Being a Beast

Being a Beast

3.2 (1,451 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.2 (1,451 ratings by Goodreads)

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 27mm | 421g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • B&W integrated
  • 1781255342
  • 9781781255346
  • 179,580

Review quote

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 * A unique and wonderful book. Foster's writing is elegant, and his marvellous sense of humour is displayed throughout...In every step he takes we are privileged to witness the workings of a highly unusual, and rather remorseless, intelligence. -- Mark Rowlands * Times Literary Supplement * A profound meditation on our relationship with the natural world ... Being a Beast fairly leaps over the human/animal divide, giving us not only a more profound understanding of the rich and sensual worlds of the animals we share the planet with, but also telling us more about what it is to be human. * Alex Preston, Observer * A rich, joyful and inspiring book that reminds us that the creatures with whom we share the planet are at least as important, and as remarkable, as us * Independent * Illuminating and unfailingly entertaining, this book is a tour de force of modern nature writing, and shows us how to better love the world beyond ourselves * Guardian * An exquisitely strange, often hilarious chronicle ... A bold, unsettling try at comprehending the rest of life on Earth * Nature * Fascinating, funny * Spectator * Brilliantly original * Evening Standard * The badger chapter alone is worth the price of admission. * Ira Glass *
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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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Rating details

1,451 ratings
3.2 out of 5 stars
5 16% (233)
4 26% (373)
3 30% (439)
2 18% (267)
1 10% (139)
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