Day: July 24, 2008

A Plant\’s-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan

Speaking of plants as having consciousness really stretches the imagination. I think Pollan carries his metaphors in The Botany of Desire a bit too far. And he talked about Apollo and Dionysus way too much. But overall, this book about how four common plants evolved traits that gratify the human senses- sweetness for the apple, beauty for the tulip, intoxication for the cannabis and what? control for the potato? he kinda lost me there- is pretty interesting and taught me quite a number of things. I learned about the Irish potato famine, and how organic potato growers differ from commercial ones. I learned that modern apple trees are all clones (pretty bad for genetic diversity- see Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang for an idea of what cloning might do to humans). The chapter about marijuana was rather confusing and really began to loose my attention- the only frame of reference I have for that plant is a sickly sweet smell in high school bathrooms and more recently, watching episodes of Weeds. And having read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister not very long ago, a book which places the Cinderella story in the middle of the 1600\’s Dutch tulip craze, I appreciated learning more details about that phenomenon. One little paragraph particularly caught my attention, where Pollan briefly mentions \”one theory of the origins of agriculture [which] holds that domesticated plants first emerged on dump heaps\”. A few years ago I read in a book called Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution by Raymond Coppinger of the idea that domestic dogs are descended from wolves that were attracted to rubbish heaps- who began the taming process themselves, in a way. It was curious to think that domestic plants may have also had roots in our anciently discarded trash. But rubbish this book is not. It was entertaining, if a bit tedious, confusing and contradictory at times. Not terribly scientific, but for someone like me who doesn\’t know much about the natural history of plants, quite readable and very interesting.

Rating: 4/5                      271 pages, 2001

Lezlie from Books n\’ Border Collies so kindly nominated me for the Brillante Weblog award yesterday! I was so surprised and pleased. I\’ve been thinking all day who to pass the award on to:

books i done read- This blog is absolutely hilarious! If you\’ve never been there, go now. I guarantee you\’ll be laughing in minutes. It\’s one of the few blogs where I actually read every single post, even if it\’s about a book of a genre I strongly avoid- her blunt, frank, to-the-point reviews are just like what I always think about books, but never have the gall to write.

Book Puddle– On days he\’s not reviewing a book (or film), Cipriano shares quotes from a wide range of bookish material. I always enjoy reading the quote of the day- usually accompanied by a photo or illustration as well. Refreshingly different. He also shares his own poetry, and it\’s quite good!

Chain-Reading
– I like this blog because the reviews are short and sweet. Sometimes so short they\’re posted as \”four-word\” reviews. When I\’m tired and have over a hundred entries piled up in google reader, I always read the ones that keep things in a nutshell. Chain-Reading also uses vacillating font sizes, which makes things jump out at me. I like that. Oh, and there used to be some beautiful music there, too.

Maw Books- An awesome blog. I was already enjoying the thoughtful reviews and then she went and set up this staggering database of book blogs. Maw Books has my outspoken admiration for that. When I want to know what someone else thinks of a book I just finished, I head over and check out who\’s on her list. It\’s a great way to find new blogs, as well!

Things Mean a Lot– I always look forward to visiting this blog. Nymeth reviews a lot of fantasy books that really appeal to me- she\’s probably responsible for adding to my TBR pile more than most! And her blog is so pretty. I love the Rackham fairies.

Both Eyes Book Blog– I just recently discovered this blog. So far I\’ve been enjoying every post. They\’re not too wordy, but always very thoughtful. And I have to say, I love the story behind the name of this blog!

Hooser\’s Blook– Lauren and Dana were among the first book bloggers to welcome me and comment when I first began book blogging. They\’ve always got something interesting to say about books I\’ve never heard of (more for the TBR!).

My book blogging friends, you are all so wonderful! I could have named (literally) dozens of other blogs. If you\’ve been nominated here and want to pass the Brilliante along, here\’s the \”rules\”: Put the logo on your blog. Add a link to the person who awarded you. Nominate at least seven other blogs. Add links to those blogs on your blog. Leave a message for your nominees on their blog.

Thanks again to Lezlie!

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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