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Simon Barnes - Author

About the Author

Simon Barnes, the well-loved and frequently controversial columnist for the RSPB's Birds magazine, is the author of a dozen books, including three on wildlife and three novels. He is also the award-winning chief sportswriter for the Times. He lives in Suffolk with his family and has seen a barn owl, kingfisher and marsh harrier in his garden.

Featured books by Simon Barnes

Other books by Simon Barnes

Rewild Yourself 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible

Rewild Yourself 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/11/2018

We're not just losing the wild world. We're forgetting it. We're no longer noticing it. We've lost the habit of looking and seeing and listening and hearing. But we can make hidden things visible, and this book features 23 spellbinding ways to bring the magic of nature much closer to home. Mammals you never knew existed will enter your world. Birds hidden in treetops will shed their cloak of anonymity. With a single movement of your hand you can make reptiles appear before you. Butterflies you never saw before will bring joy to every sunny day. Creatures of the darkness will enter your consciousness. And as you take on new techniques and a little new equipment, you will discover new creatures and, with them, new areas of yourself that had gone dormant. Once put to use, they wake up and start working again. You become wilder in your mind and in your heart. Once you know the tricks, the wild world begins to appear before you. For anyone who wants to get closer to the nature all around them and bring it back into focus, this is the perfect read.

Epic A 30-Year Search for the Soul of Sport

Epic A 30-Year Search for the Soul of Sport

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/07/2018

'This may conceivably be Barnes's best work yet' Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail `For 30 years I was the voice of sport at The Times - but that's enough about me. What matters is sport.' This is an autobiography from which the author, award-winning writer Simon Barnes, has been surgically removed. He has reported on six World Cups, seven Olympic Games, cricket on five continents and more than 20 Wimbledons, watching Diego Maradona, Usain Bolt, Sachin Tendulkar and Roger Federer at their peak. Along the way he had soul-revealing conversations with Ayrton Senna and sat on Desert Orchid. His journalist's experience gives him perspective, until the addictive madness of sport takes over. Epic is a stunning mosaic of some of the greatest sporting moments in recent years, which build up to provide the reader with a better idea of what sport is for, what differentiates winners from losers, and reveals how sport teaches us how better to enjoy life. This is sport unplugged. Speaking for itself. Allowing the reader to understand sport with more clarity and depth than ever before.

The Meaning of Birds

The Meaning of Birds

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2018

One of our most eloquent nature writers offers a passionate and informative celebration of birds and their ability to help us understand the world we live in. As well as exploring how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year and what their presence tells us about the places they inhabit, The Meaning of Birds muses on the uses of feathers, the drama of raptors, the slaughter of pheasants, the infidelities of geese, and the strangeness of feeling sentimental about blue tits while enjoying a chicken sandwich. From the mocking-birds of the Galapagos who guided Charles Darwin toward his evolutionary theory, to the changing patterns of migration that alert us to the reality of contemporary climate change, Simon Barnes explores both the intrinsic wonder of what it is to be a bird - and the myriad ways in which birds can help us understand the meaning of life.

Losing It A lifetime in pursuit of sporting excellence

Losing It A lifetime in pursuit of sporting excellence

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/05/2017

To understand Anna Karenina, Mellors, Molly Bloom, Dante, Romeo, Juliet and Bridget Jones you must also have loved and lost and won. To understand sport in the greatest arenas of them all you too must have played and lost and won, known shame, hope, joy, horror and glory. Simon Barnes has taken part in seven summer Olympic Games, five World Cups and ten Ashes series. Well, not exactly taken part, but certainly he was there and writing hard. And always, behind every victory and every defeat he ever recorded, there was the reference of his own sporting career, in which the bitter beauties of failure were occasionally varied with the intoxication of success. At school he was - at least at first - the opposite of a rebel without a cause: he was a sporting fool in search of a game he could excel at, alas finding none. When he was nine he thought he would somehow be miraculously good at sport. Sadly he never was. But the sporting fool within him never died and in his late 20s he tried again - a second sporting career, in which the triumph of hope over experience was more or less a rout. The dream had only slightly modified: he now thought he would be somehow miraculously competent. So he co-founded a football team and at last found himself the first-choice goalkeeper. Then he co-founded a cricket team, on the grounds that by doing so he would always be sure of a game. And at the same time, he got horsiness and discovered he was actually quite good at riding in competition. All these adventures taught him about sport: why we do it, what is required to be very good at it. He learned about the relationship of physical and mental skills, about fear and courage and physical pain. He learned about funk, about Zen-like calm, about the team thing, about the me thing. His sporting failure has been a joyous and profoundly informative part of his life, and here he tells the story of it.

