book is how much of our knowledge about birds — including, for example, the fact that young birds, like the nightingale, acquire their song by listening to their father — were so well established so long ago! 

By Jeremy Mynott, Jeremy Mynott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Birds in the Ancient World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Birds pervaded the ancient world. They impressed their physical presence on the daily experience and imaginations of ordinary people in town and country alike, and figured prominently in literature and art. They also provided a fertile source of symbols and stories in their myths and folklore, and were central to the ancient rituals of augury and divination. Jeremy Mynott's Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words brings together all this rich and
fascinating material for the modern reader.

Using quotations from well over a hundred classical Greek and Roman authors, all of them translated freshly into English, and nearly a…


Book cover of The Seabird's Cry: The Lives and Loves of the Planet's Great Ocean Voyagers

Julian Caldecott Author Of Water: Life in Every Drop

From my list on building peace with nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started off studying tropical rainforest creatures and saw the catastrophic impacts of modern humanity on nature and indigenous peoples. My work then focused on how to resolve conflicts between people and nature, at first in and around national parks and then more widely. I became quite good at dissecting environmental aid portfolios, and writing up what I had found in a series of books. I was also drawn into the great climate protests of 2019 and 2020, and now I'm working on pulling it all together into a book on Restoring Peace with Nature.

Julian's book list on building peace with nature

Julian Caldecott Why did Julian love this book?

This book hurled me into a compassionate and respectful understanding of puffins, gannets, fulmars, cormorants, and other seabirds, and their varied and extraordinary relationships with the world ocean and its winds and sea cliffs. It left me aware of huge gaps in my perception of these different worlds, of the otherness and perfection of seabirds, and of my own species' abuse of such wonders. It re-set my standard for beautiful writing, and for appreciating the feeling of standing against a gale above the sea while surrounded by creatures who are truly at home there.

By Adam Nicolson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Seabird's Cry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enter ancient lands of wind and waves where the planet’s greatest flyers battle for survival.

As the only creatures at home on land, at sea, and in the air, seabirds have evolved to thrive in the most demanding environment on Earth.

In The Seabird’s Cry, Adam Nicolson travels ocean paths, fusing traditional knowledge with astonishing facts science has recently learned about these creatures: the way their bodies actually work, their dazzling navigational skills, their ability to smell their way to fish or home and to understand the discipline of the winds upon which they depend.

This book is a paean…


Book cover of Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World

Eden Collinsworth Author Of What the Ermine Saw: The Extraordinary Journey of Leonardo Da Vinci's Most Mysterious Portrait

From my list on with a work of art as the narrator.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not entirely sure how to describe myself other than as a committed writer and a devoted reader. Mine has been a fairly unconventional career. It has moved me from one spot on the globe to another and has placed me on both ends of the publishing equation—first, as a book publisher, and, next, as the author of a variety of books. I’m certain of a single shared fact: that no matter whether fiction or non-fiction, regardless of the subject, a story always rests on the success of engaging the reader.

Eden's book list on with a work of art as the narrator

Eden Collinsworth Why did Eden love this book?

How to begin? In 1520, Albrecht Dürer, the most celebrated artist in Northern Europe, sailed to Zeeland to see a beached whale with the intention of drawing its likeness. But this fact is only the starting-off point for a memorably vivid journey that straddles countless subjects. Each chapter is anchored in a particular image by Dürer. There is a seamlessness to Hoare’s prose in this book and I marveled at his gifts of insight and observation.

By Philip Hoare,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Albert and the Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN OBSERVER BEST ART BOOK OF 2021
SHORTLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2022

'This is a wonderful book. A lyrical journey into the natural and unnatural world' Patti Smith

'Everything Philip Hoare writes is bewitching' Olivia Laing

An illuminating exploration of the intersection between life, art and the sea from the award-winning author of Leviathan.

