Amanda'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
Sep 24, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: food-things, non-fiction
Read from September 24 to 25, 2011

You know, I've read other Pollan and enjoyed it, but this just... droned. It felt like listening to some overly self-satisfied guy go off on pet theories while pretending that they were so well researched they must be the absolute truth. The problem is that Pollan DID research-- it just doesn't come off that way. It comes off messy and pretentious.

I felt like the overarching theme of the book was a stretch, and like there was little unity between some of the sections. I also felt like his names for the sections were failures-- the section on apples was called Sweet, and he claimed that it was a section that would address the human desire for sweetness... but the vast majority of the section was on the early alcoholic cider that would have been made from bitter apples in the US. If he really wanted to focus on sweet, he shouldn't have treated breeding and cloning like an afterthought. Further, his section on control: the potato, didn't seem to fit, since so much of it was about how potatoes will grow seeminingly anywhere, under any conditions without being controlled. His later foray into discussion about monsanto and genetically engineered crops fit... but then he also talked about the superiority of non-gen engineered crops, and the ways that monoculture is bad, and how our "control" may doom certain potatoes. It's an important topic, but it doesn't seem to fit the idea that potatoes represent control.

It also felt silly to have two chapters that largely focused on intoxicants-- the pot one legitimately, and the apple one because he seemed to find that a much more interesting story than any actual story of sweetness.

He was also overly repetitive at times.

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Reading Progress

09/24/2011 page 200
66.0% "pollan just drones in this one."

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