Goodreads and Librarything often seeking out interesting books that I might otherwise not stumble across even with all the resources at my disposal as a librarian. I am always so thrilled to read a "sleeper" that just captures my imagination whether it be fiction or non-fiction. One that definitely intrigued and frankly unsettled me is Life List by Olivia Gentile.
This is a biography about a woman named Phoebe Snetsinger who, at 34 years of age, set out on a walk behind her house, an activity suggested by a neighbour. What she discovered was a Blackburnian Warbler with a blazing orange throat. In her words, "I had never seen anything like it. And at the same time, I realized that the bird had probably been in the trees in my own backyard every spring I'd been alive." It was, as she described "like a blinding white light", as profound as a religious awakening, bringing intense joy, lifting her from the frustrations of her life and ultimately changing it irreovacably in both good and bad ways. She became frankly obsessed with birds almost to the exclusion of everything else in her life including her family. At the time of her death, she had recorded seeing 8398 species of birds worldwide! She actually passed away in a car accident while in Madagascar, chasing down a little peach-and-green bird called an Appert's Greenbul, that had been found and named only three years earlier. This is a fascinating read and an extraordinary woman.