Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn't want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn't want to think about his failed relationship with 'the one' or his potential for ruining a new relationship with 'the next one'. And he almost certainly didn't want to think about turning 40. And so instead he went birding.
Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans. But this time he also found competition. His growing list of species reluctantly catapulted him into a Big Year - a race to find the most birds in one year. His peregrinations across 28 states and six provinces in search of exotic species took him to a hoarfrost-covered forest in Massachusetts to find a fieldfare; to Lake Havasu, Arizona, to see a rare Nutting's flycatcher; and to Vancouver for the red-flanked bluetail.
Neil's Big Year was as unplanned as it was accidental: It was the perfect distraction from life. Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: during his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it.
"Narrator Sam Devereaux flawlessly portrays transplanted Brit Neil Hayward, who gives up his lucrative biotechnology career to bird-watch and heal after a painful breakup. Devereaux's Hayward generously shares the thrill of bird-watching as he quietly hides in cold, wet bushes, awaiting the arrival of these most elusive creatures. With a count of 749 birds, Hayward breaks the American Birding Association's Big Year record. The most fun comes from Hayward's accent and wit, both delivered authentically by Devereaux. When Hayward travels with an array of American bird-watchers, Devereaux continues to present an impressive range of accents. Even non- bird-watchers will enjoy Hayward's musings on nature and life - both human and avian. Listeners will experience Hayward's joy as he regains his confidence and realizes that Gerri, his new girlfriend, is perfect for him." (AudioFile magazine)
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Best vicarious Big Year
In this book we get to follow Neil Haywards birding Big Year. Being a birder, this the birding storyline is interesting and exciting, with good descriptions of birds and birding. The author avoids reducing the species to mere ticks on a list, but in a straight forward but engaging manner he manages to convey his love for birds.
Parallel to the birding story we get a vivid insight into the development of his personal crisis which centers around Gerri, his girlfriend.
What makes this audiobook so pleasurable is how beatifully these two stories are interwoven.
Sam Deveraux's performance is perfect.
- Janus Hansen