Arts & Leisure

Book review: This Is Your Mind On Plants — by Michael Pollan

(Penguin Press)

In his distinctive journalistic form, Michael Pollan, food writer and garden sage, takes a closer look at three plant “drugs” humans use to alter our consciousness: opium, caffeine, and mescaline. Given the focused scope of this book, I was amazed the wealth of information presented wasn’t even exhaustive — I’d consume an entire book by Pollan on any one of these plants. I put drugs in quotations earlier because it seems Pollan isn’t fully committed to calling them that. He delves into the classifications of illicit drugs, explaining how governments tend to label drugs illicit when the altered state they produce is counterproductive to society’s (read capitalist society’s) proper workings and machinations. The botany behind these plants is as fascinating in Pollan’s telling as the experimentations he did, in the name of research, to delve into clinical aspects and results of ingestion. I did really appreciate, and admire, that this book was written in real time over the course of the pandemic, and the impacts and insights that Pollan gleans along the way are shared in the writing of this book. I found it very informative and very entertaining, and I would recommend it to any curious reader and every Pollan fan.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


11 Life Sciences Books Newly Published

Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard

Why Fish Don’t Exist, by Lulu Miller

Breath, by James Nestor

The Heartbeat of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben

The Hummingbirds’ Gift, by Sy Montgomery

World of Wonders, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake

A World on the Wing, by Scott Weidensaul

How to Love Animals, by Henry Mance

Below the Edge of Darkness, by Edith Widder

The Arbornaut, by Meg Lowman

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