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Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year
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Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  397 ratings  ·  70 reviews
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 forty. And so inst ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 17th 2016)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  397 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Linda Schmidt
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! Being a birder myself it was fun to relive some of the places I've been and seen the exact same bird(s) Neil saw. I'm not too sure how much a non-birder would like this book but it was very entertaining and I'm glad Neil Hayward wrote about this adventures in his "Big Year."
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved the intertwining of birding and personal growth. Well-written! Very human... Also loved zooming or walking around the country.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Neil Hayward's book about his accidental Big Year is delightful if you are a birder but is so much more! If you suffer from depression,are facing a milestone birthday when you realize you aren't exactly where you want to be in life,if you are afraid of commitment or if you feel disconnected to "normal" people Neil's book will give you hope and inspiration. Neil is funny and self deprecating and so relatable. Like Cheryl Strayed in "Wild" and Chris McCandless in Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" Nei ...more
Chris Leuchtenburg
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
Following a Big Year is a special kind of thrill for birders like me. Hayward's sharp observations, British humor and lively writing style earn this book a place in the pantheon of Wild America, Kingbird Highway and The Big Year.

However, the last hundred pages, which cover the last three months and the last 30 birds, drags. His anxieties about failed relationships, abandoned job and The Meaning of Life feel repetitive, and the crazy obsessiveness of seeking brief views of new birds all seem mor
April Cote
This book made me want to do a big year. It also made me wish I had gotten into this hobby a lot sooner in life. But most of all, it made me excited to go birding. Highly recommended for birders or nature lovers.
Wendi Lau
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Not a quick read but the reader does get a sense of the excitement and frustration of chasing and waiting for birds, weather, luck. It took a long time for me to finish this book as I looked up every single bird Mr. Hayward talked about. So now I am hooked on looking at bird pictures, sort of a virtual birder. I am blown away by the patience and skill the photographers exercised to take such beautiful pictures. Birds are amazing! Thank you, Neil Hayward!
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019aty, birds
A fascinating account of one person's quest to chase birds. Hayward manages to mix stories of bird chasing and what was going on in his personal life to give insight into the insanity that is a Big Year. As a novice birder myself, I wanted to take notes of the places Hayward had been so that maybe someday I could also visit these places (and see some of the birds he saw).

Well written. Each chapter gives the play-by-play of one month's bird highlights, near misses and the friction that happens i
I adored this audiobook. Birds ❤️ and adventures.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I abandoned this book. I think you need to be a birder to enjoy it. I thought the relationship and personal parts of the story were interesting, but there was too little of that and too much about the birding for my taste. And the relationship part was even a little boring bc we didn't actually seem to learn anything about Gerri as a person or character in the story. I just was not interested in all the birding. But I still gave it two stars because it's not like it was a terrible book, just not ...more
Melissa Mcmasters
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this SO much more than I did! I think it would have benefited from being about half its current length. Some have commented that the relationship aspects of the book were a distraction, but I thought they might have been an interesting way to flesh out the Big Year had he offered any actual insight. Gerri doesn't come across as anything but an incredibly patient person--obviously a nice quality, but there's nothing to make you root for their relationship to succeed. She barely r ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely well-written book and you do not have to be a bird-watcher to enjoy it. Hayward's account of his Big Year is just as much about the journey of a man trying to figure out who he is, and where he should go next. I really, really liked this book.
Laura Lewakowski
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
If you're a birder, you'll enjoy this. Guess I'm glad I'm not at that level yet!
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018 a cruel disease that robs you of your awareness and the motivation to do something about it. It's like a symbiotic organism has crept into your ear, jumped headfirst into the nearest blood vessel, and worked its way deep in your brain. Once there, it fiddles around with the circuitry so that you're not aware of what's happening, and that's when the slow and inexorable slide begins and the color drains out of your world. That dim sense that something is wrong, that things aren't ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and found it very exciting as Hayward tore around North America - through bushes, across rough seas, up trees and over mountains to often spend just a few minutes watching a tiny bird preen itself on a frozen lake. Wonderful. Makes me want to go out and start searching for birds around here - see how many I can see in my region. "After 250,000 miles, 55 rental cars, 28 states, six provinces, 56 airports and 195 days away from home (15 of which were spent on a boat, one ...more
Kristal Cooper
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was an absolute pleasure to read. Not only is it about some of my favorite subjects (birding, travel, epic personal quests), but the author deftly delivers the story, complete with drama, humor and tutelage. Hayward just knows how to write and I do believe birders and "normals" alike would enjoy reading about his experiences during 2013, when he "accidentally" broke the record for most species of wild birds seen in North America in a calendar year. He does a nice job of describing each ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, biography
Overall, an interesting read if you're a birder. The actual stories of tracking down birds were very interesting. And, I always love reading about birding way out in remote parts of Alaska - I'd love to do that one of these days! Although, I still feel like books like this should have enhanced versions which include the photos of the birds he's finding. But, maybe that's just because I'm a birder. :)