The Sacred Combe A Search for Humanity's Heartland

The Sacred Combe A Search for Humanity's Heartland

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/01/2017

We've all got one. A secret, special place. Hidden. Enclosed. A little greener and more fertile than the world outside. Here the birds are slightly more exotic, slightly more confiding, the grass greener and the fruit sweeter. To know such a place, to love such a place, is part of being human. Sometimes it's a place of myth, like the Garden of Eden. Sometimes it exists in fictional form, like Narnia or Shangri-La. Sometimes it comes in memories of a golden day in childhood, or in a glorious, doomed love affair. Sometimes it's a real place that we daren't go back to, for fear that it - or we - had changed. And just occasionally it's a real place. A place where you leave a small piece of your heart and return as often as you can so as not to lose it. It's a place of privilege. Simon Barnes found such a place when he woke in his first morning in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia to find elephants eating the roof of his hut. It was a homecoming, and he has been faithful to that passion ever since. Here he has known peace, danger, discomfort, fear and a profound sense of oneness with the Valley, with all nature and with the world. With the Valley he found completion. This book explores the special places of the mind and the world, with special reference to the Luangwa Valley and the glorious support of the Valley's great artist, Pam Carr. It's a book about the quest for paradise, and the eternal human search to find such a paradise everywhere.

Meaning of Birds

Meaning of Birds

Author: Simon Barnes Format: eBook Release Date: 08/09/2016

One of our most eloquent nature writers offers a passionate and informative celebration of birds and their ability to help us understand the world we live in. As well as exploring how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year and what their presence tells us about the places they inhabit, The Wisdom of Birds muses on the uses of feathers, the drama of raptors, the slaughter of pheasants, the infidelities of geese, and the strangeness of feeling sentimental about blue tits while enjoying a chicken sandwich. From the mocking-birds of the Galapagos who guided Charles Darwin toward his evolutionary theory, to the changing patterns of migration that alert us to the reality of contemporary climate change, Simon Barnes explores both the intrinsic wonder of what it is to be a bird - and the myriad ways in which birds can help us understand the meaning of life.

The Meaning of Birds

The Meaning of Birds

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/09/2016

One of our most eloquent nature writers offers a passionate and informative celebration of birds and their ability to help us understand the world we live in. As well as exploring how birds achieve the miracle of flight; why birds sing; what they tell us about the seasons of the year and what their presence tells us about the places they inhabit, The Wisdom of Birds muses on the uses of feathers, the drama of raptors, the slaughter of pheasants, the infidelities of geese, and the strangeness of feeling sentimental about blue tits while enjoying a chicken sandwich. From the mocking-birds of the Galapagos who guided Charles Darwin toward his evolutionary theory, to the changing patterns of migration that alert us to the reality of contemporary climate change, Simon Barnes explores both the intrinsic wonder of what it is to be a bird - and the myriad ways in which birds can help us understand the meaning of life.

