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GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human (one man's journey to leave humanity behind and become like a goat)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The dazzling success of The Toaster Project, including TV appearances and an international book tour, leaves Thomas Thwaites in a slump. His friends increasingly behave like adults, while Thwaites still lives at home, "stuck in a big, dark hole." Luckily, a research grant offers the perfect out: a chance to take a holiday from the complications of being human—by transformi ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Princeton Architectural Press (first published April 12th 2016)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  341 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Start your review of GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human (one man's journey to leave humanity behind and become like a goat)
Ed Erwin
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: men who stare at goats
Shelves: humor, science, memoir
The title and images look a bit insane, but this is quite interesting and entertaining. It should appeal to fans, like me, of pop-science books by Mary Roach.

Basically, an artist gets a bit tired of modern life and wonders if he can escape it all. Can he find a way to live in the moment the way a wild animal does? Since he's an artist, he applies for a grant to try to turn himself into an elephant and cross the alps. When he wins the grant, he has to actually try to do it.

He quickly switches pla
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well thought out and honest attempt at being a goat. Learned a lot while following his research and prep.

I feel a bit foolish for being demanding towards someone willing to take on such an arduous task, but I would've liked a bit more detail about how it felt to be a goat in lieu of a few of the jokes. Perhaps a night in the pen or a few more days as a goat beyond the migration?
Christina Mott
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After reading just the introduction I was pulled into Thomas' story of becoming GoatMan. He is absolutely hilarious and entertaining and I've already recommended this to multiple friends. There are some chapters that might make you squirm a bit, like the chapter on goat "guts" but I did find it all really fascinating! Goats are much more complex than I knew and Thomas helped give them some more street cred. Thomas is down to Earth and a real person trying to unplug a little from our daily stress ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, animalia, 2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Hilton
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Look, this book and the Mr. Thwaites who wrote it are uber-weird. How to follow up his should-have-been-a-sensation, The Toaster Project, in which the author smelts his own metal in attempting to make a working toaster from scratch? Why not strive to live less anxiously by actually trying to become a goat? If this sounds crazy, it is. But, you know I don't like non-fiction and you may know I'm not at all into science. This book is both and I still love it. If you aren't a bit off like I am, crui ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
His writing style is decent, and the story of getting to the point where he could be a goat was interesting, but the whole premise of this project was to take time off from being human. Not only was this barely attempted, it was barely written about and not at all reflected upon at completion. I expected at least a little acknowledgement of what he had set out to do and whether he had indeed managed to forget his human worries, content that is almost explicitly promised in the subtitle! But the ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Wow. Well, as I mentioned when I first started reading this book, where do I start?

We start with our unemployed friend, who seems to have an affinity for Victorian literature. I assume this because he uses "gentle reader" quite a lot. Perhaps a bit too much. No, definitely too much. Twenty years ago, I read a book by Erica Jong -- Fear of Flying. Erica uses "Gentle Reader" once, in a sentence that made such an impact I can still recite it verbatim today. This guys tosses it around I am assuming
☆ Mira ✷
Jun 25, 2018 marked it as no-thanks
As a child, you think your parents are right about everything and have good judgement. But when your mom fangirls about a memoir she dragged out of a sewer checked out from the library about a man who took a vacation from human life by prosthetically turning himself into a goat on a research grant for #science, you really question your entire upbringing.

(but my upbringing was based on libraries, even whichever ones carry this nonsense, so I still appreciate it)
Jake Goretzki
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
3.5. Self-evidently daft, but infectiously likeable and good humoured; measured enough to strike 'funny' without being annoying (my favourite line was about the investigation revealing that the deceased final meal was: grass).

The innocence of the method makes it deceptively simple, I think: it's actually more philosophical and polymath than meets the eye.

You know who would gain from this sort of approach? Jaded young adults and science-phobes like my (younger) self. If mitosis and meiosis had
Lia Hunt
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
A truly wonderful and unusual book that asks the question of what it is to be human by becoming as goat-like as possible in a quest to get out from under our worries about the meaning and purpose of our existence. Thomas Thwaites covers a broad range of topics in his 'experiment', from shamanism to science to philosophy to design -- with just the right amount of self-deferential humor amidst the Big Question to make this a thoroughly engaging book. ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Quirky designer Thomas Thwaites has written an interesting book about how he tried to live as a goat for a brief spell to get away from the stresses and strains of being a human. There's plenty about the build-up to the main 'event' - fascinating stuff about the physical and cognitive differences between man and goat - but little about the actual time he spent with his four-legged friends. Nevertheless, a very readable, amusing and curious book. ...more
Jo O'Donnell
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bizarre yet charming. A British design artist submits a project to 'get away from human care' and live as an animal. His first choice, the elephant, falling through, he decides upon living for some time as a domesticated goat and then crossing the Alps. As a goat.

Thwaites takes the reader through the intricacies of goat behavior and anatomy with a surprising amount of fun and an array of highly accomplished (and bemused) scientists, physicians, and designers helping him along his way.
Jun 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I'll admit, I picked up this book because it seemed absurd and hilarious and I was not disappointed! While being really genuinely funny, it was incredibly informational and I know a lot more about the lives of goats than ever before. It's a quick read and I would recommend picking it up.

