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

Extended Audio Sample The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession Audiobook, by Mark Obmascik Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,485 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Obmascik Narrator: Del Roy Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2003 ISBN: 9781415901960
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A classic in the making -- an account of the biggest year in birdwatching history.

In the USA, some 50 million people lay claim to being bird-watchers or “birders,” spending billions of dollars on birding-related travel and membership fees every year. A select, and utterly obsessed, few compete in one of the world’s quirkiest contests -- the race to spot the most species in North America in a single year. And 1998 wasn’t just a big year. It was the biggest. The Big Year is Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Obmascik’s account of what was to become the greatest birding year of all time.

It was freak weather conditions that ensured all previous records were broken, but what becomes clear within the pages of this classic portrait of obsession is that while our feathered friends may be the objective of the Big Year competition, it’s the curious activities and behavioural patterns of the pursuing “homo sapiens” that are the real cause for concern. It is a contest that reveals much of the human character in extremes. Such are the author’s powers of observation that he brilliantly brings to life and gets under the skin of these extraordinary, eccentric and obsessive birders while empathizing with and eventually succumbing to the all-consuming nature of their obsession. The result is a wonderfully funny, acutely observed classic to rank alongside the best of Bill Bryson.


From the Trade Paperback edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Superlative…ebulliently wonderful…The suspense ratchets up, and Obmascik’s considerable skill is to make these men so real in their quests, so admirably alive, that in the end who wins the contest is almost beside the point…Because the true subject here is the human spirit—and all the impossible, incredible, and wondrous things we do and endure for our beloved passions.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A most compelling tale. This is a bird book for the masses…Their chase is entertaining and wonderfully retold.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Obmascik keeps the reader guessing in this fun account of a whirlwind pursuit of birding fame.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “With a blend of humor and awe, Obmascik takes the reader into the heart of competitive birding, and in the process turns everyone into birders.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kip | 2/19/2014

    " Because of this book's subject matter--birdwatching--I can't seem to persuade anyone to give this book a try. But The Big Year is much more about human behavior than avian antics. The book is filled with quirky, obsessed characters who will do almost anything to edge out their fellow birders. I found this to be one of the most delightful books I've read in recent years. The books is funny and suspenseful, even if you don't care much for birds or birders. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sonny | 2/10/2014

    " This horse race among three obsessive compulsives is really about passion & commitment. Few have the time, money and knowledge to enter this race. I admire these guys, but my big year will be following the Chicago Cubs around the country, eating ballpark food and drinking ballpark beer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erica | 2/5/2014

    " I loved the movie and decided to read the book. It was a really enjoyable read. I'm not a birder and still found it interesting. The lengths these birders go to do a Big Year is amazing/crazy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 2/4/2014

    " An entertaining non fiction book about three seemingly normal men and their adventures as they do a "Big Year", which in birdwatching terms means to devote a year to siting as many birds as possible. Although their obsession is funny, I found I could empathize in the big picture of wanting to be the best at something, and having the ambition to try to make it happen. (I remember showing hunter/jumpers in my younger days). I have had this book on my shelves for many years, and I randomly picked it to read, but- serendipity! my boys inform me that a movie is out, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. Cant wait to see it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric Bingham | 2/3/2014

    " Wow! Maybe I just liked this book so much because I am a birder, but I couldn't put it down. There was only one thing about this book that I didn't like, (and I would rate it a 4.5 if I could). First, there were occasional profanities thrown in, and the author sometimes would say something about the birds having "wild crazy sex," just to make it sound more exciting, but to me that just made it sound less professional. I loved learning the history of birders and birding through this entertaining story of 3 crazy guys who gave everything for a year of chasing birds around North America. FUN READ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen | 1/31/2014

    " The movie was quite fun. The book even more so, which begs the question: Why does Hollywood change things? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monique | 1/24/2014

    " This is a very entertaining read about three men who are competing in "The Big Year". Each character is obsessed with seeing the most unique birds they can in one year, no matter the cost, travel or discomfort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Leuchtenburg | 1/10/2014

    " Sprightly written with 3 attractively flawed characters who bounce across the continent in pursuit of rare birds. Only recommended for listers, but highly recommended for them. Enticing references to specific locations to see some rare birds. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 1/10/2014

    " I picked up this book on a whim and enjoyed the entire experience, but what I remember most is my shock that it was a true story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 12/12/2013

    " A really fun book. It is non-fiction and you do learn quite a bit about the birding and its history, but at the same time it reads like a novel, and a pretty exciting one at that. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Peg Lotvin | 4/22/2013

    " Unless you are a rabid bird-watcher or a lover of invented pot boilers where there are none, don't bother. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caren | 1/15/2013

    " Interesting as a birder. I will never get that many birds in a life, let alone in one year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheri | 12/3/2012

    " I enjoyed it, but I think this one is only for birdwatchers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie Mac | 11/28/2011

    " This was good, despite how long it took me to read it. This should have been a quick read, I'm just off to a slow start this year. If you are at all interested in birds this will probably be a fascinating read for you. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deb | 9/3/2010

    " Again, I was looking for a beach read, and while this book was light and an interesting study of passion/obsession, I would have enjoyed it more if I gave a hoot about birdwatching. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 8/10/2009

    " Totally entertaining. This book is way beyond my expectation with bird knowledge and the tenacious of extreme birding. I wonder why I kept it on my shelf for so many years and not reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jodi Parrish | 3/23/2009

    " My brother gave me this book to read and it was pretty fun. I would really like to give it 3 1/2 stars. It's an interesting look into a world that I didn't even know existed. Nice little read if you want something light but not fluffy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Big O | 6/17/2005

    " $60,000 and 745 birds seen in the continental US along with 275,000 miles traveled makes this for one interesting read about people that might, just might, be insane. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 6/8/2005

    " A wonderful and light hearted look into a Big Year. Having been a bird keeper at a major U.S. zoo for many years it was a very enjoyable read. If you don't know what the Big Year is it is a must read. Wanted to read it after watching the enjoyable film. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurel | 2/1/2005

    " Don't pass this up because it sounds like a boring bird book. It is much more! Plus, you might just find your own bird obsession in the process. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 R. | 12/1/2004

    " I saw the movie and was interested in reading the book. It was great fun. Of course, now I am a beginning birder, but more of the life-list kind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 4/4/2004

    " Witty and engaging. Who knew that competitive birding could be so riveting? Journalistic in style, Obmascik does a great job of making 3 men's quest to be top birder an effort you want to see to the end. "

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