BOOK: "The Year of the Goat," by Margaret Hathaway (Lyons Press, $22.95)
TARGET AUDIENCE: The part in each of us that yearns for a simpler life.
Anyone who has watched someone fall in love will recognize the symptoms: It's sweet; it's naive; it's insane; it's contagious. But what Hathaway and Karl Schatz, her fiance (and photographer), have fallen for is the idea of raising goats. Knowing little about goats except that they like the cheese, they give up comfortable jobs and urban lives to reinvent themselves as farmers. (As one established farmer tells them, "Goats just might save the American agricultural tradition.") They're so obsessive they even plan a goat-themed wedding.
At least they have the sense to do some research about their new love. In the "year" of the title, they traverse 43 states -- visiting dairies, observing ritual halal slaughter and trekking in Wyoming, using goats as pack animals. And eating lots of cheese. Traveling cheaply (they're unemployed, remember), they camp, sleep in their car or, often, are put up for the night by hospitable farmers.
-- Jerry V. Haines