Prophet and Loss

Prophet and Loss

Author: Simon Barnes Format: eBook Release Date: 17/12/2015

In 1915 the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (later to become The Wildlife Trusts) published a list of 284 places in Britain and Ireland 'worthy of preservation' as permanent nature reserves. The list was the brainchild of the Society's founder Charles Rothschild. It included shingle beaches, highland mountains, ancient woods, stretches of coastline, unspoilt heaths and marshes where Rothschild and his colleagues would search for rare insects and plants. It was the first list of its kind and it had a formative influence on nature conservation as we know it in the United Kingdom. Although some of the places selected by Rothschild have been lost and destroyed, many are still protected for wildlife.In Prophet and Loss Simon Barnes explores the Rothschild List today. He travels to wild places in Scotland, England and Wales - from seabird islands to the fens. He also examines Charles Rothschild the man and reflects on the story of nature conservation and the fight to protect our last wild places. Profits from sales go to The Wildlife Trusts.

Ten Million Aliens

Ten Million Aliens

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/07/2015

Life on planet earth is not weirder than we imagine. It's weirder than we are capable of imagining.And we're all in it together: humans, blue whales, rats, birds of paradise, ridiculous numbers of beetles, molluscs the size of a bus, bdelloid rotifers who haven't had sex for millions of years and creatures called water bears: you can boil them, freeze them and fire them off into space without killing them.In this breathtakingly audacious book, Simon Barnes opens our eyes to the real marvels of the planet we live on.

Ten Million Aliens A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom

Ten Million Aliens A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/10/2014

Life on Planet Earth is not weirder than we imagine. It's weirder than we are capable of imagining. And we're all in it together: humans, blue whales, rats, birds of paradise, ridiculous numbers of beetles, molluscs the size of a bus, the sexual gladiators of slugs, bdelloid rotifers who haven't had sex for millions of years and creatures called water bears: you can boil them, freeze them and fire them off into space without killing them. We're all part of the animal kingdom, appearing in what Darwin called endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful . In this breathtakingly audacious book, Simon Barnes has brought us all together, seeking not what separates us but what unites us. He takes us white-water rafting through the entire animal kingdom in a book that brings in deep layers of arcane knowledge, the works of Darwin and James Joyce, Barnes's own don't-try-this-at-home adventures in the wild, David Attenborough and Sherlock Holmes. Ten Million Aliens opens your eyes to the real marvels of the planet we live on.

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2012

Look out of the window. See a bird. Enjoy it. Congratulations. You are now a bad birdwatcher. Anyone who has ever gazed up at the sky or stared out of the window knows something about birds. In this funny, inspiring, eye-opening book, Simon Barnes paints a riveting picture of how bird-watching has framed his life and can help us all to a better understanding of our place on this planet. How to be a bad birdwatcher shows why birdwatching is not the preserve of twitchers, but one of the simplest, cheapest and most rewarding pastimes around.

Birdwatching with Your Eyes Closed

Birdwatching with Your Eyes Closed

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2012

Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter. It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack of the planet earth...Why do birds sing? What are they trying to say? Birdsong is not just about natural history. It is also about our history. We got melody from the birds as we got rhythm from the womb. This vital book - with a free podcast - takes you from winter into deepest spring, teaching you to how recognise song after song as the chorus swells. You start with robin, and end up listening to nightingales. Along the way, you will learn something of the science of birdsong - the difference between song and call, the physiology of songbirds, what birdsong tells us about evolution, and indeed the very beginnings of life itself. The aim is to give you a flying start in birdsong so that, after reading this book, you'll be listening to order, not chaos, to Bach, not white noise. You will be more aware of the wild world, and better able to understand it.

Birdwatching with Your Eyes Closed

Birdwatching with Your Eyes Closed

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/11/2011

Learning birdsong is not just a way to become a better bird-spotter. It is tuning in: a way of hearing the soundtrack of the planet earth...Why do birds sing? What are they trying to say? Birdsong is not just about natural history. It is also about our history. We got melody from the birds as we got rhythm from the womb. Birds are our music: they teach us to express emotion and beauty in sound. The first instruments ever made were bird-flutes. This book takes the reader on a journey from winter into spring. Along the way, you will learn something of the science of birdsong - the difference between song and call, the physiology of songbirds, what birdsong tells us about evolution, and indeed the very beginnings of life itself. The aim is to give you a flying start in birdsong so that, after reading this book, you'll be listening to order, not chaos, to Bach, not white noise. You will be more aware of the wild world, and better able to understand it.

