Tag: Merlin Sheldrake

Review – Entangled Life

Posted October 7, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Entangled Life by Merlin SheldrakeEntangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures, Merlin Sheldrake

I’ve been looking forward to Entangled Life for quite a while, so hurrah! It’s finally here. I read it pretty quickly, and then had to put it aside and think whether it actually met my expectations. Sheldrake’s really, really keen on fungi, that much is obvious; sometimes I was less interested in his poetic hands-on eagerness to understand them close up — I wouldn’t wax lyrical about Mycobacterium tuberculosis in quite the same way, however wonderful and terrible I find it.

In the main, it’s accessible and interesting, and centres fungi completely in a way that normally doesn’t happen. There are lots of books about microbiology and few are the ones that really delve into fungi, partly for the good reason that we don’t actually understand fungi very well and have a lot to learn. There are a lot of interesting facts in this book, and some interesting speculations as well.

I just… I don’t know, I ended it feeling that Sheldrake was more interested in evangelising for fungi than anything else. The bit at the end where he says he’s going to seed a copy of the book with spores and dampen it, and then eat the mushrooms that grow… and then pulp another book to make alcohol out of it — I don’t know, it had me pulling back a lot and saying “y’what, mate?” There’s something very performative about it, and if someone were to tell me he were being mind-controlled by our secret fungal overlords, well… In fiction, that’s exactly what’s going on.

It’s odd for me that I ended the book with that strong feeling of “…dude, what?” instead of fascination with the genuinely interesting scientific titbits newly learned.

Rating: 3/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted October 7, 2020 by Nicky in General / 6 Comments

It’s Wednesday again! So here’s the usual check-in. You can go to Taking On A World Of Words to chat with everyone else who has posted what they’re reading right now!

Cover of How to Change Your Mind by Michael PollanWhat are you currently reading?

Oh, far too much at once! Non-fiction: still working on Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics. Mostly the point so far is that the science isn’t so very new at all; psychedelic drugs were originally expected to be useful in treating mental health disorders, and go figure, now we’re figuring out that that was probably true.

Fiction: I’m rereading Mira Grant’s Deadline, in the firm hope that one day I’ll actually get onto Blackout and finish the whole book. It’s not that I don’t like the trilogy — I’ve read the first book several times! It just hits hard, and especially so at the moment, given the themes the zombie pandemic raises in the book…

I’m also reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and I kinda hate it. I can’t get into the narration, and it’s hard to find a story past the narration. I know, I know, I hear everyone on Twitter shouting at me that I’m just asking for all books to be typical European narratives, and that probably has a part to play. But… I don’t know, I’m not a fan of any of it so far; what I do understand is that there’s a lot of violence, including sexual violence. Just not the sort of thing I enjoy, without other high points.

That’s not all I’m reading, but that’s enough to be getting on with!

Cover of Entangled Life by Merlin SheldrakeWhat have you recently finished reading?

Non-fiction: Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake. I had been really looking forward to this, and it is really fun. I enjoyed all the facts about fungi! I think Sheldrake loves his subject a lot, and that always helps. Need to ponder my review a bit more, though. Obviously this had some odd parallels with How to Change Your Mind, since Sheldrake also mentioned psilocybin mushrooms!

Fiction: I finished my reread of Feed, basically all in one go now I’m not so dang anxious!

Cover of The Angel of the Crows by Katherine AddisonWhat will you be reading next?

Not sure, but I ordered Stuck: How Vaccine Rumours Start and Why They Don’t Go Away by Heidi J. Larson, and that just arrived today, so maybe I’ll get stuck into that before I shelve it and it goes out of sight, out of mind! Larson’s a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where I now study, so it especially caught my eye — and public health initiatives like encouraging vaccine uptake are something I’d be interested in getting involved with myself.

Other than that, rereading The Goblin Emperor for a book club reminds me I really need to get round to reading The Angel of the Crows.

What are you folks reading?

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