This is a book about fungus. If you’re thinking “Huh, fungi are weird and I like learning new things,” you should pick up this book immediately. If you’re thinking “Ew, no. Mushrooms are gross,” you should pick up this book immediately because fungi (apparently!) are so much more than just mushrooms (which I learned are just the fruiting bodies of some fungi). In Entangled Life, Merlin Sheldrake, which may be the greatest name ever, begins by walking the reader through the basics of what fungi are and what their structures are like; he then shifts gears into how fungi affect other organisms in the world; he ends by discussing what humans are doing with fungi now to improve our world. This book is fantastic, and I never thought I would so highly recommend a book about fungus to other people.
First things first, I learned so much! Sheldrake has devoted his life to studying fungi and his expertise in the field shines through on every single page. Sheldrake understands the material well enough to also be able to present his knowledge of fungi to readers who have no background in biology, botany, ecology, mycology or any other related field. His explanations are understandable and clear. What I really liked about how Sheldrake presented everything is that he always played to what he believes to be the top of the reader’s intelligence. Things are obviously simplified but nothing is dumbed down. His explanations are understandable but I had to engage with the material. I, as a reader, felt respected.
If you’re able, I highly recommend you pick up the audiobook version of Entangled Life which is also narrated by Merlin Sheldrake. His love and reverence for fungi drips from his voice with every word. I love listening to people talk about things they love, and Sheldrake falls squarely into that category. He also has a rich, velvety voice that feels very appropriate when listening to book about fungus.