My second 20BooksOfSummer book, read alongside “Tahiti” as I thought that one might contain not-suitable-for-mealtimes passages (in fact, this one was more likely to in the end!). The picture is from the post in October 218 where I shared the books I’d bought in Penzance, and I’m pleased to say I have now read three of them, with “Rising Ground” coming up on the 20BooksOfSummer TBR very soon, so well done, me.

Alex Horne – “Birdwatchingwatching”

(12 October 2018. charity shop, Penzance)

Horne is known to us as the writer and co-presenter of “Taskmaster”, a TV show we really enjoy, and I wish I’d realised he’d done a stand-up show based on this year of birdwatching, but the book was a real treat anyway.

A really sweet book about Horne doing a Big Year of birdwatching, which basically involves spending a year seeing as many bird species as you can (with some rules – none in captivity mainly), in competition with his dad, in order to learn something more about his dad’s hobby and prepare himself for not-yet-impending fatherhood. He’s a gentle and timid soul, in awe of ‘real men’ who know things about trees and nature and can mend things, and it’s a nice read as he discovers birds and the birding community – he discusses a couple of other books on birdwatching sociology I have on my TBR, which made me think I should have read them first (but I bought them in 2019!).

It was odd and a bit uncomfortable-feeling that the year in question was the year when the bird flu pandemic hit the world, not quite along the lines of this current one of course, but there were enough parallels to be a bit uneasy! But anyway, he experiences all the joys and frustrations of birdwatching and indulges in a bit of proper twitching (something I have only done once which involved a walk of about a mile, and which he finds both exciting and boring). I loved the descriptions of his mum’s experience of a birding holiday (it was nice, but …) which echo my own, although everyone seems to have enjoyed Bird Fair in Rutland more than I did the one time we went! His frustration with a million seemingly identical warblers was something I could identify with, too.

So a nice and warm book, gently funny with some read-out-loud moments and I’m hoping Matthew will find time to read this paperback as he will enjoy it, too.

This was Book 2 in my 20BooksOfSummer project.