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4.2 out of 5 stars
32
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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From hormone (and alcohol) soaked student angst to a more sedate (but still alcohol soaked) middle age we follow the life, loves and birding career of the author. His first attempts to chat up girls and his first attempts to put names to birds are laid out in what seems to be an honest and often funny account of his life. The first half of this book seems to dash past with the haste of youth, while the second half proceeds at a more leisurely, middle aged pace, and in many ways that is actually part of the charm of this book.
In both parts of the book the point is made that we are better off as people if we can take time to look at the world around us, and we are even better off if we can start to recognise some of the things we see. This is a book destined to please many people, birders, occasional birders and non-birders alike.
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on 24 March 2009
A little gem. Anyone who has avoided this book because of Mr McGrath's boisterous "blokey" persona that he projects in his television appearances should think again as he has written a truly charming and delightful read - a poignant and sensitive love story woven amongst the trials and tribulations of University and later adult life and all told through his own experiences of bird watching. Many might think that such a pastime is only for the "anoraks" of society, but Mr McGrath's anecdotes are informative and always entertaining and manage to put a lot of fun into what might seem to outsiders to be something of a dry and uninspiring hobby. Rory McGrath makes it magical and absorbing, at times very funny, and you might even learn something along the way. The easily offended should be warned that this is an adult story told in an adult way, but that shouldn't deter you from this quality read, and if the producers of wildlife TV shows are looking for a hairy comedian to replace Bill Oddie at any time in the future, they could do much worse than to give Mr McGrath a call.
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on 22 December 2008
After seeing Mr. McGrath on the telly, i thought that if i saw his name in print it would be in a sunday tabloid along the lines of "Rory exposed in public park wearing nothing but a dirty mac and shouting watch the birdy".After reading this book i was pleasantly surprised.
His two main loves are his family and his hobby of "twitching". The book is very well written and the descriptions of the sight and sounds of birds are excellent.
It starts with a young Rory trying his best to get laid and falling in love. I couldn't put the book down,i wanted to see if he and JJ got together. It was obvious what JJ was upto,but when your in love, you are blind to what everybody else can see.
About three quarters through the book it got a little boring,i am not really interested in the latin name of birds or what different groups of birds are called, although very handy if your into quizes.
Towards the end Rory very cleverly gets you thinking one thing has happened but it is something else. He has a knack of keeping you guessing.
He does try to make you think that twitchers are better than trainspotters, but i think they are all the same ,just middle aged men with too much time and money and an obsession with lists.
The book is full of humour and very good descriptions of the birds that Rory sees.I think it would appeal not just to twitchers but any one who likes to see birds and who has a sense of humour, with a love story thrown in for good measure.I would have given it full marks,but i did get a little fed up with the latin.
Rory may yet still appear in a tabloid,but if he finds himself with plenty of time to spare i'm sure he could write another excellent book.
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on 13 June 2008
Part autobiography, part birding memoir, this is a light-hearted, funny glimpse into the world of British birdwatching as seen through the eyes of the author, a TV comedian and bird devotee. A great mix of amusing anecdotes, Linnean cleassification and tales of teenage angst, with a denoument that I guarantee will send you off smiling. An excellent book, well worth a read.
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on 10 February 2009
Having seen this author on a number of television programmes, heard him on the radio and seen him locally, I live in Cambridge; this book was predictably entertaining with some wit, but mostly containing the sense of humour that suits my taste. In my opinion Rory McGrath's description of undergraduate life and Cambridge in particular, is very accurate and generates an atmosphere that is easy to relate to. The title and sub-title are both very appropriate, after the book has been read!
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on 7 May 2008
This is a beautiful story - unexpected, superbly written and immensely satisfying! I loved it! I'm a fan of Rory McGrath - he's just hilarious and so cheeky - and as a comedian and a graduate of modern language, the writing was pure comic genius in places. Its touching and earthy. There's suspense and intrigue and romance and surprises! Highly recommended!!!
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on 25 August 2014
Nothing new to add to the recommendations/descriptions of other reviewers, except to say that I didn't know Rory McGrath from the TV so had no preconceived ideas about him. This remained a riveting read and was indeed moving and very personal. Once I'd finished it I was half tempted to go back and re-read the second half of the book, knowing what I now knew, having been enlightened in the last chapter! It also inspired me to get out the house, get down to my local bird reserves and give it a go - rekindling an interest that has waned since marriage and children. (I am female btw). Thank you Rory for writing this heart-warming book. Hope I bump into you in a hide some day.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 4 September 2012
Despite a certain predictable blokeishness, and a couple of swipes at easy targets, this is a very funny, surprisingly moving, and oddly inspiring memoir.
On the one hand, the first section recounts the author`s university days at Cambridge (where this Cornishman now lives) during which he meets, tentatively courts, and falls head over heels for a girl he calls simply "JJ".
On the other hand, it is a book about birdwatching, and a fascinating aspect of this many-sided memoir is its knowledge of and love for birds, in all their variety of species, as well as their names, both English and Latin. In fact, I`d go as far as to say this book could not only interest the sympathetic reader in ornithology, but also Latin and etymology.
The second section of the book fast forwards at least a couple of decades, with Rory now married with two fractious teenage kids. He has been married, but seems to now have a girlfriend called Tori...
And thereby hangs a tale.
It`s a tale that is told with a deceptively offhand humour, hiding a sensitive soul beneath the witticisms and endless punning - birds` names seem to give themselves readily to wordplay. (Shags, tits, hobbies...)
I learnt a lot from Bearded Tit - and from the bearded tit who wrote it - and laughed loud and often. It is also, by the end, genuinely touching. By the time I reached the last page, I felt it amounted to more than the sum of its parts. It`s a book I shall read again one day, I enjoyed it so much.
Thoroughly recommended.
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on 9 August 2009
Rory McGrath excels here in this book of love, life, and birds in all their forms. A book not just for the serious birder or life observer but for the gentle dabbler in both. Also excellent value for money
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on 9 August 2014
Not quite what I expected but very pleased nevertheless. A love story interwoven (or is that intervolv'd) very cleverly with birding anecdotes. I too am a bit of a 'scientific name nerd' and surprised that Rory is too. Very well written with some interesting bird info I'd not known;.(eg. fancy not even supposing that subbuteo would mean lesser buzzard! Rory has a lovely sense of humour and would certainly be on my dinner guest short list, Thank you
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