A quirkily entertaining exploration of what it means to be human and what it might be like to be a goat.

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GOATMAN

HOW I TOOK A HOLIDAY FROM BEING HUMAN

What would it be like to be a goat?

Thwaites (The Toaster Project, 2011) explains that his goal was to achieve a “profound shift in perspective” so that he might “look at a chair and [not] automatically associate it with sitting…[and ultimately be able to] look at a(nother) goat and think of it as another person like me.” A 30-something freelance designer still living with his father, the author was at loose ends, still basking in the success of his earlier project building a toaster from scratch. Rather than worrying about his future, he tells us, he decided to explore taking “a holiday from being human” by seeing if he could be accepted by a herd of goats. To achieve this, he designed a goatlike exoskeleton that included prosthetic limbs that prevented him from using his hands. The necessity of checking out his environment without using his hands was one of the more interesting aspects of his major change of perspective. He also committed himself to eating grass, albeit cooked in a pressure cooker over a campfire. Thwaites visited a goat sanctuary in the U.K., where he was able to closely observe their behavior. After practicing on his prosthetic limbs, he felt ready for the last leg of his journey. Walking with his prosthetic limbs was, of course, difficult, but the author notes that adopting a four-legged gait was not an insurmountable challenge. At last, he took the final step; hosted by a Swiss farmer, he joined his herd of goats. They seemed to accept his presence as they grazed on a steep alpine trail, although at one point, they became agitated when he inadvertently challenged their hierarchy. Dozens of photos document his journey from man to goat.

A quirkily entertaining exploration of what it means to be human and what it might be like to be a goat.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61689-405-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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