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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  16,613 ratings  ·  2,498 reviews
There is a lifeform so strange and wondrous that it forces us to rethink how life works…

Neither plant nor animal, it is found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. It can be microscopic, yet also accounts for the largest organisms ever recorded, living for millennia and weighing tens of thousands of tonnes. Its ability to digest rock enabled the first life on land,
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by Random House
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Nicole Fantastic Fungi is more of a coffee table book - not something you read from start to finish. It's basically a book that provides extra information fo…moreFantastic Fungi is more of a coffee table book - not something you read from start to finish. It's basically a book that provides extra information for the documentary. Entangled Life is definitely written to be delivered in book form. It reads like a typical non-fiction book. I thought it was very interesting but also a lot of "work" in places.(less)
Harry The illustrations are adequate but not essential because the text is so well written. I was able to search the net on key words and find a wealth of s…moreThe illustrations are adequate but not essential because the text is so well written. I was able to search the net on key words and find a wealth of supporting illustrations, videos, and text. (less)

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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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Okay, before I even get into this review, how perfect is this guy's name? Not only does he study mushrooms, he has a name like a professor in one of the Harry Potter books. Which is perfect, since mushrooms do have a bit of a reputation for being mysterious, sinister, and even kind of spooky. Which, if you read this book, you'll find out is a reputation that they totally deserve.

ENTANGLED LIFE is all about fungi (because they're fun, guy
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have always found mushrooms magical. The way they suddenly appear overnight after a rainstorm amazes me. Walk down a forest path one day and see nothing. The next morning, suddenly you encounter hundreds of them. Bright or dull, colourful or drab, they are everywhere you look.

But where do they come from and how do they burst through the ground, fully formed, overnight? 

What I didn't know before reading this book, aside from how they appear like magic, is that mushrooms are the fruit of fungi.
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
4.5 This book is a perfect length for the content - just enough to feel sated - and it’s organized into sections of thought, from:

1) how mushroom trips can rewire the neural pathways in your brain to alleviate depression, anxiety and addiction, and inspire creativity and new ways to solve problems; to:

2) a section on the environment and how fungi could save our planet by both decomposing toxic waste, and composing organic materials to replace leather and wood, in addition to possibly saving our
I have a life-long love for and fascination with mushrooms. Partially because they are delicious, but I also remember finding them almost magical when I was a kid: they could appear overnight, had the strangest shapes, colors and textures. In my mind, they were almost like alien plants. Later, I learned a little bit about their complex interconnectedness, their adaptability and strange reproduction method – and that only made them more fascinating!

Merlin Sheldrake’s book is an engrossing, entert
Hazel Bright
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Yeah, I'm married to a professor, so if I want to have someone tell me the same thing seventeen different ways for hours on end, I will just have dinner with my husband. ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, biology
Some books deserve all the stars in the world, Entangled Life being one of them. I’ve read quite a few science books so far, and in each of them I have found something to fascinate me. But none of them managed to immerse me so deeply into it like this one.

Fungi must be the most incredible subject out there, along with universe and brain, due to their similar structure.* The book has 229 pages (the rest are notes and bibliography) and it took me more than two weeks to finish it. And that’s becau
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I love mushrooms (maybe I’ll upload the beautiful ones I’ve seen in the woods) Anyway, I leaned things I thought was cool and never could have believed. Some was not so cool 😬

For me, this isn’t a book I could just sit down and plow through as I have a tiny brain, but I did enjoy it. I’m going to put it on my shelf in my mushroom booksleeve

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Jul 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology
Entangled Life is a well-chosen title. These two words perfectly describe this book. While it is about fungi, Sheldrake delivers a much broader message. One about relationships and the perspectives we adopt to see those relationships. These are not relationships between people but relationships between different forms of life: Fungi, microbes, plants and animals including humans. We see how the world we know depends on these relationships, and the critical role fungi play in these relationships. ...more
Luca Tanaka
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"We commonly think of animals and plants as matter, but they are really systems through which matter is constantly passing."