My Natural History The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me

My Natural History The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/03/2011

The animal kingdom came to my rescue. It always has done. I suspect it always will. It rescued me at Sunnyhill Primary School, it rescued me in my adolescence, it has rescued me over and over again throughout my adult life. In My Natural History Simon Barnes, like a modern-day Gerald Durrell, weaves together the story of his life via the animals and the natural encounters that have shaped it. From the greater horseshoe bat that transported Barnes from the dull classrooms of his youth, to the great whale which marked the moment he knew he was going to be a writer, from Himalayan Kingfishers in India, to majestic lions in the Luangwa valley, each animal represents a piece in the puzzle of Barnes's life. With its humour and poetry, every page fizzing with Barnes's infectious enthusiasm, My Natural History cannot fail to delight and enthrall any lover of the wild world.

The Horsey Life A Journey of Discovery with a Rather Remarkable Mare

The Horsey Life A Journey of Discovery with a Rather Remarkable Mare

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2010

All I can say is that there was something - right from the first. A stubby little mare, bright bay with remarkably large ears. A white star on her forehead shaped like Madagascar, and a huge arse... This is the story of an extraordinary relationship - and an extraordinary horse. When Barnes buys Dolly Dolores VII, he knows he has got something special. She is feisty, restless, mysterious - sometimes crazily unpredictable. But she is also, to her owner's delight, a jumper of mesmerising poise and skill; she canters like a ballerina, gallops like a wild thing. Then, one day, Dolly does something so startling, so inexplicable that she brings her owner to breaking point. Barnes is faced with a terrible decision...The Horsey Life is about a friendship pushed to its limits; but it is also filled with larks and joy - a book which takes you right to the heart of the world of horses and those that love them.

My Natural History The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me

My Natural History The Animal Kingdom and How it Shaped Me

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2010

The animal kingdom came to my rescue. It always has done. I suspect it always will. It rescued me at Sunnyhill Primary School, it rescued me in my adolescence, it has rescued me over and over again throughout my adult life. In My Natural History Simon Barnes, like a modern-day Gerald Durrell, weaves together the story of his life via the animals and the natural encounters that have shaped it. From the greater horseshoe bat that transported Barnes from the dull classrooms of his youth, to the great whale which marked the moment he knew he was going to be a writer, from Himalayan Kingfishers in India, to majestic lions in the Luangwa valley, each animal represents a piece in the puzzle of Barnes's life. With its humour and poetry, every page fizzing with Barnes's infectious enthusiasm, My Natural History cannot fail to delight and enthral any lover of the wild world.

Horsey Life

Horsey Life

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/09/2008

All I can say is that there was something - right from the first. A stubby little mare, bright bay with remarkably large ears. A white star on her forehead shaped like Madagascar, and a huge arse... This is the story of an extraordinary relationship - and an extraordinary horse. When Barnes buys Dolly Dolores VII, he knows he has got something special. She is feisty, restless, mysterious - sometimes crazily unpredictable. But she is also, to her owner's delight, a jumper of mesmerising poise and skill; she canters like a ballerina, gallops like a wild thing. Then, one day, Dolly does something so startling, so inexplicable that she brings her owner to breaking point. Barnes is faced with a terrible decision... The Horsey Life is about a friendship pushed to its limits; but it is also filled with larks and joy - a book which takes you right to the heart of the world of horses and those that love them.

