Friday, August 27, 2021

Michael Pollan's Mind on Plants

Quite a few of Michael Pollan's books have been very appealing to me. 

I didn't enjoy his newest book as much as the earlier ones. This is Your Mind on Plants didn't grab my interest to the same extent, or feel as informative. The book's three chapters are centered mainly on Pollan's own experiences with three plant-derived substances: opium from poppies, caffein from coffee beans, and mescaline from various cactus plants. Yes, he offers historical background about coffee, legal background about the war on drugs (especially regarding poppy cultivation), insights about surviving the pandemic while writing, and cultural background about Native American ceremonies involving mescaline. He makes good points about about non-Natives' participation in such ceremonies, especially his own participation, and about issues of cultural appropriation. But he is at the center of everything. It's not a bad book: just OK!

Pollan's books that I like the most were mainly published at least a decade ago. I feel as if I learned much more from reading them. They included much more interesting research, for example, his studies of the life and times of Johnny Appleseed and his interviews with experts about baking bread and making fermented foods to name just a couple of themes. The books I most enjoyed:

  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World. 2001.
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. 2006.
  • In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. 2008.
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. 2013. (Also a Netflix series)
Blog post/review © 2021 mae sander.


My name is Erika. said...

This one caught my eye the other day. I've read The Botany of Desire and loved it. If this is similar then I bet it is good. Thanks for recommending.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

When I first saw the title of the book, I assumed he was going to be talking about improving brain chemistry on a plant-based type diet. So funny we all have our own filters. I was surprised when I read your review. Thanks Mae

Gretchen said...

Interesting. I have read a couple of his books and didn't realize he had a new one out. Thanks for the review!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I was curious about his latest book so I appreciate your review Mae.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I've enjoyed Michael Pollan's books in the past, too, so I have considered reading this one several times. I think, after considering your thoughts, I will pass on it, and perhaps read instead one of his other books I've not yet read.

I think it was Pollan who first opened my eyes about food. I wish more people would read his work.

JoAnn said...

I've enjoyed Pollan's books, too, and have read them all except The Botany of Desire. Sorry his latest wasn't quite as appealing. I'll probably give it a try eventually.

Elza Reads said...

I've read The Signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert a couple of years back and then realized that I know nothing about botany. Might be good to learn a thing or two.

Have a good week Mae.

Elza Reads

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I've always said my drug of choice is caffeine, primarily from coffee. However, I would never put caffeine in the same category as opioids! Nice review.