Things that delighted me:
– 2 citations from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, which everyone should also read
– a quoted passage from Galadriel in LOTR and the newfound knowledge that J.R.R. Tolkein was a consumer of mycelial research
– illustrations rendered in ink made of mushrooms

"Our descriptions warp and deform the phenomena we describe, but sometimes th
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Lots of drawn-out writing, especially about anthropomorphization and linguistic issues. Not so much science. Do we have the wrong metaphors for fungi and plants? I couldn't care less. It is easy to write about, but not very scientifically productive.

Furthermore, even when it comes to science, every point is drawn out excessively, and the author gives a completely non-critical summary of lots of well-known phenomena. For example, fungal networks for computation. This is something that should be
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Let's start with some music, appropriately "Women Gathering Mushrooms", a recording of the Aka people living in the forests of the Central African Republic. It's an example of musical polyphony. Polyphony is singing more than one part, or telling more than one story, at the same time. Unlike the harmonies in a barbershop quartet, the voices of the women never weld into a unified front. No voice surrenders its individual identity. Nor does any one voice steal the show. There is no front woman, no ...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Winner of the 2021 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation

A fascinating exploration of fungi with chapters on:

Truffles/mushrooms – as the edible fruiting bodies but also most obvious manifestations of fungi

Mycelium – the living labyrinths of fungi

Lichens – a fascinating chapter which explores their existence as a symbiotic relationship (now often called mutualism) between a fungus and an alga

Mycelial minds – which explores the halluceogenic properties of fungi

Before roots – which des
Michael || TheNeverendingTBR
This book was very interesting and has basically changed my overall outlook of the living world. 🍄

It's well written and full of insights into the diverse lives of fungi.

I never thought that fungi could be so fascinating.

One of those fascinating things was, there's zombie fungi, that can take control of insect minds. Yea really.

I implore you to go and read this mesmerising book.

For what this book sets out to do, it fulfills all criteria and that's why I've given it...⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Feb 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, nature
[15 Feb 2021]
This is a rambling but fascinating paean to fungi. The author is very enthusiastic about the subject, especially mycorrhizal networks, and makes them interesting to the reader. His style is accessible and clear. But the organization of the book is somewhat lacking. It's as though you were sitting with an expert on a subject and just talking. He moves from one topic to another, with interspersed personal anecdotes, but without clear logic. I enjoyed the book on the whole but there we
Bob (aka Bobby Lee)
Jun 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
by Merlin Sheldrake. Hardcover, 366 pages, pub. 2020 by Random House

I read this book as a favor to someone who promised me that I would thank them when I was done. Well, I'm glad I read it because after all these years I still learned a few things.

I knew a little about flora and fauna. I knew something about deciduous and conifers; a little about pollination and germination; and a little something about photosynthesis
Dennis Mckenna
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Merlin Sheldrake, the author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future, kindly sent me an advance copy and asked for comment. It is due to be published this May by Random House.
One might naturally be inclined to form certain assumptions about someone named Merlin. That they are a wizard, perhaps, or at least capable of casting spells. I don’t know if he is a wizard, but what I can tell you is that he has written an enchanting book. It has had me spell-b
Sarah Mazza
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Who knew the world of fungus could be so wild and wacky?

Sheldrake opened my eyes to a world where mushrooms could influence human and animal behaviour alike, just from their scent, like our entire truffle industry. When mature, they release an aroma/chemical so intoxicating that mammals cannot refuse, recruiting us to spread their spores across otherwise impossible distances. There are fungi that eat radiation, that live kilometres underground or in an immense network connecting the roots of tr
L.G. Cullens
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco-lit
In my natural sciences studies over the years, though I was aware of fungi roles I hadn't focused much on them. I found this book an important other dimension, adding considerable complexity to physical being. It is not only informative, but also interesting — at least I would think so for those that strive to broaden their perspective.

Paraphrasing the author, the relationship between plants and fungi gave rise to the biosphere as we know it and supports life on land to this day, but there is s
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot stop talking to people about this book--it's fascinating! I did not realize how much I needed to read a book about a species other than humans until I read this. It's the perfect antidote to this year's human disasters. The book is well-written and at times pretty mind-blowing. ...more
K.J. Charles
Giving up on this, it's slow going and spends a lot of time going over the same ground, and so far what we've gone over isn't grabbing me as I'd hoped. Possibly I had excessive expectations for a book about mushrooms. Feels like an expert trying to write popular science and not quite hitting the sweet spot. ...more
Peter Tillman
I had fun with this one — even though there were a couple of saggy spots, and I noticed a couple of errors. It is his first book. Overall, a contender for best popular science book of the year, and a welcome relief from a string of weak ones for me. Overall, 4.5 stars.

