The End of the End of the Earth, by Jonathan Franzen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Franzen's great loves are literature and birds, and The End of the End of the Earth is a passionate argument for both. Where the new media tend to confirm one's prejudices, he writes, literature "invites you to ask whether you might be somewhat wrong, maybe even entirely wrong, and to imagine why someone else might hate you." Whatever his subject, Franzen's essays are always skeptical of received opinion, steeped in irony, and frank about his own failings. He's frank about birds, too (they kill "everything imaginable"), but his reporting and reflections on them--on seabirds in New Zealand, warblers in East Africa, penguins in Antarctica--are both a moving celebration of their beauty and resilience and a call to action to save what we love.