Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year—a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest—or maybe worst—birding contest of all time.
I really enjoyed the movie version of The Big Year, so I was excited to learn that it was a book first. It was well-written and fun, and it kind of made me want to do a big year. (But in reality, I think I’ll just stick to backyard birding…) Mostly, I just really enjoy stories about people following their dreams—the quirkier, the better. There were a few parts that were a little dull (I could have done with slightly less than a complete history of North American bird watching…), but so long as the story centered on our three protagonists, I found it engaging and enjoyable.
Also, a note on the audiobook: I found the narration a bit grating at times. I would recommend the print version over the audio version.