I couldn't quite get this up to 4 or 5 stars though because I found the author's additions of hi
John Geary
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about another birder off chasing a “Big Year” dream, while at the same time, chasing his emotions. The author writes first-person stream-of-consciousness in this non-fiction story and often spends as much time writing about his feelings and dealing with his inability to commit to a relationship and his diagnosed depression, as he does the birds and his chase to join the “700 bird club.” It makes for a very interesting combination. He discovers many things during his chase of the ABA ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fun read, if you are a birder, which I am of course. If you love the movie, Big Year, and you fantasize about doing your own North American Big Year, well this is the book for you. Neil Hayward weaves his own person story in with his Big Year, and manages to make it humorous and interesting. I am not sure this would be at all rewarding for non-birders, but it is more than just a Big Year book because Neil uses his Big Year to heal from a bad relationship, a stifling job and depression. ...more
Peg Lotvin
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Another Big Year story. Interesting descriptions of very rare birds and where they are found, but the back story of the author's battle with depression kind of muted the excitement of seeing more birds in a year than anyone else. Seems like he feels better at the end of the year and who wouldn't: the mistreated girl friend is still there on Dec 31 keeping the home fires warm and the title of king of the birdwatchers is his.
Susie Rangel
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read! Well okay if you are reading this because you are a bird enthusiast or perhaps wanting to be, it's fantastic! If you are reading this because it comes up when looking for books about depression, you won't like it. The story really only touches upon his struggle with depression, it's really much more about doing a Big Year. I have to say this book was a more enjoyable read than The Big Year but since they both touch on doing one, there are many similarities.
Jim Tucker
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a psychologist and life-long birder, Hayward's account is one of the most entertaining and informative birding books that I have read. The combination of detail and information leaves the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the personal and social nature of the sport of birding. the book is recommended for non-birders as well as those who are obsessed with the feathered creatures that inhabit our world.
Darren Kirby
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great story about a middle aged man suffering from middle aged ennui trying to figure out what to do with his life. In this case, travelling North America to spot as many birds as possible.

The book is well written and easy to read. While I've no doubt this book will hold special meaning for birders, I expect anyone who has searched for greater meaning in their life will appreciate it.

Giorgia Bardini
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly uplifting book about life and how it relates to birds. Hayward's stories were very enjoyable and gave me an educational glimpse of a world I didn't know much about. I found myself rooting for him the entire time. I also appreciated the parallels that the author drew between himself and the birds he was travelling miles to see. Sometimes tedious in certain parts to get through but very recommended!
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book but unfortunately I didn't. I found that midway through the story lost momentum. I had to put it aside for a while before I was able to go back and finish it. I think it would be better if you were familiar with all the different birds and places, but as someone who is only familiar with the common birds in Southern Ontario I found it difficult to get drawn into the story.
Karen Snepp
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Since I’m a birder (though not to the extent of THESE birders!), I don’t know if most non-birders would enjoy this book as much as I did. But it has relevance to anyone with a passion for pursuit, & it’s a good “personal journey” also. I enjoyed reading about the birds, about Neil’s thought processes & about his personal evolution through the year. ...more
Bill Leach
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The author succeeded in completing a record breaking "Big Year" in birding by observing 749 species of birds in the continental U.S. and Canada. The book is largely a narrative of his various trips, inter-weaved with his effort to understand his objectives in life. Good light reading.
Ann Fisher
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read a bunch of big year books. This is by far the best, helped by both his bemusement at where he finds himself and his honesty about his depression and his fear of relationships. Very satisfying.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book so kinda made me want to do A Big Year! Well if I won the lottery.
It was entertaining and captivating and thoroughly described the experience of tracking and getting life birds. So much fun.
Susan Alden
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this.....but I'm pretty much into birds. Don't know if someone else would like it or not.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book made me laugh out loud several times!
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