Michael Pollan’s unmatched ability to draw lines of connection between our everyday experiences - whether eating, gardening, or building - and the natural world has been the basis for the popular success of his many works of nonfiction, including the genre-defining best sellers The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. With this updated edition of his earlier book, A Place of My Own, listeners can revisit the inspired, intelligent, and often hilarious story of Pollan’s realization of a room of his own—a small, wooden hut, his “shelter for daydreams” — built with his admittedly unhandy hands. Inspired by both Thoreau and Mr. Blandings, A Place of My Own not only works to convey the history and meaning of all human building, it also marks the connections between our bodies, our minds, and the natural world.
It would be nice if Michael Pollan would narrate the rest of his books. Scott Brick's voice to me just doesn't suit Pollan's writing. I love his use of language, and also how he goes into detail about his research of every issue. A very interesting listen even if you have no desire to build anything of your own.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I hate to put a lower review, because Pollan is a fabulous writer, researcher, storyteller. It's only because this book (along with Second Nature) is completely different from his books The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Botany of Desire. The latter three, I devoured (pun intended), but I couldn't get through much of this one or Second Nature. They're terrific, if you like slow meditative autobiographical stories, but that's not my kind of thing.
25 of 27 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about A Place of My Own?
This book is a wonderful journey for the mind and through Michael Pollan's building adventure. I particularly love Pollan's ability to approach theoretical concepts in a way that actually makes the process interesting and fun, it's like what they wanted to teach you at university (in a BA program) but were usually unable to achieve. Pollan brings the wishy-washy ponce that is architectural theory and sheds light on the primal and emotional aspects that make the art a tangible concept when understanding one's feelings about a space or the importance of dwellings.
What other book might you compare A Place of My Own to and why?
It is like an academic text on the philosophy behind architectural theory, but much more fun.
Which character – as performed by Michael Pollan – was your favorite?
Himself, but I particularly liked the way Pollan wrote about Joe. Not for the gun-control, conspiracy-theorist aspect but for the way Pollan described the depths beneath the blunt handyman exterior and what I see as a yearning for knowledge without the benefits of a background focused on education or skeptical research and critical thinking. I see much of this in my own renovation tradesmen.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
I learned about balloon framing! I now look at pine forests and housing estates in a completely new way! Also: the value of meandering garden paths to my studio (which presupposes one has a phone line in the studio or else an answering machine in the house), a better understanding of shingles, sympathy for builders in cold areas dealing with the ravages of frost, an eye tuned to nostalgia in postmodern architecture, appreciation for a well sealed roof, and satisfying smugness for my solid stone country house and renewed awe for the previous owner who built it (and the garden studio) who did it mainly by 'feel'.
Any additional comments?
I wonder if Michael ever used his daybed or if it just ended up as another horizontal place to put piles of documents and books?
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
I adore Michael Pollan. Sometimes, however, he comes across as a bit too foodie-East Coast-hipster, but his writing and perspectives keep pulling me back. His writing all seems to contain the same germ or basic theme. Whether he is writing about food, gardening, cooking, or building a house/writing room, Pollan gravitates towards simplicity and sustainability. It is like having a quirky, Jewish Zen master show you how to build a house or cook a meal. Yes. Be one with your potato.
'A Place of My Own' is an early Pollan book where he relates his experiences building a writing shed, a small backyard 104-square-foot outbuilding where he can dream, escape, imagine and write. It is part: 'A Room of One's Own' + 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' + 'Walden' + 'Shop Class as Soulcraft'. Pollen is looking at the value of solitude, space, work, nature, etc., in a modern technological age.
Pollan is the Jenna Jameson of hipster porn. I WANT to build my own cabin on family land in Idaho. I want to buy all my food in local, Saturday neighborhood markets. I want to tramp around the woods looking for mushrooms and figure out a way to feed my family in a sustainable and healthy way EVERYDAY. But most days reality just sits on me and I grab some canned crap from Walmart, maybe get my veggies from Sprouts and Fresh and Easy (or as my wife calls it Cheap and Sleazy) and go back to my suburban tract home. Pollen gives me room to fantasize about what part of my brain wants to, but isn't totally able to do -- escape, simplify, and double down on the urban, lumbersexual hipster hiding inside of me. I can't build a small outdoor cabin in my backyard, but I can fantasize about it for a couple hours while I read Pollan in the dark. And maybe, one day, I can pick up that hammer, eat that shroom, and start BANGIN'.
18 of 22 people found this review helpful
The story of Micheal Pollan's writing house's construction ( as this story is in part ) is also a celebration of the incalculable. The things that can't be measured; at least in the normal and worldly ways. These un-metricable ( if you will excuse a made up term ) things can be the satisfaction of learning the use of a chisel,or to be more correct, the feeling of accomplishment that the learned use can bring. It can also be the age old war that rages ( cold and hot ) between builders and designers ( and perhaps the bridging of the gap between them ). Pollan lays these things bare, in a friendly and warm light, his mild and intriguing voice propelling you through dialog and situation that may be thick and academic at once and earthy at another. I would recommend this fine novel to anyone , and I owe my own reading ( well, listening ) of it to another fine novel by Nick Offerman ( " Gumption" by name ) lest I had listened to it, I would never had heard of Michael Pollan . Two thumbs up for " A Place of My Own"! Well done sir!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend A Place of My Own to your friends? Why or why not?
I could not universally recommend this book; however, I would definitely recommend it to friends interested in building. Michael is a good writer and packs in a lot of history and evolution of buildings into his personal story. On occasion, I just could not relate to Michael's experience because his portrayal of himself as an average guy didn't ring true. Most average guys cannot afford to hire an architect and builder to fulfill their dream of a cabin dedicated to writing on the back of their Connecticut property using special lumber. Michael should be commended for co-bulding along side the contractor but this the tale of a privileged man not a regular Joe.
What does Michael Pollan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
I probably would not have finished the book if I read it myself. Having the author read it, made the long descriptions more palable.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was a very enjoyable story of Michael Pollan building his own writing house. It's a bit long, it could be 25% shorter for me, but enjoyable. I always a pleasure when books are read by the authors and this is no exception.
Micheal pollen is a amazing writer!!
His writing style keeps me hanging the entire book ... every time !
What made the experience of listening to A Place of My Own the most enjoyable?
A Place of My Own illuminates the experience of building a simple place in the woods in understandable and emotional detail. Even a small building is a key to an entire world of history revealed by materials, methods and human desire that is manifest in building and making things. The narrative by Pollan give a rich human perspective.
for the person longing to get their hands dirty again. Little long winded at parts, but really great description of what it's like to undertake a "small" but thorough construction project from inkling to end.