Penguin Michael Joseph has pre-empted a book from author and journalist Charlie Corbett, exploring mental health through the lens of 12 songbirds.
Slated for hardback publication on 10th June 2021, 12 Birds to Save Your Life: Nature's Lessons on Happiness is billed as "a profound exploration of grief, life and of being human", drawing on the author's own struggles with grief and depression. World rights were bought by PMJ’s non-fiction publisher Charlotte Hardman from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown.
Corbett, who most recently set up his own communications consultancy, Bullfinch Media, previously pursued a 20-year career in financial journalism. However he remains, at heart, "a country boy", according to PMJ, hailing from a family of livestock and arable farmers with his childhood divided between farms on the downs of Hampshire and the Isle of Mull.
In the book, Corbett writes about the comfort that a simple decision to reconnect with the natural world brought. "When Charlie first started to learn about songbirds, from solitary skylarks to squabbling sparrows, he realised that these characterful creatures have much to teach us about life, happiness and acceptance," reads the book's description.
Hardman said she fell in love with the book as soon as she read the proposal. "When life was unexpectedly put on hold earlier this year and lockdown kicked in, one of the few pleasures to be found from the quietness was our engagement with nature. Suddenly birdsong seemed to come to the fore," she said. "In Charlie’s beautiful book he celebrates birds and their place in the natural world whilst weaving throughout a thread of his own personal story of overcoming grief. As he talks of the ebb and flow of the seasons and his own story of adapting to the sudden loss of his mother, Charlie inspires us to go outside, pause and listen."
Corbett said: "I wanted to write a book about birds that had genuine meaning for people. To move away from the abstract science of the guidebooks and embed birds, and other wildlife, into the context of people’s real lives. Reconnecting with the birds around me didn’t just help me to cope with a personal tragedy, it still helps me every day. By moving more with the rhythms of the natural world around me, I become grounded. I gain perspective. These 12 birds taught me there was a whole dimension to my life that I had ignored for too long. We all have. And by re-establishing this severed connection with our natural environment, my book will show how people can become better able to deal with the stress, uncertainty and anxiety that comes with modern living."
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