Friday, September 30, 2011

I just finished reading "The Big Year..."

...for the fourth time! Can you tell I like this book? I remember the first time I saw it. I was in Barnes & Noble, and it was sitting on a table in the entryway. Its cover jacket art was gorgeous--a tern sitting on a pair of binoculars! "Whoa...what is this?" went through my mind. The title was "The Big Year: a tale of man, nature and fowl obsession," and it was by Mark Obmascik. I bought it on the spot, brought it home, and couldn't put it down. I loved it! What birder wouldn't? The book is about three passionate birders who take a year of their lives to scramble all over North America looking for birds--all of them--the 675 or so "regular" species that live in North America plus all the "rarities" or accidentals and vagrants that wander in too. It's an intense competition of will and stamina fueled by sacrifice, obsession, and money.

Over the years I bought several copies of the book to give as gifts to friends, and I loaned my book out several times too, including just recently, so when Kristin from Free Press contacted me to review the movie tie-in edition of the book I was happy. I wanted to read the book one more time before I saw the movie, so the timing was perfect. The fourth time around I loved the book just as much as the first three. Maybe more...

The new book cover for the tie-in edition to The Big Year movie!

I had to laugh at myself when I looked at the new cover, and I wondered how many other birders did the same thing I did...check out the binoculars to see what the stars were toting. (If you're curious, it looks like Owen Wilson, who plays Sandy Komito, is carrying Zeiss...Steve Martin, who plays Al Levantin, is holding Swarovski...and Jack Black, who plays OHIO birder, Greg Miller, prefers Kowa.) And I hate to admit it, but I also gave the American Robin hanging off Steve Martin's bins the once over (did you?). He's a bit too small, but I know in the movie the birds are going to be spot on because Greg Miller was a bird adviser for the film and worked very hard to keep the birding real. How do I know? I actually got to meet Greg Miller at the Midwest Birding Festival a few weeks ago. He gave a presentation on his birding adventures during his Big Year and also talked about his experiences with the film. Better than that, though, I stayed in the same hotel as Greg and spent part of the first evening talking with him! Wow! Greg is incredibly nice and kind, and I really enjoyed meeting him...

Greg Miller and I in the lobby of Hotel Lakeside at the Midwest Birding Symposium.

...before you see the movie--or after, make sure you read the book! The movie is based on the book, but it's a little different. I've heard the names have been changed and from what I've seen in the previews, so have a few of the adventures.

11 comments:

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Kelly,
Very nice story what you've told here. It must be an honor to be allowed to read this book.
Nice shot of you with Greg Miller.

Greetings, Marco

Fleetwood Birder said...

Hello Kelly, I've never read this book so I have just ordered it. Thanks for recommending it! Cheers, Seumus

TexWisGirl said...

i hope the movie will coincide with the book enough to satisfy you. i'm sure they'll take some comedic liberties. :)

you are SO gorgeous!!! what a beauty!

holdingmoments said...

I've heard about this film; sounds like it will be a good one. Great cast.

Tammie Lee said...

awesome when you can enjoy a book this many reads! Loved seeing this beautiful photo of you.

Hilke Breder said...

I am reading the book, which is wonderful, though comparing it with the description of the 3 birders in the movie - they didn't sound like those three characters in the book at all, but will have to see. In this oontext I couldn't pass over Ken Kaufman's Kingbird Highway which I found soooo inspiring, but probably wouldn't work as a movie, since it's just one main character.

freebird said...

How great for you that you've been a long-time fan of the book and now you got to meet the birder who helped with the movie. Bet you were in 7th heaven!

When a bird kept pecking at my tree the other day I almost wrote you to ask if it would hurt the tree. I figured of everyone I "know", you'd be the one to have an answer but then I realized Google would have the answer too. It seems I have a woodpecker and according to Google, he eats bugs not trees. I hope I read that right anyhow considering the ants are making off with my two Italian cypress. I don't have many trees here in the desert and don't like losing the ones I have. Anyhow, the point is, I think of you as the bird expert just as you think of Greg Miller!

forgetmenot said...

I'm looking forward to the movie, and with your recommendation, I will probably get the book. Love the hummingbird in your last post--spectacular!! Have a nice weekend. Mickie :)

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. I can't wait until the show opens! It's going to be so much fun to see real birding up on the big screen. I don't care if the movie strays too far from the book. Both will be great I'm sure...

...every time I think about the sacrifice that goes into a Big Year I shudder. It would be a great adventure, but boy...what a big undertaking. Planning, saving...and endless amounts of energy. Plus keeping track. I can't even keep track of a grocery list. How could I ever keep track of over 700 birds!! :-)

Toni said...

Great post Kelly. I know I will not have time to read the book before seeing the movie, but will be sure to read it after. Here in Erie we are planning an audubon outing to go see the movie on opening night. Should be fun!

Montanagirl said...

I shall have to read the book - it would be a good diversion for me right about now. Sounds wonderful!