How to be Wild We are All Wild. it's Just That Civilisation Keeps Getting in the Way

How to be Wild We are All Wild. it's Just That Civilisation Keeps Getting in the Way

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/08/2008

As every one who has patted a dog, smelled a rose, taken a walk, or even had a drink in the garden well knows, humans have a soul-deep need for non-human forms of life. This book is about pushing our birthright of wildness just that little bit further. In How to be Wild, Barnes takes us on a journey through a year, from one raucous spring to the next with sparrows and flying squirrels, elephants, badgers and mosquitoes, as his companions. And again and again, he helps us to realise an essential truth: that by enjoying the wild world, by seeking to understand the wild world, our own lives become richer and more satisfying.

How to be Wild

How to be Wild

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/10/2007

We are all wild. It's just that civilisation keeps getting in the way. And the more civilised we become, the more we need the wild: wild places, wild creatures, and wild experiences. As every one who has patted a dog, smelled a rose, taken a walk, or even had a drink in the garden well knows, humans have a soul-deep need for non-human forms of life. This book is about pushing our birthright of wildness just that little bit further. In How to be Wild , Barnes takes us on a journey through a year, from one raucous spring to the next - with sparrows and flying squirrels, blackbirds and elephants, badgers, butterflies and mosquitoes, as his companions. And again and again, in myriad different ways, he helps us to realise an essential truth: that by enjoying the wild world, by saving the wild world, by seeking to understand the wild world, our own lives become richer and more satisfying. That is what being wild means.

Meaning of Sport

Meaning of Sport

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2007

In The Meaning of Sport , award-winning sportswriter Simon Barnes gives you his grandstand seat for a journey from the Olympic Games in Athens to the World Cup in Germany - via the Ashes series, the Ryder Cup, Wimbledon, and more. He examines why sport holds us all in such thrall, how it uplifts and crushes us - and can seem to matter more than life itself. He challenges us to recognise the intelligence of Wayne Rooney, the making of Freddie Flintoff, the mythic nature of Steve Redgrave; and he ponders the ultimate cruelty of the game. This is the book which asks the questions no one else has thought of, and finds some surprising answers. Sport has never been written about like this before.

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/03/2006

Look out of the window. See a bird. Enjoy it. Congratulations. You are now a bad birdwatcher. Anyone who has ever gazed up at the sky or stared out of the window knows something about birds. In this funny, inspiring, eye-opening book, Simon Barnes paints a riveting picture of how bird-watching has framed his life and can help us all to a better understanding of our place on this planet. How to be a bad birdwatcher shows why birdwatching is not the preserve of twitchers, but one of the simplest, cheapest and most rewarding pastimes around.

Bad Birdwatcher's Companion *Signed*

Bad Birdwatcher's Companion *Signed*

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/09/2005

Bad Birdwatcher's Companion 50 Intimate Portraits of Britain's Best-Loved Birds

Bad Birdwatcher's Companion 50 Intimate Portraits of Britain's Best-Loved Birds

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/09/2005

Few books are more intimidating than a conventional field guide. There are simply too many birds in them. This book introduces the reader to Britain's most obvious birds. But it does more than that: it also explains them. It explains the way that different birds do different things, eat different food, sing different songs and live different lives, and it explains why they are different. If you are a would-be birdwatcher but don't know where to start, A Bad Field Guide is for you. It will help you understand birdwatching: but far more important, it will help you begin to understand birds. Robin...But have you ever wondered what a red breast means to a robin? A red breast is not just the way a human can recognise a robin when it comes a-calling, when it sits on a spade or a Christmas card. The red breast is not just a bit of chance colouration. No: the red breast is the core of the robin's being. The red breast is the love, the honour and the glory of a robin. Have you noticed that a robin positively flaunts it? It is as if he is telling the world: for God's sake, I'm a robin!

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

How to be a Bad Birdwatcher

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2004

Even the baddest birdwatcher in the world knows something about birds. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be an anoraked twitcher with top-of-the-range binoculars to have a good time admiring our often-neglected feathered friends in the sky. In this revolutionary approach to ornithology self-confessed bad birdwatcher Simon Barnes gives us the confidence and motivation to get pleasure from one of the simplest, cheapest hobbies there are: watching birds...without letting birdwatching get in the way.