Cover Image: This Is Your Mind On Plants

This Is Your Mind On Plants

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Member Reviews

The author takes you on an informative ride where you get to know about plants used to alter the states of mind or in simple words to get high. Written with rich insight, the writing does not get dry and that is what I appreciate because that is lost on so many informative non fiction book. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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One word: Dull. A book about three incredibly interesting plants and their effects on the human mind. Or, so I thought when I decided to read it… Instead I was given 10% intriguing information, and 90% the life story of someone who I did not agree to read about. Overall, this was a relatively boring, unnecessary in personal details and not at all what I signed up for. Bleh.
I received an arc copy for review and leave this view voluntarily
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A really interesting and informative read, at some points it was a challenge but over all a good read.
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I would struggle to be able to review this book due to issues with the file/download. The issues stopped the flow of the book. The issues are:
- Missing words in the middle of sentences
- Stop/start sentences on different lines
- No clear definition of chapters. 

Not sure if it was a file/download issue but there were lots of gaps, stop/starts which really ruined the flow.
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I found this book a challenge. It starts with some bold claims regarding the rights and wrongs of just reading this sort of text In the eyes of the law and then tumbled into anecdotal evidence of the authors own experiences. The information within was interesting. It splits into focusing on three drugs; opium, caffeine and mescaline. The author is a writer and a gardener and quite happy to sample these plants for his own curiosity and research. 

As a British reader, i felt that the book was targeted at the American market. He raises questions about it being legal to buy seeds but it could be criminal to grow and harvest. 

I think the section on caffeine is most relevant to much of the population; we’re a nation of coffee drinkers and have been since the advent of coffee houses in the 17th century. Opium is much more relevant to the history books whilst the third section on mescaline - a substance derived from cacti and used by American Indians will probably have less significance to readers on this side of the pond, although still interesting for the facts alone. 

If you’re a fan of pollan’s writing style & enjoyed How To Change Your Mind, then you should enjoy this book. For me I found it a heavy read & would have probably enjoyed it more if I had consumed it as an audio book.
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Informative descriptions of plants used for mind enhancement. Well written around what could have been dry subjects.
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Very informative, would recommend! Thank you for providing an advance copy of this book for review!!
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This is a fascinating and very personal investigation into our relationship to and interaction with three plants. The writing style is both analytical and reflective. The explanations are enriched by the backstories and efforts to engage with the plants' effects. The 'research' is well-grounded in the literature and is effectively referenced.
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An absolute treat to read, Michael Pollan is a gifted and informative writer making this subject even more fascinating than it already was. 

A must read.
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Michale Pollan is an excellent writer, and it is always a great joy to read his books. Learning about opium, caffeine, and mescalin was exciting, and now I think of my relationship with coffee a lot more. Superb writing, good journalism, compelling subject, excellent book!
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A charming and holistic guidebook through the wonders of the bounty of nature.  Guiding us to be kinder to ourselves and the planet respectful and wise thank you
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Sorta interesting look at how plants affect the human brain. Not as easy to read as I'd hoped - Pollan often takes a long time to say nothing too remarkable - and, though the book does contain a lot of compelling and informative facts, there's nothing eye-popping here to make this a must-read for anyone.
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I love how this starts out with warnings about the legalities of the substances discussed. Gotta cover those legal disclaimers! The subject is a serious treatment of mind altering substances that come from plants. Some legal, some only legal in specific circumstances. The focus is on three main substances; opium, caffeine and mescaline.

Caffeine is of course accepted as legal in coffee, tea, colas and other common drinks. Opium is the basis of several pain killing drugs that are legal on prescription, including codeine and morphine. Mescaline plays a part in Native American religious rituals and is exempt from laws forbidding non-Native Americans when used on reservation property as part of a ritual.

The book is largely autobiographical but very interesting in the historical and legal information the author uncovers. The legalities are U.S. focused but surprising. I had no idea that in the late 1990s laws were passed that would allow the government to take your house and land away if they had cause to believe you might use it for growing opium poppies. You don't have to get caught growing the poppies, just have a case that makes it look like that could be your intent, supplied by owning dried poppies bought from the local florist and supported by owning legally licensed firearms.

Apparently this has been modified since, but the author had cause to believe his love of gardening beautiful flowers was putting him at severe risk of losing his family home and going to prison without ever having extracted opium from a poppy.

