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Second Nature: A Gardener's Education by…
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Second Nature: A Gardener's Education (1991)

by Michael Pollan

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Recently added byprivate library, bi11me, HancockPoint, 1Randal, masquenada, piscessunflower, Staugs
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    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (mao21234)
    mao21234: Organized also by season, full of insights into how to grow things. Both are good for novice gardeners.
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I loved Botany of Desire but trudged through Second Nature. Not finding Pollan's personal gardening history & musings there upon particularly interesting. I did appreciate his notion, however, of Lawn as Television. Perhaps also didn't relate because he's talking about gardening a property in New England, which has little in common with gardening in Northern California. Major theme: intersection of nature and culture. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
Although I am not a gardener--I joke that I have a black thumb, I do understand the attraction and love to walk through communal gardens and so forth. In this early book, Michael Pollan, known now for his two bestsellers on food (one reviewed by me), writes about gardening, the idea of gardens and the false dichotomy we make between nature and culture. A wise, thoughtful book that seems to me to reflect the attitude we need to deal with our environmental problems, from invasive species to global climate change. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
I came across Michael Pollan's Second Nature by accident. As I was shelving the book, a force came over me demanding that I scan the pages. I did so and placed the book on the shelf, but then, minutes later, I was compelled to pick it up again. Something attracted me. Reading an entire book about gardening, however, was not appealing so I returned it to its shelf. I am mildly interested in nature, especially when it comes to making nature more "natural". But to read a book about it? No thank you. Needless to say, by the end of the day I had book in hand and was eager to get started.

In the vein the Thoreau, a much more contemporary Pollan addresses humanity's relationship with nature. He includes many personal anecdotes that are both comical and touching. He dives through the history of gardens from Europe to America to provide insight on our current perceptions of nature. With language that would rival many poets, Pollan examines the natural world we so often fail to recognize. He disputes the preconceived notion that the relationship between man and nature is irreconcilable. From the doctrine of weeds to the tyranny of the American lawn, Second Nature is filled with commentary that challenges everything we've ever known about the natural world.

Written in 1991, Second Nature will likely never be one of Pollan's more popular titles. Having read The Omnivore's Dilemma, I strongly believe Pollan's gardening manifesto to be the better of the two. The Omnivore's Dilemma is great if you're looking for an exposé on the agricultural and food industries; Second Nature fills in everywhere else, being a work of ethics, history, comedy, religion, literature, and, even more than being a book about gardening, philosophy. It is even romantic, as is found in the chapter on the sexuality of roses: "the hybrid roses don’t give more bloom, really, they just parcel their blooms out over a longer period; they save and reinvest. So instead of abandoning herself to one great climax of bloom, the rose now doles out her blossoms one by one, always holding back, forever on the verge, never quite... finishing (95)."

The book is conveniently divided into seasonal sections, and I do feel that Second Nature would be best enjoyed spread out over a year's time. There is much to consider, and I rather like the idea of using this book as a gardening devotional. It truly is a powerful book! ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 30, 2013 |
I like Michael Pollan just fine, although his extremely digressive style gets on my nerves probably more than it should. There were a lot of interesting tidbits in here - I particularly liked the analysis of the characters of various seed catalogs. I'm not quite sure I agree with his overall thesis, insofar as I was able to detect an overall thesis, but then, I don't actually garden. Definitely an interesting read on balance, though. ( )
  JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is a collection of essays about gardening arranged by the seasons.

I found this collection of essays on gardening to be a bit more long-winded and dense than Pollan’s more well known later books. While his ideas on the metaphor of the American lawn and the debate over whether we have the right to shape nature are very interesting, Pollan does show a tendency to over-analyze. After all, a garden should be the gardener’s private world, to shape and form as she likes. It really is that simple.

Read because I like the author (2007). ( )
  sturlington | Oct 27, 2011 |
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This book is the story of my education in the garden.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802140114, Paperback)

In his articles and in best-selling books such as The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern man’s place in the natural world. A new literary classic, Second Nature has become a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere. “As delicious a meditation on one man’s relationships with the Earth as any you are likely to come upon” (The New York Times Book Review), Second Nature captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation. With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn, a dispatch from one man’s war with a woodchuck, to an essay about the sexual politics of roses, Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for reconceiving our relationship with nature.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:13 -0400)

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One day, Harper's Magazine editor Michael Pollan bought an old Connecticut dairy farm. He planted a garden and attempted to follow Thoreau's example: do not impose your will upon the wilderness, the woodchucks, or the weeds. That ethic, of course, did not work. But neither did pesticides or firebombing the woodchuck burrow. So Pollan began to think about the troubled borders between nature and contemporary life. The result is a funny, profound, and beautifully written book which has become a classic of American nature writing. It inspires thoughts on the war of the roses; sex and class conflict in the garden; virtuous composting; the American lawn; seed catalogs, and the politics of planting a tree. A blend of meditation, autobiography, and social history, Second Nature is ultimately a modern Walden.--From publisher description.… (more)

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