Thursday, April 19, 2007

Author Spotlight: Michael Pollan

I'm deferring our young readers spotlight to next Tuesday, when I'll be privileged to be one of the readers at Mt. Tabor Elementary School. It was a delightful experience last year, and I look forward to it.

Here's an author you'll want to get familiar with - Michael Pollan. His current rousing bestseller is The Omnivore's Dilemma, but he's been a prolific writer for about a decade. What's most intriguing about Pollan is his choice of topics.

A Place of My Own is the writer's reflections on the meaning and building of "home," as drawn from his experience in building a wooden hut in the woods near his Connecticut home. At first blush, you might suspect it to be dry, but just a few minutes reading will make you a fan. Each tangent reveals a fertile mind, and the narrative essays draw you inexorably toward the author's central theses.

The Botany of Desire is even more unlikely, but even more enjoyable. The book is categorized as "human plant relationships," an incongruous connection, but it works. He uses botany to explore four basic human desires - sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control -through portraits of four plants that embody them: the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato.

We carry all three. Check them out.

What I'm reading: Breaking Open Japan: Commodore Perry, Lord Abe & American Imperialism in 1853 by George Feifer

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