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The Botany of Desire | [Michael Pollan]

The Botany of Desire

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: It's hard to believe how much interest one man can generate in plants, but Michael Pollan does it. And he's a bit of an iconoclast, revealing a side of Johnny Appleseed (think hard apple cider) you might not have known, and tiptoeing through generations of tulip hybridization to account for a dearth in rarity. Offbeat or unexpected nonfiction works like this are a pleasure to listen to, placing the most common of things in new light. We learned a lot from this audiobook.

Publisher's Summary

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires, sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control, with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind's most basic yearnings. And just as we've benefited from these plants, the plants have also benefited at least as much from their association with us. So who is really domesticating whom?

©2001 by Michael Pollan; (P)2006 by Audio Evolution, LLC

What the Critics Say

"[Pollan] has a wide-ranging intellect, an eager grasp of evolutionary biology and a subversive streak that helps him to root out some wonderfully counterintuitive points. His prose both shimmers and snaps, and he has a knack for finding perfect quotes in the oddest places....Best of all, Pollan really loves plants." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1486 )
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4.2 (759 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 04-22-12
    Teddy Bronx, NY, United States 04-22-12

    "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you have an open mind... Give it a listen"

    This is one of those books that just gives you a lot to think about. I would actually suggest this book to anyone. Fitting narration, excellent content, something that anyone can appreciate.

    The narrator was pretty good, I wasn't falling asleep, I never thought that it was drawling on nor was I thinking it was being rushed. There were moments you can laugh at and it was also very easy to follow in the easy, cool tone the narrator had. The entire book was brought across very well.

    I have some friends who studied botany in in college who I picture would find the entire book fascinating. I majored in Chemistry and I found myself channelling my inner scientist by the Potato chapter wondering how I could genetically modify a Pumpkin plant, that's how thought provoking I found this book. Also, I can see someone with no affiliation with science also appreciating this book as long as they have an open mind. The book was not complicated in any way by having overly complex concept and was broken down in a form I think anyone could appreciate.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zentaro Bellevue, WA, USA 06-26-06
    Zentaro Bellevue, WA, USA 06-26-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Great book"

    This book is great. Sure it's not a textbook so don't expect to use it to pass your biology exams. It's a pop science book that will be interesting to a wide range of people, in particular anyone interested in gardening and plants.

    It's basically four stories, each one about a different plant and the authors experience with them and musing on them and their history. The four plants are apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes.

    The book is well written and in some places quite funny. It kept me entertained, I picked up a few factoids on the history of these plants, and it made me think about how plants and humans depend on each other.

    The narrators reading was a bit overdramatic in the introductory parts, either he settled down or I got used to it, because I enjoyed the narration through most of the stories. This narrator also did "The Traveler" (fiction), which I also enjoyed about 6 months ago.

    Overall, this is one of the best books I've downloaded in the last few months.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dominique Hackett Santa Barbara, CA, US 01-17-09
    Dominique Hackett Santa Barbara, CA, US 01-17-09 Member Since 2007

    I inspire women to get green & gorgeous & take back their mojo through teaching meditation, dance & balancing hormones & OMing!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing Listen - Thoroughly Satisfying"

    I realized my teenage children and I have listened to various parts of this book a dozen times already. Time to write a Review! Recommended to us by their high school teacher, this book discusses the history, science, and more regarding the apple, the lily, weed, and the potato. Don't miss this book - it is well read and not only very informative but a great story as well.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S Houston, TX, USA 06-24-08
    S Houston, TX, USA 06-24-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't let the neg. reviews scare you- good book"

    I'm not sure where those negative reviews came from. The book was well written, informative and entertaining. It's really a history of 4 things from our daily lives: apples, tulips, potatoes, and Mary Jane.

    But it's more than just a history of these four; like his other book(s), Botany of Desire makes you question things- in this case the theory that the food chain might actually 'desire' to be what they have evolved into. Although he argues this point seriously enough, and it did make me think about it, I find it difficult to equate evolution to 'desire.'

    Anyhoo, I bought this book because I really like Omnivore's Dilemma. It wasn't quite as good in my opinion, but still very good. And the only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I read OD before and had another of his works to compare this one to.

    In short, if you like apples, tulips, potatoes or wacky tobaccy, you'll like this book.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert United States 10-20-11
    Robert United States 10-20-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awful, Awful narrator."

    Nearly impossible to get through this book with the chosen narrator. Sadly, it takes a lot from the interesting subject matter.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Round Rock, TX, USA 06-29-08
    Julie Round Rock, TX, USA 06-29-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a delight"

    Although I found the subject matter of this book interesting and appealing, it was Pollan's use of language that kept me coming back to listen more. It has been a long time since I have been exposed to such charming and lyrical prose -- a perfect accompaniment to the author's love of the subject. Or perhaps I should say "subjects" -- the choice of apple, tulip, cannabis, and potato provide a multidimensional view of human-plant interaction (and Pollan's passion for the topic) that would not be easily expressible in a more conventionally focused format.

    Two green thumbs up!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol McCluer New York, NY, United States 05-13-11
    Carol McCluer New York, NY, United States 05-13-11 Member Since 2011

    Carol McCluer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dislike the Narrator"

    I'm enjoying the book but I really dislike the whiny tone of the person reading it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Nelson, British Columbia, Canada 05-02-10
    Terry Nelson, British Columbia, Canada 05-02-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Surprisingly Excellent"

    I got this book as I like the narrator and it had so many great reviews. This book makes you think of the relationship between humans and nature - and in particular plants - in a whole different way. Johnny Appleseed is explained with many fascinating facts about apples and apple trees.
    Apples, Tulips, Marijuana and Potatoes are talked about and explained. I found the discussion on potatoes would be the most provocative. The book allows you to better understand the blight,why genetic engineering of foods is gaining a foothold, and the challenges of organic farming.
    Well worth the listen!




    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. San Francisco, CA, United States 12-15-10
    M. San Francisco, CA, United States 12-15-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Good Book - Awful Narration"

    I greatly enjoyed the content of this book, but stopped listening to it and read a paper copy due to downright unbearable narration. I would only recommend listening to this book if you have previously listened to Scott Brick and actually like (or can suffer through) his narration style, which is characterized by inexplicably dramatic passages, comically mispronounced words and a cadence that could make you seasick. That said, some people love his style. I'm not one of them and therefore cannot recommend this book or any other book read by Mr. Brick.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mirna New York, NY, USA 06-05-06
    Mirna New York, NY, USA 06-05-06 Member Since 2006
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    "Disappointing"

    This is not a book for those looking for hard facts. Contrary to the book's description, you'll learn very little about the co-evolution of humans and plants. Most of the text consists out of lenghty contemplations and author's own, rather poetical, thoughts about humans and plants.

    23 of 29 people found this review helpful
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