Cortney's Reviews > Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Second Nature by Michael Pollan
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's review
Jul 24, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

This was written back in '91, before Pollan came into his current status as a food ethics heavy hitter. I have read several of his more recent works- In Defense of Food, among others- and it was refreshing to read this book and compare his earlier work with his more recent. For one, I didn't realize he was such a beautiful prose writer. Nowadays he talks often of ethics and moral frameworks and principles of eating, and fleshing out his philosophy has given his writing a more "kindly professor" type tone. But in this book, there were several passages that made me think "oh, nice turn of phrase, really nice" and a few quotes that I wanted to dog ear, had I not been using the Socialist property of my local library ;) I really liked his section on seed preservation, and the opening chapter regarding his father's relationship to lawn care. Speaking of lawn care, he talks at length about the ways in which American governmental and moral ideals influenced our gardening culture (no really, and it's not as large a stretch as that previous sentence seems, I promise). The book is divided into seasons, which is a nice way of reiterating the gardening theme. It was also voted as one of the 75 best books on gardening, and he was compared by some critics to Mark Twain for his nature writing- again, his prose is excellent and engaging, which is no doubt what sparked such comparison. I have recently had garden success after two previously failed attempts, so the musings on human interactions with nature, gardening culture, and his own successes and failure in the garden were of interest to me and my current situation. But even if you're not interested in gardening at all, his musings on the peripheral aspects of gardening, such as culture, morality, politics, and our interpretations of what it means to be a good steward of nature, would all probably still be good draws.

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