birds cover

At twelve years old, Lev Parikian was an avid birdwatcher. He was also a fraud, a liar and a cheat. Those lists of birds seen and ticked off? Lies. One hundred and thirty species? More like sixty.

Then, when he turned fifty, he decided to right his childhood wrongs. He would go birdwatching again. He would not lie. He would aim to see two hundred species of British bird in a year.

Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? is the story of that year, a story about birds, family, music, nostalgia, the nature of obsession and obsession with nature. It’s about finding adventure in life when you twig it’s shorter than you thought, and about losing and regaining contact with the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world.

It’s a book for anyone who has ever seen a small brown bird and wondered what it was, or tried to make sense of a world in which we can ask, ‘What’s that bird?’ and ‘What’s for lunch?’ and get the same answer.


“I love this book. It’s beautifully written, funny and approachable. Lev Parikian has a fine line in description, a musician’s ear for birdsong and a talent for looking at things properly that we can all learn from.” Sam West

“The loveliest book about birdwatching you will ever read.” Emma Kennedy

“The best book I have read this year.” Natalie Fergie, author of The Sewing Machine

“…good-hearted and well made, funny and clever” Richard Smyth, Times Literary Supplement

“This is a warm, joyful and hilarious book; an uplifting read for those who have ever suffered at the hands of modern life, or for those who simply love the velvet symphony of a blackbird at dusk.” Tiffany Francis, author of Food You Can Forage

“It made me cry, twice, it made me laugh out loud, and it made me pretty envious.” Alice Stringer, Down The Rabbit Hole

“…takes pride of place along with the very best nature books in my library.” John Fish, The Last Word Book Review

“Pithy prose that’s sprinkled with wry humour, the overall effect calling to mind Douglas Adams.” Chris Foster, Considering Birds

“Anyone interested in birds, or people, birds and people, would do well to grab themselves a copy of this most charming of books.” Matt Gilbert, Richly Evocative

“Brings some welcome humour to the new wave of nature writing.” The Bookseller


Classical music fans looking for guidance on the mysteries of conducting will find answers, and laughs, in this book. Covering everything from baton technique to player psychology to shirt colours and pencil choices and much more besides, Waving, Not Drowning is the indispensable guide to the world of the orchestral conductor.

With the tragic death of co-author and doyen of the podium Barrington Orwell in an as yet unexplained contrabassoon accident, it was left to his colleague and friend Lev Parikian to complete the story on his behalf. The result is part biography, part coaching manual, all wisdom.

“Highly entertaining … Hilarious … A must-read.” Classical Music magazine

“A must for any would-be conductor—of an orchestra, electricity or a bus. Brilliant because it’s both serious and funny.” Sir Ronald Harwood

Amazon reviews:

“Very funny … there are very, very few books that have genuinely made me laugh out loud more than once.”

“Not many books make me properly laugh out loud but this one did, and a laugh does you good, so read it for the good of your health. It might even get you a nice bit of elbow room on the Tube. I was reading it on an Underground journey where one section in particular made me snort loudly with laughter. A proper snort, like a hog.”

“An extremely entertaining read and a piquant insight into the world of conducting, of psychology, of human relations. No specialist musical knowledge necessary.”