Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds

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Product Description

A frustrated housewife sets out to see more bird species than anyone in history—and ends up risking her life again and again in the wildest places on earth.

Phoebe Snetsinger had planned to be a scientist, but, like most women who got married in the 1950s, she ended up keeping house, with four kids and a home in the suburbs by her mid-thirties. Numb and isolated, she turned to bird-watching, but she soon tired of the birds near home and yearned to travel the world. Then her life took a crushing turn: At forty-nine, she was diagnosed with cancer and told that she had less than a year to live. Devastated, she began crisscrossing the globe, finding rare and spectacular birds that brought her to the heights of spiritual ecstasy. But as it turned out, she beat the cancer. She eventually went to more than a hundred countries, had frequent brushes with danger, became a hero in the birding world, and set a record for the most species seen. Life List is a powerful portrait of a woman who found refuge from society’s expectations in a dangerous and soul-stirring obsession.

Customer Reviews:

  • Well done, Ms. Gentile
    This is the first biography I have read in quite some time that was a page turner. It is extremely interesting, accessible and suprisingly relevant to anyone -- even if you have no interest in birding. It definately think about my life and my passions. Like Oliva says when does a passion become and obsession? And when does that become pathology? Thank you for the excellent read! ...more info
  • A Life Fully Lived
    Olivia Gentile's beautifully recounted story of Phoebe Snetsinger's life raises universal questions of what it means to live a fully-actualized life and the potential price of greatness. It is also just a great read! Highly recommended....more info
  • Life List -- Life Quest
    I found this book hard to put down. It is a very interesting approach to a biography -- one that combines a life history, travel, nature, philosophy, criticism and the active, first person participation of the author. Olivia Gentile writes in a beguiling, conversational style that quickly invites the reader into the book. Phoebe Snetsinger pushed the envelope in many ways -- almost liberated by a dire medical diagnosis. She roamed the world looking for birds and much more. It took Olivia Gentile's analytical and objective eye to put it all in perspective....more info
  • Birding on Borrowed Time
    I haven't read this book, so I can't actually rate it, but I find it bizarre, to put it mildly, that not a single one of the "professional" reviews, nor any of the customer reviews, mentions Snetsinger's autobiography, Birding on Borrowed Time, which tells the story in her own words (with an Epilogue written by her son). Truly a classic in birding literature!...more info
  • Any birder would love this book
    We are birders but cannot comprehend the extent of seeing 8,000 species in Phoebe's lifetime. After seeing an Indigo bunting in our wooded backyard for the first time in 12 years living here, Wow, I can understand her obsession.
    S. Seldon...more info
  • A Cautionary Tale?
    What a marvelous book Olivia Gentile has written! The book is fascinating right to the last paragraph, something you expect from a novel but don't often find in a biography. The book captures not only the essence of Phoebe Snetsinger's passion for seeing the birds of the world, but also makes the reader both amazed and a little appalled at Phoebe's obsessive determination to see her birds NO MATTER WHAT! For anyone who has ever wondered at the name of that little bird outside the window, "Life List" will be an inspiration to learn more about birds. And for the long-time birders hurrying to fill their own notebooks with names of birds seen and heard, this might serve as a cautionary tale. ...more info
  • A Warning to Obsessives of Any Stripe
    Because I'll be reviewing Life List in an upcoming issue of Bird Watcher's Digest, I'll keep this brief. This little book rolls over you like a steam train, slowly gaining speed and intensity, and clattering away in your mind long after you've finished it. With her straightforward, mostly nonjudgmental take, showing without telling, Olivia Gentile raises questions about Phoebe Snetsinger's choices that caused me to examine my own prejudices and boundaries in the pursuit of personal fulfillment. Its penetrating depth is the little surprise of a book that's gripping enough to be a novel, but tells nothing but the truth....more info


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