Book of the Month Club: Odd Birds by Ian Harding

In retrospect, I now realize that the look of Mr. Hawkins’s face was one of deliberation: Do I flee from this screaming child or try to somehow eat him?

Memoirs about the hobby of birding seem to be rare these days, that is, if they were ever a thing at all. Ian Harding’s memoir brought back an early childhood fascination of mine with all things birds, though actual appearances of birds within the memoir may vary.

Perhaps for some readers it would be Harding’s memories of filming the show “Pretty Little Liars” that will be of interest, though for some people who a re unfamiliar with the show, the people and characters that he immediately assumes people will know about are unfamiliar. I happen to be outside the intended demographic of the show, though a quick Internet search seems to show that his assessment of the character that he plays is accurate. For the teenage audience, Harding’s book offers interesting insights about growing up. The snapshots of his family life, from early childhood memories to contemporary happenings, are candid and relatable. Most segments have a reference back to Harding’s hobby and the different types of birds he has seen, and the birds imagery that he connects within each vignette of his story ties everything together neatly. Look out for some very humorous memories about acting school.

The memoir does have its limitations, mostly due to the fact that the television series is Harding’s longest and most famous role to date and that as an actor who will undoubtedly have further experiences, the book seems to fall a bit short in terms of self-reflection. The book is a charming snapshot of what has been happening in his life so far. His writing has a friendly tone to it, as if he is talking to a well-known friend, and his brand of humour will draw a reader in quickly. At less than 300 pages, the book is worth a read, though fans of “Pretty Little Liars” might have a more enjoyable experience reading it rather than a person looking into insights about birdwatching.

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