Pollan M. 2001. The botany of desire. Toronto (ON): Random House of Canada Limited. 271 p.
Diamond J. 1999. Guns, germs, and steel. New York (NY): W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 480 p.
I have only read one chapter from each of these books, the introduction chapter of The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, and chapter 7 of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and I’m already hooked! I found that both of these authors used a really nice balance of scientific, and passionate writing styles. Michael Pollan shares his thought-provoking concepts about the plants view on the world, while Jared kept me engaged with his plethora of facts. Each book was thoroughly engaging and I look forward to reading more very soon.
I think The Botany of Desire is the best book I’ve ever read! Michael Pollan was very impressive in the sense that he formed a whole new perspective on plants for me. He made me feel personally connected to his writing and made me think of things I’ve never thought of before. On page xv, I came across a thought provoking statement, “Did I choose to plant these potatoes, or did the potato make me do it?” Pollan explores this concept further as he tells a magnificent story of our natural human desires that connect us to plants, as well as a story about the plants themselves. Pollan focuses on the story of co-evolution between humans and 4 familiar plants; apples, tulips, cannabis, and potatoes. He goes through a number of concepts, writing them in such a way that its easy to understand and relate to. He explains the desires that connect us to these plants, the sweetness of the apple, beauty in the tulip’s, intoxication in cannabis, and control in the story of the potato. This book really got my attention and I hope it will be a valuable and enjoyable read to you as well.
I found Jared Diamonds’ book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, to be very enjoyable. Jareds writing style seems to be very in depth and factual, sometimes less engaging than Michaels, probably due to less of a personal connection. But overall, what I’ve read so far has made me gain a lot of knowledge about natural selection, and the evolution of wild plants to crop plants. One concept I enjoyed from Jared was on page 116, “When strawberry seeds are still young and not yet ready to be planted, the surrounding fruit is green, sour, and hard. When the seeds finally mature, the berries turn red, sweet, and tender. The change in the berries’ colour serves as a signal attracting birds….strawberries evolved through natural selection. The greener or more sour the young strawberry, the fewer the birds that destroyed the seeds by eating berries before the seeds were ready; the sweeter and redder the strawberry the more numerous the birds that dispersed its ripe seeds.” I like how Diamond made this concept easy to relate to, and chose strawberries, probably because a lot of people have a memory of picking fresh strawberries as a child. This was a good reminder that us along with other animals, share a connection with plants, as we pick the biggest, sweetest berry.