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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds,…
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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our… (original 2020; edition 2021)

by Merlin Sheldrake (Author)

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1,0172417,143 (4.2)38
"Living at the border between life and non-life, fungi use diverse cocktails of potent enzymes and acids to disassemble some of the most stubborn substances on the planet, turning rock into soil and wood into compost, allowing plants to grow. Fungi not only help create soil, they send out networks of tubes that enmesh roots and link plants together in the "Wood Wide Web." Fungi also drive many long-standing human fascinations: from yeasts that cause bread to rise and orchestrate the fermentation of sugar into alcohol; to psychedelic fungi; to the mold that produces penicillin and revolutionized modern medicine. And we can partner with fungi to heal the damage we've done to the planet. Fungi are already being used to make sustainable building materials and wearable leather, but they can do so much more. Fungi can digest many stubborn and toxic pollutants from crude oil to human-made polyurethane plastics and the explosive TNT. They can grow food from renewable sources: edible mushrooms can be grown on anything from plant waste to cigarette butts. And some fungi's antiviral compounds might be able to ease the colony collapse of bees. Merlin Sheldrake's revelatory introduction to this world will show us how fungi, and our relationships with them, are more astonishing than we could have imagined. Bringing to light science's latest discoveries and ingeniously parsing the varieties and behaviors of the fungi themselves, he points us toward the fundamental questions about the nature of intelligence and identity this massively diverse, little understood kingdom provokes"--… (more)
Member:ChersBooks
Title:Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
Authors:Merlin Sheldrake (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2021), Edition: Reprint, 368 pages
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Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (2020)

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Fascinating book on fungi. It is equal parts philosophical and science. Informative but engaging. Gives me hope that the world will always regenerate, and i am a tiny thing that doesnt matter in the grand scheme of things. Life is powerful and will not die, even when we fade. ( )
  aezull | Sep 17, 2022 |
bcc
  fjp32 | Jul 28, 2022 |
Still reading, but so far:

Interesting to take a closer look at this huge area of live, living beings, our world.

Scientist and journalist enthralled by their own language skills the stories are hard to fathom. While some readers might enjoy the richness (?) of the language, the twist, turns and fanciful word usage - it distracted me from the actual stories about fungi for which I read.

Two areas mentioned - deep underground mycelic networks and in person fungi - are not explored with information, or their own chapter. This is most lamentable, as these are the areas that seem least well known in the public sphere - or at least not reaching me, whereas most other areas explored seem much more publicized in news. ( )
  andreas.wpv | Jul 10, 2022 |
I love to eat mushrooms and always think they are neat when they pop up out of the ground after a rain but, like most people, I don't spend much time thinking about fungi in general. Mycologist Merlin Sheldrake, on the other hand, thinks about fungi all the dang time and after reading this wide-ranging exploration of the life form I don't think I'll ever see the world the same way again.

Being humans, we are rather human-centric in our perspective of the world, and when we aren't being human-centric, we are animal-centric or, at the very least, plant-centric. When we acknowledge fungi at all, it is in how they affect us (penicillin, truffles, psylocibin, yeast, etc.) or possibly how they help plants we like to eat by doing things like bringing nitrogen to their roots. Mycelial networks, however, are much more complicated and more integral to our lives than I had ever been taught. They are, in some sense, responsible for us having lives at all! We have evolved in tandem with the fungal networks that inhabit our soil, our food, and our bodies. Lichen (an unusual lifeform that is a combination of fungus and algae), for example, was one of the first life forms on dry land and by breaking down rocks into soil and organic components, it made it possible for plants to establish themselves and animal life to emerge from the sea. They can also survive ON THE OUTSIDE OF A SPACESHIP!

Sheldrake deftly pulls together information, interviews, research, and personal reflection (and self-experimentation) on all different aspects of the fungal world. He is an enthusiastic guide with a lyrical and unique writing style that is much different from other popular science writers I've read. As I worked my way through this mycological world, my perspective shifted from seeing what fungi could do for humans to seeing how humans have become just another part of a fungal network that started long before we were here and, I'm sure, will be here long after we are gone.

Highly recommend this unusual and mind-expanding book! ( )
  kristykay22 | Jun 18, 2022 |
This is a fascinating look at the current state of research on fungi. It makes it clear that fungi are absolutely fundamental to life on earth, yet we are only just beginning to understand them. It's impressive how much of the research discussed in this book has only happened in the past 20 years or so, and how much more there is to learn.

The book also unintentionally makes it clear why some of this research hasn't been done sooner, and it's because mycologists are, well, kind of weird. You can't study mycology without also studying the psychedelic effects of mushrooms and the intoxicating effects of fermented foods, and Sheldrake, like a lot of mycologists, is willing to experiment on himself. A lot of pioneers of mycology began studying mushrooms because they were interested in the psychedelic, so the whole field has a very different history than other areas of biology.

Fungi are fascinating because they thrive by making connections with other living things, to the point that it is hard to separate them from other living things and they challenge our ideas of what an "individual" or a "species" is. The most obvious example is lichens, but even lichens turn out to be far more complicated than we previously thought. Fungi have an amazing capacity to connect with algae, bacteria, and plants and to facilitate connections between other living things. They are also remarkably adaptable and can consume just about everything. We are just beginning to understand how they can be used to consume human and industrial waste, and how they can be used to create everything from faux leather to houses. ( )
  Gwendydd | May 22, 2022 |
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With gratitude to the fungi from which I have learned.
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Fungi are everywhere but they are easy to miss.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Living at the border between life and non-life, fungi use diverse cocktails of potent enzymes and acids to disassemble some of the most stubborn substances on the planet, turning rock into soil and wood into compost, allowing plants to grow. Fungi not only help create soil, they send out networks of tubes that enmesh roots and link plants together in the "Wood Wide Web." Fungi also drive many long-standing human fascinations: from yeasts that cause bread to rise and orchestrate the fermentation of sugar into alcohol; to psychedelic fungi; to the mold that produces penicillin and revolutionized modern medicine. And we can partner with fungi to heal the damage we've done to the planet. Fungi are already being used to make sustainable building materials and wearable leather, but they can do so much more. Fungi can digest many stubborn and toxic pollutants from crude oil to human-made polyurethane plastics and the explosive TNT. They can grow food from renewable sources: edible mushrooms can be grown on anything from plant waste to cigarette butts. And some fungi's antiviral compounds might be able to ease the colony collapse of bees. Merlin Sheldrake's revelatory introduction to this world will show us how fungi, and our relationships with them, are more astonishing than we could have imagined. Bringing to light science's latest discoveries and ingeniously parsing the varieties and behaviors of the fungi themselves, he points us toward the fundamental questions about the nature of intelligence and identity this massively diverse, little understood kingdom provokes"--

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