Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review What It Feels Like (16 of 100)

This book is a series of essays that try to answer all those questions that begin "I wonder what it would be like if.." and involve some sort of outlandish activity you would never actually attempt. Each essay is written by a different journalist and are, at most, four pages long. This is ideal bedtime reading, except the stories are so exciting you may have trouble stopping after just one. I know this is what happened to me. This book is edited by A.J. Jacobs, who I'm becoming a bit obsessed with. He also writes the prologue. Some of the stories included here are what it feels like to be in an orgy, what if it feels like to outrun a volcano, how it feels to be gored by a bull, how it feels to be a hitman, and how it feels to die.

Whatever your interest, they probably have it covered here. My favorite story was the guy who survived the volcano. Tomas Mather is now a 22-year-old married college student. He and some friends of his, including the girl he would later married whom he met just the day before, were in Guatemala when the volcano went off. The top of their van was pelted with lava rocks that left permanent dents in it. I still think that's a great story to tell your grandkids. Think about it, if they hadn't run fast enough, none of the future generation would be there. I think it's terribly romantic.

Of course, in every book like this, you have to find someone who makes you think "What the hell were you on when you decided to do that?!" For me, Geoffrey Petkovich is that person. Said idiot and his friends went over to Niagara Falls in a barrel. This is illegal, by the way. They actually had to sneak the barrel up to the Falls and into the water. Amazingly, they were basically uninjured. Still, I wouldn't recommend this practice.

The section I found most interesting was part six--what it feels like to have an extreme body. They dealt with really tall people, really short people, really fat people, transgender people, people with cosmetic implants, and people who starve themselves to prove a point. I don't much go in for the 'day in the life of a disabled person' kind of article because I know that most able-bodied people do not have access to the communities of support that disabled people develop for themselves. This, I feel, makes them think our own experience is horrible and horrifying. Even with these opinions, this section still fascinated me. Maybe there is more value than I thought in 'day in the life of a disabled person' experiences or maybe I was just feeling particularly voyeuristic when I read that section.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10. I liked the shortness of each tale, but at times, wanted more details. You can't have it both ways. Again, this book a really goof bedtime read. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

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