I seem to have begun to collect books on fungi. There is a lot to learn, and even if the books are telling me the same thing in a different way, I figure it's helping the information stick. Some I started via audio books, particlarly Entangled Life, which I listened to on my solo journey to Tasmania in fungi season a while back. I loved it so much I ordered it when I got back. There's something to be said for physical copies.
First of all, you gotta love a good mushroom identification book. This is an old school one we've had for years and years, and it still stands us in good stead.
One of the things I love about it is it's identification flow chart which goes for a few pages. It really helps you learn to identify by looking at the parts of the mushroom. I keep finding myself coming back to this book over and over before I go further.
The illustrations are just lovely as well - it's a beautifully presented book. I have no idea why Amazon is advertising a new copy for $668 - are you kidding? It was published in 1996 so maybe they don't print it any more. I know they've done at least one other guide which I might get as well.
Wild Mushrooming: Alison Pouliot and Tom May
Really everyone should also have mushroom id books specific to their area as well as more broad ones. This one is Aussie based, and the foraging community keep recommending it at the moment so I bought it. It's definitely interesting to read about Australian mushrooms and where they might be found, and it's a modern, well produced book with glossy pages. There's also a good recipe section at the back with recipes from Australian chefs, foragers and mycologists.
Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
“Fungi make worlds. They also unmake them. There are lots of ways to catch them in the act. When you cook mushroom soup, or just eat it. When you go out gathering mushrooms, or buy them. When you ferment alcohol, plant a plant, or just bury your hands in the soil; and whether you let a fungus into your mind, or marvel at the way that it might enter the mind of another. Whether you’re cured by a fungus, or watch it cure someone else; whether you build your home from fungi, or start growing mushrooms in your home, fungi will catch you in the act. If you’re alive, they already have.”
This is the book that will change your entire life. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I adored this book - it opened me up to the world of biology and along with 'Braiding Sweetgrass' it changed my way of thinking about books about botany, realising they can be fascinating, poetic and mind opening. Who would have thought lichens could be so interesting? It was the first book I read on fungi so a lot of stuff I was learning for the first time, like how fungi has been around since the beginning and if it wasn't for fungi, we wouldn't have tall trees! There's a good chapter on psilocin as well, and on truffles. If you're going to get any mushroom book, get this one.
In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms
This one I've yet to order, but have been enjoying it thoroughly. It covers much the same as Entangled Life, but dives into citizen science and how they help with understanding fungi and mapping it. I love a lot of his fun words that enter my brain and explode - mycophiles, fungal literacy, biophilia. I love his largely informal tone and interaction with the subcultures that have formed around mushrooms, exploring the communities that have mycellium at their heart, from academics to business people to indigenous groups and mycoremediation of damaged landscapes. It's a great follow up to Sheldrake's book.
Christopher Hobbs: Medicinal Mushrooms, The Essential Guide
This is a good one for anyone that grows or forages medicinal mushrooms, from turkeytail to reishi, cordyceps and so on. He shares some of his methods for tincturing and making powders, and there's a fair share of science too, explaining the benefits of mushrooms. I learnt alot about betaglucans from this book and liked it's practical nature, plus, Hobbs is really well known in this world. I'd also like to get the one by Paul Stamets which would be a great addition too.
The Allure of Fungi Alison Poirot
I loved this book because it's Australian, mostly. She's an Aussie mycologist that has explored the world of fungi both here and overseas. It's full of photographs and a lot of text that centres understanding around the Australian landscape, mostly. That's what I was missing - most of the books were American and I wanted to know more about fungi in the place I was living in. My only issue was that the print so so darn small! I'm still reading it at the moment, having just finished the chapter on mushrooms and language. IN many cultures 'mushroom' is seen in a negative light - they're seen as a source of disease or are feared as a poison. That gets into what we say, for example 'crime is mushrooming in the suburbs'. That's the thing about reading about fungi - there's all these interesting tangents that people go off on, from spirituality to the origin of language to bioremediation to gastronomy to literature and everything in between.
What's your favourite book on fungi? Do you have one on your wishlist?
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