Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A lady from our book club met the author and recommended this well researched book about a housewife who discovers bird watching and becomes the first to see and record 8,000 birds. I personally had a hard time with Phoebe Snetsinger. What would you do if you were the mother of four children and were diagnosed with one year to live? Well Phoebe decides to see as many birds around the world as she possibly can and basically abandons her family. Turns out she lives almost two decades more. She endures quite the adventures of searching the world for the opportunity to see and record rare birds. I get the spiritual feeling of being out in nature. There is a peaceful, blissful feeling of just, walking, sitting, hearing and being in the outdoors that our creator has made for us. But to leave the most important people in our lives behind, just astounds me.
Phoebe may be the greatest pioneer female bird watcher, but she is probably one of the most selfish people I've ever read about. She skips her mother's funeral to take a bird watching trip as well as her daughters wedding. Something is just wrong with that, let alone leaving her husband for months at a time and when he asks for a divorce she is angry and refuses and basically lies to him saying, once she gets to a certain number of birds she'll quit. Well she just keeps going.
She was definitely her father's daughter, Leo Burnett, the great Chicago advertising giant who devoted his life to his work and neglected his family as well. (Funny side note) I was on a United flight to Phoenix when I started reading this book and came to the part how Leo Burnett came up with the advertising slogan "Fly the Friendly Skies of United" back in the 60's. I just thought that was fun, here I was flying the same airline.
Because of her successful father Phoebe was able to travel the world, which I thought was selfish. The good thing was when she died, her children donated the rest of her money to great causes in helping restore lands to keep some of these beautiful birds from going extinct.
This book made for a great book discussion. We all agreed had it not been for our friend meeting the author, none of us would have read Life List.
Side note - I'm obviously not an expert writer so I really have no authority in critiquing any one else, but it drove me crazy that Olivia Gentile wrote so many times "and in her memoir, she said" I get it, you read her journals and these were her words but jeeesh shouldn't the editor have caught that.
Here's the authors link, which I did think was kind of cute.
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