Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Living things have always had to make their way in a wild garden of flowers and vines, of leaves and trees and fungi that hold out not only nourishing things to eat but deadly poisons, too. Nothing is more important to a creature's survival than knowing which is which, yet drawing a bright line through the middle of the garden, as the God of Genesis found, doesn't always work. The difficulty is that there are plants that do other, more curious things than simply sustain or extinguish life. Some heal; others rouse or calm or quiet the body's pain. But most remarkable of all, there are plants in the garden that manufacture molecules with the power to change the subjective experience of reality we call consciousness.
A great little book looking at four plants and how they have affected us humans as well as vice versa. The plants are the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato, and their respective desires a sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control. The best chapter is probably the third, on marijuana, which looks at how the War On Drugs has actually forced producers to innovate genetically and geographically, to the point that the marijuana now available is way stronger than you could get before the government started to crack down on its possession. But I found myself flicking to Wikipedia to check all kinds of other facts, such as the Kazakh origin of the apple tree, and the lack of genetic diversity among domesticated potatoes (which made the Irish population of the 1840s so vulnerable to a single fungus). Lots of tasty sweet stuff. Recommended. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired last year (one of Anne's Christmas presents) and my top unread non-fiction book. Next on those lists respectively are The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters, and Becoming, by Michelle Obama.
Tags: bookblog 2019

  • American Beauty

    American Beauty won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1998, and four others: Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Original…

  • Shakespeare in Love

    Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1997, and six others - Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench,…

  • Titanic

    Titanic won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1996, and equalled both the record of fourteen nominations set by All About Eve, and the record of…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.