Book review: Entangled Life: How fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures
Be prepared to be amazed as you enter the world of fungi, from yeast to psychedelics, mycelial networks to metabolic masters. You’ll learn about fungal worm-hunting and zombie fungi (a group of fungi that hijack the bodies of insects to spread their spores). You’ll accompany your most-qualified guide, writer and biologist Merlin Sheldrake, as he roots for valuable esculents (like the Piedmont white truffle), and participates in clinical drug-testing with LSD, which, like psilocybin, is a fungal molecule, or is derived from one. Sheldrake’s pure and unadulterated excitement for fungi (mushrooms being just the “fruit” of the fungi), is so palpable that it’s impossible not to get carried away with him. He has spent countless weeks, on his knees in a rainforest, searching for tiny flowers that, having lost their ability to photosynthesize, have survived because of their fungal partners. The book includes illuminating color photographs and scientific illustrations, over 50 pages of notes, an extensive bibliography, and a complete index. Non-scientific readers will absolutely appreciate reading it, and learning about, for instance, adaptive evolutionary behaviors, like, it is widely agreed that, “only by striking up new relationships with fungi that algae were able to make it onto land.” Before there were roots, there were fungi.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
The Best Non-required Reading, Non-Fiction
Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl, by Jonathan C. Slaght
A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future, by David Attenborough
The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking), by Katie Mack
The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World, by Patrik Svensson
Fathoms: The World in the Whale, by Rebecca Giggs
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think, by Jennifer Ackerman
The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science, by Seb Falk
Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
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