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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

On the Marsh A Year Surrounded by Wildness and Wet

On the Marsh A Year Surrounded by Wildness and Wet

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/06/2019

How the rewilding of eight acres of Norfolk marshland inspired a family and brought nature even closer to home. When writer Simon Barnes heard a Cetti's warbler sing out as he turned up to look at a house for sale, he knew immediately that he had found his new home. The fact that his garden backed onto an area of marshy land only increased the possibilities, but there was always the fear that it might end up in the wrong hands and be lost to development or intensive farming. His wife saw through the delicate negotiations for the purchase. Once they'd bought it, they began to manage it as a conservation area, working with the Wildlife Trust to ensure it became as appealing as possible to all species. For their son Eddie, who has Down's syndrome, it became a place of calm and inspiration. In On The Marsh, we see how nature can always bring surprises, and share in the triumphs as new animals - Chinese water deer, otters and hedgehogs - arrive, and watch as the number of species of bird tops 100 and keeps on growing. As the seasons go by, there are moments of triumph when not one but two marsh harrier families use the marsh as a hunting ground, but also disappointments as chemical run-off from neighbouring farmland creates a nettles monoculture in newly turned earth. For anyone who enjoyed books such as Meadowland, or the writing of Stephen Moss, Roger Deakin or Adam Nicolson, this is a vivid and beautifully written account of the wonders that can sometimes be found on our doorsteps, and how nature can transform us all.

Epic In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters

Epic In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/02/2019

'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.

Epic In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters

Epic In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters

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: 19/01/2017

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: 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.

Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed An Introduction to Birdsong

Birdwatching with your Eyes Closed An Introduction to Birdsong

Author: Simon Barnes Format: Paperback / softback 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 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 birds as we got rhythm from the womb. This vital book with a free podcast takes you from winter into deepest spring, teaching you how to recognise song after song as the chorus swells. You start with robin, and end up listening to nightingales. Along the way, you will learn 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.