Albrecht Durer changed the way we saw nature through art. From his prints in 1498 of the plague ridden Apocalypse - the first works mass produced by any artist - to his hyper-real images of animals and…


Book cover of The End of the End of the Earth: Essays

Tim Birkhead Author Of Birds and Us: A 12,000 Year History, from Cave Art to Conservation

From my list on birds and ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to be able to turn my childhood birdwatching into a career in ornithology. Scientists are sometimes accused of being cold and heartless, but most of the ornithologists I know are driven by a passion to protect and understand birds. At school, I only really liked biology and art. I hated history, but later in life I discovered the vast riches embedded in the history of ornithology and I am fascinated by how we know what we know about birds. This in turn has sparked ideas that have allowed me to discover and explore new areas of bird study. Above all, I love telling people about birds.

Tim's book list on birds and ourselves

Tim Birkhead Why did Tim love this book?

Compared with many of those writing about bird conservation, using his sabre-like pen, Jonathan Franzen, gets to the very heart of the issues. No one else comes close to opening up the obscene bloody thorax of Mediterranean bird-killing. In this set of essays, Franzen is the master surgeon, desperate to diagnose, expose and extract the cancer that permeates this entire region. Several million small migrant birds, such as golden orioles, bee-eaters, and warblers, are shot, trapped, and eaten here each year. These millions are from bird populations across Europe and Africa already decimated by a multitude of other things including climate change, cats, and habitat loss.

By Jonathan Franzen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of the End of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sharp and provocative new essay collection from the award-winning author of Freedom and The Corrections

In The End of the End of the Earth, which gathers essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, Jonathan Franzen returns with renewed vigour to the themes - both human and literary - that have long preoccupied him. Whether exploring his complex relationship with his uncle, recounting his young adulthood in New York, or offering an illuminating look at the global seabird crisis, these pieces contain all the wit and disabused realism that we've come to expect from Franzen.

Taken together,…


Book cover of A Planet of Viruses

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

Parasitism of other species is probably the most common way of life on earth. It is not uncommon for a species to have tens to hundreds of parasites that exploit it. Viruses have fine-tuned the parasitic lifestyle to the extreme, attacking just about all other forms of life and fueling the evolution of counter-defenses in their hosts. Viruses co-opt the genetic machinery of their hosts for just about everything they need to replicate themselves. Carl Zimmer’s book is not only the best introduction I know to the remarkable diversity of viruses, it also is written with the crystal clear, elegant prose and solid scientific grounding that are the hallmarks of all his writing. 

By Carl Zimmer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Planet of Viruses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2020, an invisible germ-a virus-wholly upended our lives. We're most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or Covid-19. But viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.

Fully revised and updated, with new…


Book cover of A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

It is almost impossible to choose just one of Bernd Heinrich’s many eye-opening books on the natural world. These beautifully written essays on “the inconnectedness of all of life” explore how species solve the problems of surviving and reproducing in a world packed with millions of other species. These stories, gleaned from his detailed observations and experiments in nature, relate how species depend on, defend, and manipulate each other. The battles and manipulations among species he describes are the raw material for relentless coevolution. Heinrich infuses his observations in the Maine woods with wonderfully original insights, grounded in a clear-thinking understanding of current ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral science. 

By Bernd Heinrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Naturalist at Large as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In essays that span several decades, Heinrich finds himself at home in his beloved camp in Maine, where he plays host to annoying visitors from Europe (the cluster flies) and more helpful guests from Asia (ladybugs); and as far away as Botswana, where he unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of elephants' bruising treatment of mopane trees. Heinrich turns to his great love, the extraordinary behaviors of ravens, some of them close companions for years. Finally, he asks "Where does a biologist find hope?" while delivering an answer that informs and inspires.


Book cover of Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

Plants and insects make up most of the species on earth, and they have spent millions of years interacting and coevolving with each other. In this book, Anurag Agrawal weaves together what scientists have learned about one of the most charismatic of these interactions, those between milkweeds and monarch butterflies. He explores why the evolution of these interactions never ceases, but he also shows us just how difficult it can be to sort out how particular species coevolve. The book is a window into why the interactions between plants and insects may be the most diverse interactions that have ever evolved between complex organisms. Agrawal is a leading researcher on the evolution of interactions between plants and insects, and, fortunately, he is also an absorbing writer. 

