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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

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

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.

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  • LiveMind
  • Vancouver, BC Canada
  • 06-09-13

When I grow up I want to write like this

What did you love best about The Botany of Desire?

The combination of biology and the humanities in such clear, beautiful prose. Pollan breathes life into the subject

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  • S
  • Orillia, ON, Canada
  • 03-29-13

Really????

What looked like an interesting book turned out to be a scare-mongering blast on "frankenfoods" and an exploration of the merits of cannabis. I was glad when the book was done!

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Fun with genetics

This book did a great job of showing how we as humans affect our plants' genetics, with or without modern biotechnology. I especially liked the handling of the apple, such a common food item. Little did I know how little I understood about the apple and its history.

The reader does not need a background in science for this book.

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  • Holly
  • Nevada County, CA USA
  • 06-25-12

Interesting Read

We (3 of our family of 4) enjoy books that address non-fiction topics and this book did not disappoint. It is the first Michael Pollan book I have read, but if it had not been designated as one of my book club reads, I would have avoided it due to the narrator. I dislike Scott Brick and, unfortunately, he is a prolific narrator. However, on this book, I found that I could overlook Mr. Brick's whiney nasal tone because of the quality of the writing. Michael Pollan presents the idea that plants, he uses 4 examples, have evolved desirable traits especially for humans for the purpose of increasing the plants chances of survival. Though I was not convinced that plants are in control of us, I did earn some great historical facts. As a gardener myself, I found the author's personal gardening experiences especial appealing.

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Food for thought

In 4 separate stories, this book looks at the way mankind has influenced the evolution and global distribution of specific plants (apples, tulips, potatoes and marijuana). This leads the author to question who is actually using who.
I found the stories interesting and fun.
The narrator's voice is somewhat nasal, which annoyed me a little bit, but not such that it marred by enjoyment of the book.

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  • michelle
  • Royal Oak, MI, United States
  • 03-26-12

A very niche orientated type of story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I did enjoy listening to this book. It made me think to apply different scientific theorems in ways that I haven't.

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

The most interesting aspect was the formulations about co-evolution of the specific plants.

Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

No character, a non-fiction book.

Was The Botany of Desire worth the listening time?

Yes, but a scientific or botanical leaning or preference is needed.

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The Botany of Desire

Would you try another book from Michael Pollan and/or Scott Brick?

Michael Pollan, yes. Scott Brick, no.

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

n/a

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

no

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

yes

Any additional comments?

Definitely I would buy another Micheal Pollan book. Although Scott Brick did his best, he just didn't read it as I want it read. No humor. A nasal tone to his voice. Too bad.

I had read the book and remember laughing out loud at Micheal's brush with the law in the marijuana segment. I was looking forward to hearing it read. Somehow even that didn't come off, with Mr. Brick. It fell flat.

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  • JM
  • 03-14-12

Highly recommended

Much non-fiction entertainment for your dollar here.
Cutting-edge at times.
Some new concepts.
Tons of new info.
This author especially recognizes when something is important.
Finds the important, as we all should.
Glad I selected it.

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Desire Fulfilled

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

I especially like Michael's brilliant essay on the evolution of American cannabis.

What did you like best about this story?

The combination of great narrative and technical research.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

N.