Now, let’s see what I can make of my 6 pages of notes…. Gosh, way more cool stuff here than will fit. And the book is due back shortly. Might have to do a re-read not too far down the line. See notes for a bit more.

For me, first-ra
Diane S ☔
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-2021
Thoughts soon.
Camelia Rose
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures is an up-to-date book about fungi and everything fungal. It's so beautifully written that I sometimes forget it's a science book. Don't get me wrong, the book is scientific, but it is the opposite of the dry, academic style.

What strikes me most is the mycorrhizal network. Apparently the term Wood-Wide-Web is an inaccurate metaphor for several reasons: 1. It's plant-centric, unable to convey the symbiosis between fun
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave.

In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhil
Kitty G Books
Jan 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on audiobook as it’s read by the author and it is an entirely new-to-me topic which just sounded fascinating. I knew fungi were kind of ‘out there’ compared to other plants, we’ve all heard of magic mushrooms and medicinal fungi, but just how different a species and how highly proficient they are is amazing. Fungi in its various forms is one of the longest lasting and most resilient things on our planet. Not only is all of life pretty heavily dependent on fungi (although I didn’ ...more
I remember reading Ed Yong's I contain multitudes and, even though I had already read so much about the role of microbes in the human body, I was captivated and steeped in a world of tiny microbes that came alive to me and helped me see things in a whole new way. I had a similar experience when reading this book. 

Fungi are inside of you and all around you. They eat rock and turn it into the soil in which plants grow and provide the nutrients for animal life. They ingest pollutants and help the e
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I saw the cover for this and I was sold on it immediately. I have a burning passion for Ecology, Biology, Botany, and nature stuff in general. Yet, I’ve never delved into the realm of Fungus before, something I’m kicking myself about now.

There’s a certain feeling of awe I get when I hit a topic that I know virtually nothing about and I feel like my brain just absorbed so much brand new information that it changes the way I think about things. When I hit a book that reminds me that there’s still
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
I read through 6 chapters and decided to stop. I’m just not enjoying this book. I teach biology and love the subject of fungi. Some parts (factual information) was interesting but the majority wasn’t. It was mostly pseudoscientific and uncritical speculation mixed in with philosophical ramblings and overly flowery writing. Overall I found the book to be tedious and boring.
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures, by Merlin Sheldrake (brother of famous musician Cosmo Sheldrake, by the way - they pair well together), is an absolutely fantastic book on the mycorrhizal world of fungi, and all the interesting and amazing things they can do. Fungi are infinitely fascinating - they explode out of the ground almost right before your eyes, they pair with algae in symbiosis to form lichens, they can eat anything from dead wood, to pla ...more
Every single thing on this planet is interlinked and intertwined and often the thing that links them is fungi. They are everywhere and they bring life and death to every living entity on this planet. They can source life-giving nutrients from all manner of things, including plastic, oil and even explosives. Almost every living thing on this planet relies on them. We use them to make bread and beer, plants use them to extract nutrients. He even grows mushrooms on a copy of his book and then cooks ...more
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Merlin is the author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures. Merlin received a Ph.D. in tropical ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama, where he was a predoctoral research fellow of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is a research associate of the Vrije University, Amst ...more

Articles featuring this book

The term “microhistory” is a relatively new designation that refers to nonfiction history books that focus in on a single event, person, or...
130 likes · 22 comments
“A mycelial network is a map of a fungus’s recent history and is a helpful reminder that all life-forms are in fact processes not things. The “you” of five years ago was made from different stuff than the “you” of today. Nature is an event that never stops. As William Bateson, who coined the word genetics, observed, “We commonly think of animals and plants as matter, but they are really systems through which matter is continually passing.” 26 likes
“The authors of a seminal paper on the symbiotic view of life take a clear stance on this point. “There have never been individuals,” they declare. “We are all lichens.” 19 likes
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