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Being a Beast

by Charles Foster

Biography / Autobiography eBooks of the Month The Real World

LoveReading View on Being a Beast

We can never truly know what it is like to be another species and experience their lives as they search for food, or kill and be killed – but Charles Foster has gone further than most in trying to capture that elusive experience. Through following Swifts, Red Deer, Otters, Badgers and Foxes, observing, trying to live as they do he manages to rent small tears in the barriers between us. His approach to natural history brings shocks and surprises, an otter's intense driving metabolism, why British and European badgers differ in behaviours, how deer live without their wolf predator, how Swifts, Swallows and House Martin inhabit different levels of the sky in their hunt for insects rising up the eddies and columns of air.  Safe to say this unusual, intimate and passionate attempt to connect with nature is unlike anything else you'll read this year. ~ Sue Baker

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Sue Baker

Being a Beast Synopsis

Charles Foster wanted to know what it was like to be a beast: a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, a swift. What it was really like. And through knowing what it was like he wanted to get down and grapple with the beast in us all. So he tried it out; he lived life as a badger for six weeks, sleeping in a dirt hole and eating earthworms, he came face to face with shrimps as he lived like an otter and he spent hours curled up in a back garden in East London and rooting in bins like an urban fox. A passionate naturalist, Foster realises that every creature creates a different world in its brain and lives in that world. As humans, we share sensory outputs, lights, smells and sound, but trying to explore what it is actually like to live in another of these worlds, belonging to another species, is a fascinating and unique neuro-scientific challenge. For Foster it is also a literary challenge. Looking at what science can tell us about what happens in a fox's or badger's brain when it picks up a scent, he then uses this to imagine their world for us, to write it through their eyes or rather through the eyes of Charles the beast. An intimate look at the life of animals, neuroscience, psychology, nature writing, memoir and more, it is a journey of extraordinary thrills and surprises, containing wonderful moments of humour and joy, but also providing important lessons for all of us who share life on this precious planet.

Being a Beast Press Reviews

'Transcendentally eccentric nature writing of the first order. Charles Foster digs deep under the skin of other animals, uncovering gems of wisdom that our usually superficial gaze will otherwise miss' -- Hugh Warwick

'Gleefully lascivious in its physical curiosity, Being a Beast advocates for our highest animality by expanding our sensory intelligence. A flabbergasting, thunderstriking, stupendous, brilliant book' -- Jay Griffiths

'Thrilling, brilliant, bonkers... a strange kind of masterpiece: the song of a satyr, perhaps, or nature writing as extreme sport.' Financial Times

'Charles Foster's chronicle of the sensory lives of beasts and his own forays into self re-wilding is like nothing you have ever read. Deeply serious and at times laugh-out-loud funny, this is an extraordinary book.' -- Caspar Henderson

'Unimaginably different from any book you have ever read - an exploration of our deep kinship with animals that is thought-provoking, funny and full of adventure all at once, brilliantly written, and sparkling with ideas' -- Iain McGilchrist

'Foster is funny and profound and his empathic mission shows our kinship with other species' -- Patrick Barkham Guardian

'Extraordinary... very funny... Foster is well read and writes beautifully.' The Sunday Times

'A wild and whimsical memoir.' The Times

'Takes nature writing to new levels... his work is a triumph.' -- Kate Green, Country Life

'Very funny... hones senses long neglected... Mr Foster is the real thing, going truly feral and in the process discovering a whole new world. It is not a midlife crisis so much as a lifelong passion.' Economist

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781781255353
Publication date: 04/08/2016
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781781255353
Publication date: 04/02/2016
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781781255353
Publication date: 4th August 2016
Author: Charles Foster
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 256 pages
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites, The Real World,
Categories: Memoirs, Wildlife: general interest,

About Charles Foster

Charles Foster is a Fellow at the University of Oxford. Much of his life has been spent on expeditions; he has run a 150 mile race in the Sahara, skied to the North Pole, and 'bled in many beautiful and desolate landscapes'. He has written or contributed to over thirty-five books on subjects including travel, evolutionary biology, natural history, anthropology and philosophy.

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