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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 (1585 )
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4.2 (846 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer New York, United States 09-16-11
    Amazon Customer New York, United States 09-16-11 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book ruined by unimaginably awful reading"

    It is difficult to say I enjoyed this book when I could barely stomach the awful narration by Scott Brick. I think having him narrate this (as well as all the other Michael Pollan books) is a huge disservice to MP fans. I think having my eyes poked out would be preferable to listening to another book by this reader, even if it were my most favourite book ever.

    The sing-songy and overly dramatic (in random places that have nothing to do with the storyline) reading completely take away any pleasure to be gained from Michael Pollan's clear, insightful writing. I actually had to abandon the book after the second section because I just couldn't take it any longer. I feel cheated - of my time, of my money, and of what could have been a wonderful listening experience. Audible.com should have a free short listening sample from each book so you can make sure the narrator is not going to ruin it for you before you spend your money on the whole book!

    If you can tolerate his nasal, whiny narration, go for it - the material is fantastic, and everything one would expect from Michael Pollan.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 07-15-07
    Derek Vashon, WA, United States 07-15-07 Member Since 2010
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    "Not what I hoped"

    I should have read the other reviews before buying this book. The introduction was interesting and I looked forward to the science behind the themes it presented. It was not to be. Way too many musings about the character of Johnny Appleseed for a book I thought would be more about evolution and genetics. Perhaps if I was expecting something different, I would not be as disappointed. I gave up after the Apple chapter.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Philadelphia, PA, USA 04-01-09
    Laura Philadelphia, PA, USA 04-01-09 Member Since 2011
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    "Good book spoiled by narration"

    Interesting and educatonal, but.....
    Maybe it is well written, and maybe not - the over-dramatic narration gets in the way and is so distracting that it was hard to tell. Every sentence sounds either like a headline or like a parent trying to entice a reluctant toddler to appreciate something suspect. It was so continuously irritating that I will avoid this reader in the future (so it looks like I'll be looking for print versions of any other Michael Pollan I'm curious about).
    Although it's a stretch to say that the themes of "which species is in charge" and "desire" really provided organization or depth for the four separate narratives of this book, they are intriguing ideas and the stories of these plants are worth reading.

    11 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Moore 05-14-15
    K. Moore 05-14-15
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    "Great book covers much more than plants"

    Pollan discusses plants as so much more than the simple, discrete objects we tend to view them as.

    Scott Brick's narration is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DEG II PA 05-13-15
    DEG II PA 05-13-15 Member Since 2011

    Don

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    "Good Book, Lots of Information"
    If you could sum up The Botany of Desire in three words, what would they be?

    Wealth of Information


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Botany of Desire?

    The description of Johnny Appleseed's activities.


    Any additional comments?

    Well researched, very detailed, interesting and unique subject matter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edmund W. Cheung Playa Del Rey, CA USA 02-27-15
    Edmund W. Cheung Playa Del Rey, CA USA 02-27-15 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Has its good points and interesting but verbose"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend extracts of the book.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The history of the apple and potato.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    narrator is fine. the book is too verbose and repeats itself in 3 different way over and over again.


    Do you think The Botany of Desire needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    great ideas and thoughts and concepts. wish it was about half as long. It seemed like a thesis paper that was trying too hard with too much flourish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    b.smith 02-27-15
    b.smith 02-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "great listen."

    very inyeresting and a great book. will listen to it again. If your considering it. just get it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MD Boston 03-08-14
    MD Boston 03-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "What a great story teller"
    What made the experience of listening to The Botany of Desire the most enjoyable?

    Michael Pollen is a master at weaving a story that engages the reader to open their mind to to a new persecutive that is often overlooked or ignored. I listened to this book two times in a row because the writing is so rich in detail. The story of the apple, tulip, cannabis, and potato are told through the lens of history, science, agriculture and psychology. I think differently about each one now and have recommend this book to numerous people.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 01-29-14
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 01-29-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a writer and a yoga teacher with a Masters in English Literature.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book re-inspired me to eat potatoes"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely, and bought it for my brother for his birthday. It has a rare combination of poetry in the writing even though the book is nonfiction and you learn a lot about the history of agriculture and what's actually happening with the apples and potatoes that end up on our plates. It's sort of a political topic, but he manages to make the book incredibly entertaining and gorgeous to listen to. The Omnivore's Dilemma is one of my favourite books, and this one did not disappoint from my high standards of Michael Pollan.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Botany of Desire?

    The long list of local names for apples--hilarious, sweet, gorgeous, and evocative.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    I think a good narrator is almost one you don't notice--his performance wasn't distracting from the story at all, so I think he really embodied it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, but it did re-ignite my desire to eat potatoes, which I'd always thought of as kind of a boring vegetable. I didn't know how nutritious they are, and their political stance as having rescued the Irish from persecution (until monoculture ruined everything of course) gives them street cred.


    Any additional comments?

    I think you'd like this book whether you are a fiction or a non-fiction lover. Pollan really knows how to bridge the gap.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Echo 07-15-13
    Echo 07-15-13

    Oread

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    "I'm not a botanist. But I loved this."
    Would you listen to The Botany of Desire again? Why?

    I have listened to it twice. It is a wealth of information told in an interesting way.


    What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    For a book about plants, he makes it seem like a beautiful fairy tail. He makes the words interesting and adds humor that is believable.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Some of the history is amazing, however it was the authors tail of the cop and the marajuna behind the shed that had me rolling with laughter. I have actually told that story to many friends and all have found it just as hysterical. .


    Any additional comments?

    The first little bit may seem tedious. But every new story kept me interested. I listened to it when I went for walks and found myself enjoying nature even more because of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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