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Second Nature

A Gardener's Education
Written by: Michael Pollan
Narrated by: Michael Pollan
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4.6 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In his articles and in best-selling books such as The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan has established himself as one of our most important and beloved writers on modern man's place in the natural world. A new literary classic, Second Nature has become a manifesto not just for gardeners but for environmentalists everywhere.

Chosen by the American Horticultural Society as one of the 75 greatest books ever written about gardening, Second Nature captures the rhythms of our everyday engagement with the outdoors in all its glory and exasperation. With chapters ranging from a reconsideration of the Great American Lawn, a dispatch from one man's war with a woodchuck, to an essay about the sexual politics of roses, Pollan has created a passionate and eloquent argument for reconceiving our relationship with nature.

©2003 Michael Pollan (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

Second Nature reads like brilliant entertainment, but it is serious wisdom. Michael Pollan…is a genuine heir to my favorite nature writer, Mark Twain.” (Simon Schama, The Boston Globe)

What listeners say about Second Nature

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  • twirling dancer
  • 2015-03-20

The garden will always be a work in progress...

What did you love best about Second Nature?

I'm impressed by Pollan's ability to combine history, folklore, sound gardening advice, shopping tips, environmental issues, politics, and his own experience, into one coherent and interesting story. I'm thinking about my own property differently, considering old roses over hybrids, and heirloom seed catalogues after reading this book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Second Nature?

The cathedral pines section of the book was devastating... I was holding on, waiting for the humans to get it right in a happy ending. I also enjoyed the parts about Pollan's grandpa and father, and how they managed their gardens, lawns, and neighbors.

What does Michael Pollan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I really like his narration style and I wish more non-fiction authors would narrate their own books. The emphasis he puts on the sentence structure is just right for what he wrote.

Many nonfiction books available here on audible.com are read in a boring monotone voice. It's so unnatural and personally I find it unpleasant. That is not the case here. Listening to him narrate his own book has been so great in fact that I'm now listening to his newer book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

Any additional comments?

It was neat to hear the history of lawns, gardens, and yards, in America. Pollan's background in journalism is obvious as he keeps this topic interesting and easy to follow. I have bees, chickens, and a small garden, and loved listening this book. If you enjoy playing in the dirt; check this book out.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 2012-02-05

Love Pollan, don't love this (but you might)

Any additional comments?

I love Michael Pollan's books The Omnivore's Dilemma, and the Botany of Desire. Sweeping history or cultural commentary, a real understanding of humanity's relation to food and plants. However, this book is about his experience of growing a garden - it's more autobiographical. More slow and meditative than sweeping. If you like that kind of thing, he's a fabulous writer so you'll enjoy this. It's just not what I expected after reading the other two books.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 2014-01-29

Fun read for gardeners

I loved this book! It's full of gardening history and facts, along with Michael Pollan's observations about his own garden and the gardening scene. I especially enjoyed his comparison of plant and seed catalogs (very funny) and his history of roses (informative and entertaining). I listened to this book while weeding my own garden, and found myself laughing out loud several times. I will definitely listen to this book again.

7 people found this helpful

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  • A reader
  • 2010-03-21

Lush no-nonsensical brilliance

This book already bears what Pollan will bring to perfection in Botany of Desire: cross pollination between science, history, cultural and human sociology, poetry, sheer observation, hands-on experience, tenderness, and humor. A book that enriches, teaches, entertains, and pleases enormously. The unassuming tone of Pollan's voice at every "turn of a page" gently invites the reader to follow the author along his thinking process. And the reader obliges gleefully. A perfect read anytime of year, but probably even more appropriate for the spring.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Shellbin
  • 2010-09-28

Pollan's done it again

A brilliant book, and a real treat to have Pollan himself narrate it. It's about gardening, yes, but also about Nature and our place in her. Laugh out loud funny in spots (who knew that an in-depth discussion of seed catalogues could be so hilarious?) Second Nature is a book that has the ability to challenge assumptions and cause us to look at our environment(s) in new ways. Definitely not just for gardeners!

12 people found this helpful

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  • J. Shultz
  • 2019-02-03

another great book by Micheal Pollan

I've loved all of Pollans books and this is no exception.....of course, it's much better with him reading it..... Worth the time to listen

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  • Ramon Rosario
  • 2019-01-28

great!

a modern-day Walden! the author both eases and stimulates the mind on a journey through a path in the garden

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  • William Shelby
  • 2018-08-22

Michael Pollan makes me feel smarter.

In this book, as in every book of his I have read, Michael Pollan puts my experiences and aspirations into words I have not had the capacity (or time) to develop. He tells me how I feel about my garden, about the food I eat, and how to open my mind. And sometimes what he tells me about myself are my own original thoughts. He writes with great ease and I feel like he is speaking right to me. He does his homework and he puts deep thought into the interconnectedness of everything with everything else in time and space. In a world that seems to value intellectual growth less and less, Michael Pollan makes it virtuous again. How else will we be better than we are if we don't explore where we have been, why we have built the conventions of our societies in the way we have, and why we should re-think them to fit our lives and times?

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  • Paul Z.
  • 2010-06-18

Not Bad

This book is a nice light read, though I have to say from glowing review of American Horticultural Society I was really expecting more. On one hand he states our shared criticism of Thoreau very well, yet in many ways he is writing his own updated version of Walden. There are tidbits of philosophy, history, science and art which make this a fun and encouraging read for a gardener, or someone who wishes to start gardening. On the other hand if you are looking for real philosophy, history, science or art in gardening (or biology/agroscience) you will probably want to pick up another book.

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  • "TigerLily" Gonzalez
  • 2019-10-28

Looking forward to a second read!!!

Loved the personal stories about his family, especially his grandfather. Hadn't heard a Felix Unger reference in ages!! Learned a ton and am inspired greatly. Highly recommend this book for anyone contemplating working with nature.

2 people found this helpful