Reader Review: This Is Your Mind on Plants

This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan book coverThis Is Your Mind on Plants” tells the story of psychoactive drugs derived from plants through two approaches: research-based journalism/history and experiential memoir. It focuses on three chemicals (opium, caffeine and mescaline) and the plants that make them as a way of exploring the larger history and meaning of our use of plants medicinally, spiritually and recreationally.

I enjoyed author Michael Pollan’s sense of humor and ability to make complex ideas approachable. I also appreciated that he maintained a healthy skepticism towards all views of consciousness-changing drugs, suspicious of both those who exploit them and those who seek to totally prohibit their use.

The discussion of caffeine was particularly interesting because so few people conceptualize it as a psychoactive, habit-forming drug now, but it was incredibly controversial whenever it was introduced to a part of the world where it had not been known before. Pollan tied the specific history of coffee to wider subjects such as colonialism and industrialization, making compelling arguments that they were inextricably tied together.

The author narrates the audiobook version and does an excellent job of it, taking a straightforward, conversational tone that underscores the social and emotional realities present in the historical and scientific data.

Three words that describe this book: informative, thought-provoking, surprising

You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in social history from the 1700s to the present day and the ways in which views of drugs have changed over time.



This reader review was previously submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share these throughout the year.

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