The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

A Book Review
By Jess Friedman

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Book cover for The Big Year by Mark Obmascik

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.

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My Thoughts

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.

My Rating:
3.5/5
Jess Friedman

Jess Friedman

Jess is a Canadian-American who's always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about strengthening families by empowering women to make space for things that bring them true and lasting joy. You can read more posts by Jess here.
Jess Friedman

Jess Friedman

Jess is a Canadian-American who's always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about strengthening families by empowering women to make space for things that bring them true and lasting joy. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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