How To Be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes book review

how-to-be-a-bad-birdwatcherThis book describes the wonders of birdwatching and that birdwatching is easily available to anyone with a pair of binoculars and a window. Barnes also goes onto to describe and give us, the readers, a plethora of information on birds. The book is not part of a series meaning you can fully understand Simon’s journey.

I found this to be a witty and charming book. It focuses on the world of birdwatching in a way that very few people would think of. It has a great introduction to birdwatching and environmental action with a great sense of humour. Most of the book contained some tense, mysterious scenes on the voyage to catch the Goldcrest, for example, which is one of the rarest birds in England. The story kept me guessing from page to page on how Simon and his friend, Bob tracked the erratic movements of the Sparrowhawk considering its speedy movements across the countryside. I enjoyed most parts of the book and some parts made me feel quite upset due to the slowly increasing figure of birds becoming extinct. For example, Simon Barnes’ describes species such as the cuckoo and the turtledove decreasing to a staggering 90% in their populations.

Although Simon describes birds in a humorous and wonderful way, there a few criticisms and downfalls about the book. One of them would be that some chapters felt very stretched and boring. Simon could have easily summed up his journey in one or two pages, if he focused on the main statements that was made. Most people, also, seemed to agree on the book being a little too simple. Normal people, like you and me, would pick up the book thinking it would be full of scientific knowledge about birds and habitats but we are sort of tricked into thinking that. One of my favourite parts of the book was when Simon referred to a bird by their scientific name, eg Fringilla coelebs is a Chaffinch. But, scientific names were mentioned very rarely in this book and they should have been elaborated more. Another disadvantage of the book is that it felt like an autobiography. Most people enjoy that, considering they have watched Simon’s programs on TV. But for a person who doesn’t know the author at all, and speaks about his past experiences relating to his programs, not many people know what he is trying to state.

To sum up the book, if you are interested in a humorous, non-scientific, engaging, detailed and are more invested with the author type book, How To Be a Bad Birdwatcher is the right book for you! I would rate this book 8/10.

Fyqa Qureshi


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