By Anurag Agrawal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monarchs and Milkweed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fascinating and complex evolutionary relationship of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant Monarch butterflies are one of nature's most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico. Yet there is much more to the monarch than its distinctive presence and mythic journeying. In Monarchs and Milkweed, Anurag Agrawal presents a vivid investigation into how the monarch butterfly has evolved closely alongside the milkweed--a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance emitted when its leaves are damaged--and how this inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an…


Book cover of Cuckoo in the Nest

Ruth Leigh Author Of The Diary of Isabella M Smugge

From my list on books you read and re-read even though you know every word by heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned to read at four and have been telling stories ever since. Books were my escape from unhappiness into a new and endless world. Left to myself, I’d read ten or so weekly, and my mind was packed with characters, dialogue, jokes, prose, and poetry like an over-brimming literary reservoir. Words are my thing, and I am an avid collector of them. I was reading David Copperfield at eight and specialised in 18th and 19th-century literature at university. I’ve written five books and am working on the sixth. I love writing humour but have also authored Jane Austen Fan Fiction and poetry. Without books, my world is nothing.

Ruth's book list on books you read and re-read even though you know every word by heart

Ruth Leigh Why did Ruth love this book?

I simply loved this book. It took me straight back to the long, hot summer of 1976 and to the confusing feelings around being a teenager. The smell of phone boxes, flares, awful hair – it was all there.

The main character, a 14-year-old would-be poet, has lost her mother and is living with her alcoholic father. She’s an attractive and engaging character, and when she was fostered by a local family, I assumed her life would get better. Not the case. The teenage daughter loathes her, and there are more secrets in this respectable family than in her own.

Funny, poignant, sad, and I hated to say goodbye to the characters. A fabulous read.

By Fran Hill,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Cuckoo in the Nest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fresh, authentic and darkly funny. It's a beautifully told story full of warmth and emotion without ever being sentimental - I absolutely loved it' Ruth Hogan, bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things

It’s the heatwave summer of 1976 and 14-year-old would be poet Jackie Chadwick is newly fostered by the Walls. She desperately needs stability, but their insecure, jealous teenage daughter isn't happy about the cuckoo in the nest and sets about ousting her.

When her attempts to do so lead to near-tragedy – and the Walls’ veneer of middle-class respectability begins to crumble – everyone in the…


Book cover of Extinct Birds

Simon J. Knell Author Of The Great Fossil Enigma: The Search for the Conodont Animal

From my list on extinct animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about those people (geologists, art historians, historians, and curators), places (museums, universities, and societies), and things (fossils, paintings, and historical artifacts) that shape our understanding of the world. I am not so much interested in the history of ideas as in the very nature of art, geology, history, and the museum. And like my recommended authors, the approach I take to my subjects is, I hope, always rather novel. In The Great Fossil Enigma, for example, I felt that the tiny, suggestive, but ultimately ambiguous, nature of the fossils permitted me to see into the scientific mind. This tends to be where extinct animals live after their demise. 

Simon's book list on extinct animals

Simon J. Knell Why did Simon love this book?

In 2000, Errol Fuller published an entirely new, lavishly illustrated, edition of his 1987 book, Extinct Birds. In the years since it was first published more birds had been lost while others he had described as extinct had subsequently been rediscovered. Extinct Birds documents 85 species that have disappeared since 1600, including the Eskimo Curlew and Choiseul Crested Pigeon, as well as the more famous Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, and Dodo. All are now dead and gone (probably!). A book of fascinating, if ultimately sad, tales, and beautiful pictures, it should encourage us to care about those species now on the edge of extinction like the Kakapo, the Kiwi, and the massively poached African Grey Parrot.

By Errol Fuller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Extinct Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shows and describes what is known about extinct species of waterfowl, rails, gulls, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, owls, and perching birds


5 book lists we think you will like!

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