The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
I am the last person you will find browsing the nonfiction section of a library or bookstore. My fantasy fiction addiction will always trump my inherent need for practical knowledge.
However, in a moment of desperation, and perhaps even guilt for having not delved into it before, I picked up a neglected Christmas gift of 2014 that had gone untouched. Fortunately, it happened to be this book, and it gifted me an interest in the beauty of nonfiction.
Being the only species on this planet capable of self-awareness and reflection, characterized by a peculiar, (and often misused) consciousness, we tend to become a little arrogant at times. Often, when we see plants, we subconsciously note to ourselves: lesser. And of course, on many levels, they are. But who is harvesting who? Our language teaches us that the plants are the objects and we are the subjects of the sentence, that we till the fields, we harvest the grain. Is it so impossible to think that, through millions of years of evolution, plants have used us as a means of transporting themselves all over the world, and are using us as much as we use them?
The purpose of Pollan's novel is not to break down your ego, however it does that effectively through the insights throughout his writing. Drawing on concepts such as natural selection, he picks up on the nuances in the natural world that we so often fail to recognize, reminding us that we are very much apart of and integral to its processes, even if we seem isolated with our technologies, schedules, and busy lives.
Arranged into four sections, (the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato), Pollan poses organized questions about the correlation between human desire and its significance to the plant world, and vice versa. Using both history, his own stories, and research, he attempts to answer many of these questions.
A mere 270 pages, this book will surprise you with how enlightening it is. Informative, insightful, humorous and surprisingly addictive, The Botany of Desire is a perspective on the coevolution of plants and humans that you won't easily forget, whether you are thinking alone on a bench sipping your morning coffee, or having a discussion with friends, it will give your mind an extra edge, and provoke some deeper conclusions about life that you may never have considered before.
Happy reading my friends. I am getting in the habit of leaving a link to Amazon if you are enticed enough to read a book. It's pretty cool if you purchase it through that link, because then I get a cut for referring you!