“Christian Cooper’s book is every bit as wondrous and captivating as the birds he so adores… a masterful account of a life full of song, full of heart, and fully lived.”
ED YONG, author of An Immense World
Central Park birder Christian Cooper takes us beyond the viral video that shocked a nation and into a world of avian adventures, global excursions, and the unexpected lessons you can learn from a life spent looking up.
Christian Cooper is a self-described “Blerd” (Black nerd), an avid comics fan, and expert birder who devotes every spring to gazing upon the migratory birds that stop in Central Park. While in the park one morning in May 2020, Cooper was engaged in his birdwatching ritual when what might have been a routine encounter with a dog walker exploded age-old racial tensions. Cooper’s viral video of the incident sent shock waves through the nation.
In Better Living Through Birding, Cooper tells the story of his extraordinary life leading up to the now-infamous incident in Central Park and shows how birding prepared him to be a gay, Black man in America 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 introducing the first gay storylines at Marvel Comics to life-changing birding expeditions around the world. Better Living Through Birding recounts Cooper’s journey through the wonderful world of birds and what they can teach us about life, if only we would look and listen.
Christian Cooper is a science and comics writer and editor and the host and consulting producer of Extraordinary Birder on National Geographic. One of Marvel’s first openly gay writers and editors, Cooper introduced the first gay male character in Star Trek, in the Starfleet Academy series, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. He also introduced the first openly lesbian character for Marvel and created and authored Queer Nation: The Online Gay Comic. Based in New York City, he is on the board of directors for NYC Audubon.
“In addressing the Central Park incident, [Cooper] elegantly frames it within both his own bird-focused narrative and a broader conversation about racism and police brutality… This rewarding memoir adds heft and heart to the headlines.”