Scary stuff! So much for claiming the U.S. is a free country. Even more mind boggling is the misinformation put out by drug enforcement agencies that made it sound like opium poppies only grew in Asian climates and were a Ph.D level science project to process. Anyone who reads Victorian literature will know that common people in the cold fens grew their own poppies around their homes and pubs and extracted the opium, even feeding it to their children.

Only a little space was allotted to describing the experience of imbibing opium, yet it sounded very clear. Not having ever tried it myself, I can only go on the description. Caffeine, on the other hand, I'm very familiar with and found the description of its effects interesting in a different way. The fact that all three of these substances are grouped together as psychotropic drugs puts a new perspective on the commonality of caffeine drinks.

The history of caffeine use was very well researched and I have to admire the author's dedication in actually abstaining from it for three months to mark the differences and addictive power of caffeine, particularly in coffee. His description of the effects when he broke that abstention was partly amusing, but very enlightening. The medical information about how regular caffeine actually affects the body gives real food for thought.

Mescaline, the third and last substance dealt with here, comes from a few species of cactus, primarily the peyote cactus though several species collectively referred to as San Pedro cactus have a lesser amount of the drug. The author got himself into the enviable position of being allowed a tour of the primary growing place for peyote on the U.S./Mexico border with plans to participate in a genuine ritual, only to have it all pulled out from under him by the Covid pandemic and stay at home orders.

Not to be discouraged, he revisited the Aldous Huxley book, The Doors of Perception, which gives detailed information of the mescaline experience. This is described along with a series of events that places a cactus in the author's garden, thereby crossing the line into illegality.

The rest of that chapter showed his persistence to research his subject and to his credit, his growing understanding of the meaning and nature of the cactus to the Native American culture. I found this book informative in so many ways! 

The amount of research both historical and cultural, not to mention hands on, makes this book authoritative and concise. An impressive accomplishment.
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This book is absolutely fascinating, especially to me as a pharmacist. That said I think I would have enjoyed it more had it focussed less on the authors illicit drug taking - but that’s just because I’m a pharmacist! I found the caffeine section to be the most interesting with lots of new facts. It was a slow read for me, partly because of the content but also because my NetGalley ARC version was missing every ‘ff’ ‘fl’ and ‘fi’ meaning I had to guess a lot of words.. for instance flower became ower. Doesn’t take away from the content of the book though and I have found it interesting!
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This was an interesting book, but not written at all how I expected. That said, it was very informative, and I came away with knowledge that I didn’t have before reading this. 

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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Would have enjoyed it more if it was less about the author's experiences of drug use, and more about the 'drugs'. Less memoir/personal, more informative, science-based essays . However, having read Pollan before, I should have gathered that this would be the case . I like the 'Caffeine' section best. Even though it can get a bit self-indulgent, I appreciate that Pollan backs his theories up with neat references.
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I feel like I had higher expectations from the book, maybe because of the title, I don't know. Anyway, I thought it would be much more about the plants themselves than the author's experience with the three plants mentioned in the book. Still, I learned some interesting facts about the mescaline, the opium and even the coffee.
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Humans have used natural plants to alter mood for thousands of years and here Pollan explores three.  Opium, illegal and powerful yet opiates are the greatest drug problem of our time.  Caffeine, the daily drug of choice for many.  Mescaline, associated with mind-altering.
I found the book somewhat patchy and very nearly gave up during the section on opium.  This just came across as a repetitive and overly wordy exploration of legalities.  the section on caffeine, by contrast, was great - interesting and relevant with a good balance of personal and social/historical.  Finally mescaline was a little self-indulgent but had interesting sections of Native American culture which just about saved it.  the book is essentially three very long essays!
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I learned a lot reading this as it's well researched, well written and informative.
It's thought provoking and it made me reflect on mind altering plants and their role in history.
An excellent and highly recommended book.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This Is Your Mind On Plants is a thought-provoking exploration of opium, caffeine and mescaline, three very different mind-altering substances that start as plants. Michael Pollan does a good job of blending memoir with history and science as he clearly did research on the topics at hand, but also shares his own experience with the drugs. I can see plenty of discussion being sparked from this book. I'll certainly read more Pollan in the future.
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