Rosa'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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it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction

The Botany of Desire was my trans-Pacific flight companion in good measure of the 5 hours from Hawai‘i to Portland: I read half of the book on the way there, covering Pollan’s first two stories of desire (the apple/sweetness and tulip/beauty), and then finished it on the trip back home (learning of his connection for marijuana/intoxication and the potato/control in the last two stories). Pollan’s coevolutionary premise, that plants have had a much greater effect on us than we realize, especially given their rooting and apparent immobility, was fascinating to me, and the book did not disappoint — I loved it.

This is a “Made you think!” kind of book, and Pollan stokes the reader’s curiosity very skillfully. I was intrigued with learning more of what botany can teach us, about plants yes, but mostly about ourselves in the coevolutionary connection Pollan explains so well. He writes well, and he’s woven good stories, all boosted with significant personal research (including that within his own garden, a wonderful personal touch) and I wished the book was longer to tell us of even more of them — the botanical connections abound here in the tropics, and the four desires he’s covered simply begin to peel back our complex layers.

Pollan was brilliant in starting with the apple and story of Johnny Appleseed, for we’ve all heard of the legend without knowing the depth of the story, and it’s so easy to take the apple for granted. It’s quite impossible to read this book without changing the way one thinks of plants, and without continuing to wonder just how much more they have affected us; what Pollan has done is awake the reader’s inquisitiveness and respect for botany in very successful way — we can continue our study on our own to a certain degree, the scientific calling unnecessary, and most notably with our own relationship to nature. I would also recommend this book to someone wanting to stretch in their reading with more non-fiction, for it’s a compelling choice in a league of its own.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 13, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 15, 2011 – Shelved
May 15, 2011 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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