Carmen's Reviews > The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
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's review
Jun 22, 2011

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bookshelves: audio
Read in June, 2011

Through a natural history of four different plants (the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato), Pollan discusses how plants control and select us, just as much as we control and manipulate them; they also serve as a mirror for human desire (like Adam & Eve's original forbidden fruit). His drawing a connection between Plato's ideals and psychotropic drug use was interesting, and the Apollo/Dionysus dichotomy mentioned throughout the stories was good, although a little bit overdone by the end. Organic farming and genetically modified produce is also mentioned, and it's not a pretty picture. Pollan's tone is a bit too wry and self-conscious for my liking, although I listened to the audiobook and the narrator had a very affected manner, so that may have been the issue. I think this book is better suited to actually being read, preferably with a pencil in hand, otherwise the nuances of each plant's specific journey may escape notice. Check out Stevie Wonder's beautiful "The Secret Life of Plants" soundtrack and Wallace Stevens' "Anecdote of a Jar" poem for a shortcut.

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