Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition: How Fungi Make Our Worlds (Hardcover)
As the weather gets colder, my favorite activity is to curl up with a good book. I love fiction, but I have a special affinity for nonfiction, especially nature books.
Recently I’ve read three that were particularly enjoyable. They range from the world of fungi to a beautifully illustrated book about trees and end with the wonder and majesty of the Olympic Peninsula. These books encompass a wide array of knowledge of the natural world and are perfect gifts for fans of the outdoors.
Entangled Life: The Illustrated Edition: How Fungi Make Our Worlds by Merlin Sheldrake, is an incredible book about mushrooms. Sheldrake's original bestselling edition explains how prevalent and important fungi are in our lives.
“They are eating rock, making soil, digesting pollutants, nourishing and killing plants, surviving in space, inducing visions, producing food, making medicines, manipulating animal behavior and influencing the composition of the Earth's atmosphere," Sheldrake writes.
This gorgeously illustrated edition is abridged and is accompanied by full color pictures of fungi that show the variety, beauty and awe that exist in the fungal kingdom. Seeing the stunning colorful fungi and lichens really helps hit home how diverse fungi are and adds in another level of enjoyment to an already astonishing book.
Knowing the Trees: Discover the Forest from Seed to Snag by Ken Keffer, is a quaintly illustrated book about trees and the beauty of the forest. Keffer outlines the life cycle of trees in his book. He starts with chapters about seeds, then moves on to roots, trunks, heart wood, the canopy and finishes with snags and a broad look at forest ecology.
Keffer notes the purpose of his book is to educate and inspire respect for nature.
“Knowing trees inspires readers by imparting a new level of awareness and understanding of the natural world... allowing you to see the forest and the trees," Keffer writes.
I’ve read many books on trees, but this one stands out for its ability to explain in beautiful detail the importance of each stage of a tree's life to the health of a North American forest and all the animals in it. The lovely color illustrations by Emily Walker paired with Keffer’s lyrical text just add the immersive feeling that you’re walking through a forest.
Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Washington's Olympic Peninsula by Tim McNulty, showcases the natural beauty and wonder of this diverse corner of our state as well as conservation efforts to maintain it. McNulty touches on efforts to return salmon and protect native birds, mammals and sea creatures, like octopus. Along with this information, he has stunning full color pictures to show the majesty of these flora and fauna.
I think the most intriguing part of this book is after each chapter, a writer from one of the five sovereign tribes in the region tells what that area means to their people with stories or insights. It adds such depth to see Indigenous voices explaining the beauty of the land their tribe maintains traditional homelands on.
As McNulty writes, “The deeper importance of the Olympic Peninsula extends beyond the beauty and biological richness of this island-like ecosystem. It lies in the promise these lands and waters offer to the Northwest Region, the North Pacific Rim and the world.”
This is a gorgeous book that anyone can benefit from and learn.
These books show a dizzying array of the wonders of nature. I would highly recommend all of them. I know they would make wonderful Christmas gifts for anyone interested in the stunning beauty of our natural world.— Rachel Fowler
Merlin Sheldrake’s New York Times bestseller, Entangled Life, is now a lavish visual journey into the hidden lives of fungi.
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 the first edition of the mind-bending, “gorgeous” (Margaret Atwood), ”brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) Entangled Life, Sheldrake introduced us to this mysterious but massively diverse kingdom of life. This new edition, abridged from the original, features over 100 full-color images that bring the spectacular variety, strangeness and beauty of fungi to life as never before.
Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life’s processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. In vivid, surprising images, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms—and our relationships with them—are changing our understanding of how life works.
About the Author
Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and author of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and winner of the Royal Society Book Prize and the Wainwright Prize. Merlin is a research associate of the Vrije University Amsterdam and works with the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks and the Fungi Foundation. A keen brewer and fermenter, he is fascinated by the relationships that arise between humans and more-than-human organisms.
Praise for Entangled Life
“[An] ebullient and ambitious exploration . . . Reading [Entangled Life] left me not just moved but altered, eager to disseminate its message of what fungi can do.”—The New York Times
“A gorgeous book of literary nature writing, ripe with insight and erudition. . . . Food for the soul.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Nearly every page of this book contained either an observation so interesting or a turn of phrase so lovely that I was moved to slow down, stop, and re-read. . . . [Entangled Life] reminded me that fungi are, like the Universe, sublime.”—Science
“An exuberant introduction to the biology, ecology, climatology, and psychopharmacology of the earth’s ‘metabolic wizards.’”—Harpers Magazine
“A poetic, mind-bending tour of the fungal world.”—Scientific American
“Wondrous . . . Humans should consider fungi among the greatest of earth’s marvels.”—Time (Books of the Year)
“An astonishing book.”—The Observer
“Completely mind-blowing.”—The Sunday Times
“A magical journey deep into the roots of Nature by an expert storyteller . . . a must-read.”—Paul Stamets
“Reading this book, I felt surrounded by a web of wonder. The natural world is more fantastic than any fantasy, so long as you have the means to perceive it. This book provides the means.”—Jaron Lanier
“Urgent, astounding, and necessary.”—Helen Macdonald
“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of An Immense World
“I fell in love with this book. Merlin Sheldrake is a scientist with the imagination of a poet and a beautiful writer.”—Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind (Bay Area Book Festival, 2020)
“Dazzling, vibrant, vision changing.”—Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland
“Gorgeous.”—Margaret Atwood, author of Old Babes in the Wood
“Not just for mushroom heads . . . science at its most uplifting.”—Jeanette Winterson, The Times
“This book is like one surprise after another.”—David Byrne, Rolling Stone