By Tim Birkhead


If you’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing me talk at length about nature books, you’ll know that I love anything a bit niche.

Although I enjoy books with wide themes, I sometimes find myself tiring of the volume of generalist nature books structured around personal experience. I love them, but there are just so many of them. They often contain tantalising facts that make me wish the author would delve a bit deeper into the natural history side of things.

That’s why I love it when I find books that are a detailed exploration of a narrower subject. Instead of breezing past a fascinating topic with a passing reference to its natural history, The Most Perfect Thing is 277 glorious pages of detail on birds’ eggs.

How are birds’ eggs formed? How are they coloured? Why do they look the way they do? What goes on inside them? Why are they different shapes? How does a chick grow and hatch?

Birkhead explores these questions and more and his excitement about this wonderful subject is infectious.

If you’re looking for takeaways, you’ll need to be sure to read the whole section before taking your highlighter to the page. This is as much a book about what we don’t know about birds’ eggs as it is about what we do know.

The author often goes a long way towards explaining the reason for an aspect of egg adaptation before revealing that the theory was never proven or was later disproved. Usually I find this frustrating, but when it comes to birds’ eggs each of the theories – and the history of how they came to be – is itself so fascinating that reading this book is a joy.

If ever you feel your awe at the wonder of the natural world fading, pick up this book.

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