Warning: some of the pictures are a bit graphic, so bear that in mind if you're squeamish.
Kathy W
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Engaging but lacking revelatory details

I first found out about this goat man project from a science blog and was curious to learn more about the endeavor. While I was pleasantly surprised by some of the details about the prepatory process, I think I was hoping for a bit more discussion on the scientific, emotional, and philosophical implications of this undertaking
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
I actually really enjoyed this book but I was pretty dissapointed that the "Goatlife" chapter was mostly just pictures. That is the main event! ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Five stars for the ending and the goat pictures.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I LOVE GOATMAN! Ideo promotes the idea of a T-shaped designer. That's a person with deep knowledge in one or more areas and a little bit of knowledge about everything. Goatman delivers T-shaped knowledge. If you want to know something about everything, learn everything about how to become a goat!

Putting aside the fact that Thwaites is incredibly relatable and funny, the sheer bredth of fascinating information he explores and the depth to which he explores it is really rewarding. He could easily
Abbie Simons
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was curious, okay?

This was a fun, though at times bland, short read. With pictures!

I was expecting it to describe the actual experience of being a goat, the goat-trek itself, more than just the experiments and preparations leading up to the trek, but I was satisfied nonetheless. I learned a lot about goats and animals and design, more so than I expected. I actually didn't even realize that this book would be a sort of project summary about the attempt to design a "GoatMan" apparatus, I just w
Zach Lansbury
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book Bingo Category: I would never read that!
Pages: 207

Summary: GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, is a funny and interesting book. When I saw this book, I originally thought that it was a joke. Surely no one actually wants to become a goat. Well I was wrong. The book is about Thomas Thwaites and his adventures designing, building, and living in a goat suit. The book explains why he wants to do what hes doing, and actually makes it understandable. It also goes in depth in how his co
Stephen Sagarin
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's not really a book about becoming a goat, folks. It's a book about what it means to be human. To consider thinking (or not thinking), perceiving, eating, moving like a goat means reflecting on the gulf between humans and goats when it comes to thinking, perceiving, eating, moving... That said, it's not as successful as The Toaster Project because 1.) It's a lot harder to consider and play with the things that distinguish humans from (other) animals than it is (hard as this was) to consider w ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely one of the quirkiest books I've ever read. When the bookseller recommended it to me, I was fairly skeptical -- but I liked all of his other recommendations, so I gave it a try. This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. Thwaites has decided it would nice to escape the pressures of being a human and the best way to do that would be to experience life as an elephant. Elephants turn out to be rather complicated, so after consulting a shaman, he decides a goat i ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
The focus of this book is the "how" in the subtitle. Only 12 pages out of 183 are about his experience living as a goat. The rest of the book is about how he attempts to design his way into a more goat-like state. It turns out this is practically impossible — because of the way goats and humans use their brains differently, the required body-structure modifications, and reproducing a gut capable of digesting grass — but our author manages to kind of pull it off (except for changing the workings ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this is the best book in the whole entire world. i wish that i could marry thomas thwaites and raise a loving family of goat children with him.

although the buildup to the event was magnificent, i do wish there was more about him actually being a goat rather than just the last few pages. the fact that he made a best goat friend while traversing the alps was adorable. also, he intended to give himself a goat-poo enema so that he could break down the enzymes required to digest grass. that's true de
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I really loved Thwaites’ last book, so I had higH expectations for this one. It progressed as I expected, with his usual quarky but thorough investigation into topics I’ve never even thought about having thoughts about (which is part of what I love about his writing). But I have to say the end of the book really disappointed me. There was significant build up to the climax of this book, but then there was a lack of conclusions (academic, not physical) at the end. It’s still a fun and interesting ...more
Seb Wocial
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
“A wave of relief and gratitude floods over me. Relief because of narrowly avoiding being proclaimed a sheep. Gratitude because with a goat I know Annette has gotten it absolutely right. A goat - a goat is so much more my level.”

If you like unique and wildly different books on design; Thwaites completely immerses himself in the process of becoming a goat and takes the reader on a informative, intriguing, and humorous journey.
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very silly and great fun.

If you enjoyed

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
Godfrey-Smith, Peter this is on similar 'kinds of minds' territory if a bit more daft.

John Higgs 'Stranger than we can Imagine' I think would also appeal to people who like GoatMan
Belle Beth Cooper
The start of this book was really good. It made me laugh a lot. The majority of it was a bit dry, but it still had occasional laughs. The ending was terrible. It felt like a chunk of the book was missing, because it just stopped. I almost gave it 2 stars because of the terrible—missing—ending, but I went with a weak 3 stars instead.
Scott M
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Meh. A few funny moments. A friend at work gave it to me, I can't quite believe he paid £14.99 for it. Also, the version I read had a lot of spelling mistakes and typos which I thought was unusual. The final part where he is actually living as a goat is particularly rushed and just sort of ends and there is no reflection on his journey or anything. ...more
Andrew Otis
Nov 25, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting idea - I've definitely been in the same boat with regard to getting academic funding only to have my project change and not knowing how to inform the funders. Writing style is casual, humorous, sometimes breaks the 4th wall. Author seems to have abandoned the project after one day of being a goat in the field. ...more
Mary Whisner
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quirky memoir and goat adventure

When I'm in a certain mood I enjoy a quirky memoir by someone who does something unusual--say, reading the OED or traveling to China to find a kidney for a cousin. This one hit the spot: the author is good company and offers a nice mix of science and design.
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“So really, to want to become a goat is pretty standard. In fact, historically speaking, it’s almost odder to not want to become a goat.” 0 likes
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