Being a Beast

Front Cover
Profile, Jan 28, 2016 - Nature - 218 pages

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2016

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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PDCRead - LibraryThing

Have you ever wondered just what it would be like to be an eagle soaring on thermals or a stag surveying your territory? Some of us may have whilst walking in the countryside or over a contemplative ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - annahesser - LibraryThing

This is definitely the most "different" book I've read in a long while, and it took a bit to get into it, but once I did I was fascinated. A good read if you're interested in a mostly unsentimental ... Read full review

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About the author (2016)

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. www.charlesfoster.co.uk

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