“A phenomenal tale—beautifully told—of escape, risk, and obsession. Judicious [and] insightful.”—Patricia O’Toole, author of When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House
"Except for one thing, this book would rate as a great adventure novel and fictional psychological portrait, about a woman's obsession with bird-watching, its effect on her relationships with her husband and her four children, and the horrifying mishaps that she survived on each continent--until the last mishap. But the book isn't that great novel, because instead it's a great true story: the biography of Phoebe Snetsinger, who set the world record for bird species seen, after growing up in an era when American women weren't supposed to be competitive or have careers. Whether or not you pretend that it's a novel, you'll enjoy this powerful, moving story."—Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse
"An intriguing portrait of one of the best-known birders of the modern age. I couldn't put it down!"—Peter Kaestner, America’s top (living) bird lister
“Life List is an engaging saga of how a brave and complex woman defied cancer and gender in an epic quest to become the first person to see 8,000 bird species."—Frank Gill, author Ornithology
“I am not a woman. I am not a birdwatcher, and don't plan to become one. But I nevertheless found Life List to be a charming, heartening, fascinating, and altogether inspiring guide to living life (and facing death) with one's full attention.”—Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday
“Life List will easily attract bird-people and the rest of us with its distinctive call. Olivia Gentile has written a graceful and very appealing book.”—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap and Sleepwalking
"Gentile's tale of a desperate but determined housewife with a passion for birds and adventure is engrossing, sharp, and affecting--a touching portrait and great read."—Susan Orlean, author The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup and The Orchid Thief
“Life List is an uncommon sort of book--a sincere, sometimes sombre flight through the remarkable, storied life of one of birding's most tenacious and most erudite adherents. Olivia Gentile approaches her subject with equal parts sympathy and sobriety, capturing both the exhilaration and the costs of pursuing one's passion to the fullest.”—Edward S. Brinkley, editor of North American Birds Journal
"Olivia Gentile’s Life List is the remarkable story of Phoebe Snetsinger, a woman trapped by her life as homemaker, who found liberation in bird watching. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she began traveling the world, not seeking a cure, but in search of rare birds—becoming a kind of ornithologist's heroine, and living another eighteen years. Gentile’s journalistic temperament lures you in, whether you like birds or not (frankly I kind of hate them). The result is a beautifully revealing, sensitive exploration of Snetsinger’s singular obsession. The story slips under your skin—you can’t help but keep reading.”—A.M. Homes
“Phoebe Snetsinger lived a life of high adventure and exotic travel familiar to 19th century explorers - except that she was a 1960s Midwestern housewife who was supposed to be dying of cancer. How she became the world's most driven, globe-trotting birder, what she gained and what she sacrificed to see three-quarters of the Earth's birds, makes Life List an unusually compelling story.”—Scott Weidensaul, author of Of a Feather
A great book, and one for any Birder or anyone interested in the many pursuits life has to offer.
Phoebe Snetsinger's story is fascinating -- she had a wacky, incredible life, and Gentile does a fantastic job of capturing it.
Ms. Gentile's writing style is engaging to read and I found myself unable to put the book down until I had finished it.
I conclude that Phoebe was not the sort who should ever gotten married and had children, but at the time, she lived by the "rules" and did so. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Catherine
Phoebe Snetsinger, the daughter of advertising pioneer Leo Burnett, travelled the world in search of birds following a melanoma diagnosis and went on to become the greatest birder... Read morePublished 5 months ago by John Bloomfield
As a bird watcher wannabe I really enjoyed the passion and desire of the main character. However, her dreams, in this time period, were quite different than what her family may... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marsha M McCaleb
Really enjoyed her quest and her trials. I plan to go back into it and look for some birds to pursuePublished 13 months ago by Eleanor Balaban
This was recommended by my grand daughter, who is into birding, also a biology major. I am really enjoying it so farPublished 20 months ago by Elizabeth
For anyone who likes birdwatching, do not buy this book. The author appears to have given no time to understanding Phoebe's passion, and it is evident throughout the book. Read morePublished on December 11, 2012 by M. Hamilton
This book was placed in the fiction sections of our community library, but I quickly realized that this was actually a true story of a remarkable woman; a woman with a singular... Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by WordNerdSHM
I have and had been aware of the exploits of Phoebe Snetsinger well before her death at the age of 68 in a bus accident in Madagascar. Read morePublished on June 2, 2012 by D. Blankenship