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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

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An Excellent Book

Pollan's writing style is clear and concise. He has a clean way with words that is easy to understand. A delightful book which has many entertaining stories, a bit of science, and history, as well as experiences which all come across as dinner party conversation. He is even keeled and factual, conveying his findings like a journalist. It's a surprisingly light read dense with information.

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educational and interesting

I had no problem paying attention. The story was interesting and educational. The writer made some really great points that made me think.

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Elucidating Read

Really opened my eyes to the co-evolution between us and our environment that goes on everyday.

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  • Sandy
  • United States
  • 02-20-17

Good read

The book was engaging. Michael Pollan writes well and intelligently. Never bored listening to his books.

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Fantastic book, horrible narration.

I hate Scott Brick as a narrator, he ruined Androids Dream of Electric Sheep for me too 😣

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great book

This book is very interesting I learned a lot different plant, their origins, and how they fit into today society.

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Very interesting read.

Very thought provoking. This book is broken up into 4 parts based on 4 plants; the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato. I liked 3 out of 4. the part on the tulip was very boring, consisting of way too much description of what different varieties of tulips look like. I'm on the fence about recommending this, if you're really into the subject go for it. If not, I'd pass.

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The Omnivore's Prequel

What made the experience of listening to The Botany of Desire the most enjoyable?

My first impression was that this book wasn't what I thought it was. The Omnivore's Dilemma changed the way I think about food. This book starts out with a meandering story about the tourist-y side of Johnny Appleseed. I was prepared to be very, very disappointed. But with the consistent, artful narration by Scott Brick I stuck with the story and am very glad to have taken this journey.

Through the book you cover some material that lays the foundation, both stylistically and idealistically for Michael Pollan's later work. About half-way through I found myself in a comfortable space, nosing around bits and pieces which which flush out into books like In Defense of Food, and Cooked.

What other book might you compare The Botany of Desire to and why?

I'll compare it to the Omnivore's Dilemma by the same author, because the arc of the story across the multiple facets of desire (apples, tulips, cannabis, and a hodgepodge of related concepts) is similar to the tract taken in this later work.

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Scott Brick is a narrator for audio books who sets the standard for a performance. In this work, he's still got it.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Find out what the best gardeners of the 1980's were up to during the peak of the drug war."

Any additional comments?

Michael Pollan waxes philosophically about marijuana... I didn't see that coming before listening to this book.

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An unusual look

Very well written, this shows the passion of author Pollan for chasing the story, as well as his love of food. I highly recommend this well read piece for both plant enthusiasts as well as those looking for an eye opening take on why we humans love the plants we cultivate.

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Michael nailed it

A poetic journey through the tales of time; absolutely amazing book. A highly recommended read!