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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: Oliver Wyman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2004 ISBN: 9780739302521
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A classic in the making—an account of the biggest year in bird-watching 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 behavioral 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tessa Eger | 2/2/2014

    " The movie has been changed, of course, but it is entertaining...worth watching. It changed my mind about visiting some of the high-traffic birding destinations. The visit to Attu, in the Aleutians, was pretty funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mila | 1/14/2014

    " An entertaining look at how three bird watching fanatics chase after birds all across North America to see who can see the most birds in one year. It was a bit slow to start but as I got to know the characters I was drawn in to the story. Obmascik's writing is full of wit and hilarious at times. I heard Jack Black is going to be in the movie which was shot in Vancouver and I loved trying to figure out who he was going to play. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louis | 1/13/2014

    " This book reminded me once again it's not a good idea to read books on subjects you're not all that interested in. It was mildly interesting to learn about the development of competitive birdwatching but I could not work up any excitement about the three birders followed in the book. The movie fictionalized the story in a time frame much better for me, two hours. This book is well-written but you need to care about the subject matter to really get anything out of it. I don't even feel like I can write about it in my blog. "

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

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Abby Matthews | 12/3/2013

    " This book had a quirky and potentially interesting premise, but I gave up on it. It was fun for a while, but I can only tolerate caricatures of over-the-top obsessed bird watchers for a while. The writer's sardonic tone is funny at first, but it gets old because it does nothing to make you care about the people being described. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 10/15/2013

    " I enjoyed this book but I'm not sure that a non-birder would. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Seth | 10/8/2013

    " I tend to like books that detail obsessive nerds indulging their innocuous obsessions. And that, more or less, is what Obmascik delivers in a quick, fun read. That said, there were a few instances where Obmascik might have gotten a bit carried away (e.g., describing the inner life of a watched bird) and there was nothing terribly original about the writing or structure of the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pamela House | 9/27/2013

    " An interesting windows on the passion of bird watching. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric Bingham | 9/13/2013

    " 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! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Carreno | 8/31/2013

    " Love this book!!! Definitely on my favorites/recommend to everyone list. ;) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 8/13/2013

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kiersten | 2/6/2013

    " Interesting to learn about the personalities of birders and what birding is all about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle Bradley | 1/28/2013

    " A great, fun, read! Especially if you like birding. Now, I can watch the movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexandra | 1/14/2013

    " Interesting book, hard to put down. Somewhat unevenly written, and I wish it had photos. But overall a fun read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 12/26/2012

    " Saw the movie and had to read the book...three birders out to challenge the numbers of birds they could see in a year...humorous and wonderful tales...and great birding info "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debby | 10/28/2012

    " loved it ,easy reading,fun,learned about a new subject "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 9/8/2012

    " I just really enjoyed this book. Easy and fun to read, great real characters - and a inside look at a feat that will never be rivaled. And it doesn't hurt that i'm a birdnerd, too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Big O | 10/16/2011

    " $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 Gavin | 10/27/2010

    " Funny and well written. If you grew up around 'bird people' or are one yourself, you'll love it. It's a great and often hilarious account of obsessive birders on a quest to see more birds in one year than anyone else ever has. Why? I still haven't figured that out... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron | 1/14/2010

    " This is the best book I've ever read on competitive birdwatching. Funny story of a strange obsession. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arch | 12/19/2009

    " this is a pretty good book. certainly a quick and enjoyable read. unfortunately, because it's non-fiction, the characters' stories don't play out as they would in a novel. in other words, the character i was rooting for didn't win the race. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 10/29/2008

    " I was really surprised by how much I liked this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenn | 7/21/2004

    " Fast, easy read with lots of great, vignette-style writing that made me what to get out there and do a "Big Year" myself some day. "

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About the Narrator

Oliver Wyman is an actor and award-winning audiobook narrator. His first full-length audiobook, It’s Not about the Bike, won an Audie Award. Quickly renowned for his versatility, he went on to win several Audie Awards and seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards in genres ranging from drama and humor to nonfiction and children’s stories.