From bread to booze to the very fiber of life, the world turns on fungi, and Sheldrake provides a top-notch portrait.

ENTANGLED LIFE

HOW FUNGI MAKE OUR WORLDS, CHANGE OUR MINDS & SHAPE OUR FUTURES

A deep-running mycological inquiry from fungal biologist Sheldrake.

“Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways that we think, feel, and behave,” writes the author in this delightfully granular debut book. “Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view, and over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.” Fungi are busy everywhere, from the bottom of the sea to the recesses of your nostrils, ranging in size from the microscopic to sprawling networks that are among the largest organisms on Earth. Sheldrake does an excellent job conveying just how essential fungi are to the processes of life—“as regenerators, recyclers, and networkers that stitch worlds together”—despite the fact that so little of their operations is fully understood. Sheldrake shows how fungal lives have made him rethink what he thought he knew about evolution, ecosystems, intelligence, and life. The author engagingly instructs on the symbiotic relationship between fungi and the roots of seed plants. “Today,” he writes, “more than ninety percent of all plant species depend on mycorrhizal fungi,” creating an “intimate partnership…complete with cooperation, conflict, and competition.” Sheldrake also explores the curious lives of truffles and lichen (“A portion of the minerals in your body is likely to have passed through a lichen at some point”), the evolutionary advantages of ingesting psilocybin mushrooms, and the idea that algae made it out of water and onto dry land only with the help of fungi. Certainly one of the most vital and fascinating aspects of fungi has to do with environmental remediation. “Human waste streams are being reimagined in terms of fungal appetites,” writes the author, who notes how mycological solutions have been deployed in the service of corralling oil spills, combating honeybees’ colony collapse disorder, and creating building materials, from sustainable, biodegradable furniture to entire buildings.

From bread to booze to the very fiber of life, the world turns on fungi, and Sheldrake provides a top-notch portrait. (b/w illustrations)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51031-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A meandering chronicle of a year on the road.

FREEDOM

The bestselling author explores the lure of nomadism.

At the age of 51, childless and soon to be divorced, Junger spent much of one year walking 400 miles alongside railroad lines in the eastern U.S. with a changing cast of three companions and his dog. They called their trek “the Last Patrol”: an escape, “a temporary injunction against whatever was coming,” and an interlude of freedom from the restrictions and demands of conventional life. Because the swaths of property alongside railroad lines were “the least monitored” land in the country, it seemed a safe choice for the wanderers, who did not want to be mistaken for vagrants. “Most nights,” Junger notes, “we were the only people in the world who knew where we were.” The author’s contemplative, digressive narrative combines vivid details of the walk, which was completed in several segments, with political, social, and cultural history; anthropology; and science. He ruminates on nomadic society, hunter-gatherers, Indigenous peoples, the perilous escapes of runaway slaves, various wars, and conflicts that include Cain’s jealousy of Abel and Ireland’s Easter uprising. Sometimes these musings involve considerations of freedom; not always. “Throughout history,” he writes, “good people and bad have maintained their freedom by simply staying out of reach of those who would deprive them of it. That generally meant walking a lot.” Nomadism has romantic appeal for Junger, just as, he claims, it has had for “the settled world.” To hunter-gatherers, working the land seemed a form of subservience; nomadic societies, asserts the author, were more equitable than societies centered around land ownership. Among hunter-gatherers, “although leaders understandably had more prestige than other people, they didn’t have more rights.” Although the trip did not yield epiphanies, Junger finally arrived at a place where he decided to stop wandering and step into his future. It was time “to face my life.”

A meandering chronicle of a year on the road.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982153-41-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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