Fascinating. This Is Your Mind on Plants is Pollan’s nature journal cum memoir. He explores three consciousness altering plant drugs- opium, caffeine, and mescaline. Pollan shares anecdotes about his personal encounters with each of these plants with wholesome honesty, respect and inspiring open-mindedness.
The book is divided into three sections, each dedicated to one plant. In the case of the section on poppy plants, Pollan treads the strange and fine legal line that separates a poppy plant gardner and a poppy plant gardner with the intention to harvest poppy seeds. In the section on the coffee plant, there is so much interesting history and culture I had no idea about. But the bravest and most entertaining act Pollan does for this book is to give up coffee for three whole months. I am not a fan of coffee because it doesn’t suit my body, but Pollan made me wish I could reap the benefits and savor the joy of coffee. Finally, in the chapter on the mescaline producing peyote cactus I learned about a world I didn’t even know existed. For the indigenous tribes and Native Americans, peyote is sacred and becoming scarce enough that they do not want the plant to be decriminalized. It is thoroughly fascinating.
I picked this book up because of the gorgeous cover art. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author so it ended up being an exciting discovery. I listened to the audiobook and it is the first of Pollan’s books I’ve read. His storytelling style and personal anecdotes are what make a book about the history, legality, culture, and politics surrounding three plants gripping- a subject that could have easily been plain boring. This Is Your Mind on Plants is a highly entertaining education.