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Publisher's Summary

The instant New York Times best seller | A Washington Post Notable Book | One of NPR's Best Books of the Year

“Expert storytelling.... [Pollan] masterfully elevates a series of big questions about drugs, plants and humans that are likely to leave readers thinking in new ways.” (New York Times Book Review)

From number one New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan, a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants - and the equally powerful taboos.

Of all the things humans rely on plants for - sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber - surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: People around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. But we do not usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So, then, what is a “drug”? And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime?

In This Is Your Mind on Plants, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs - opium, caffeine, and mescaline - and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and fraught feelings?

In this unique blend of history, science, and memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively - as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that is one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay published almost twenty-five years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world.

©2021 Michael Pollan (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“Delightful...[This Is Your Mind on Plants] aims to collapse the distinctions between legal and illegal, medical and recreational, exotic and everyday, by appealing to the principle that unites the three: the affinities between plant biochemistry and the human mind.” (New York Review of Books)

“[A] thoughtful study.... As the U.S.’s drug policies become less punitive, [Pollan] argues, we should think more clearly about substances we’ve come to depend on.” (The New Yorker)

“[A] wonderful and compelling read that will leave you thinking long after you set it down.... Pollan is an astonishingly good writer, at times intimate and vulnerable, at times curious and expository, always compelling and credible. Reading his writing can be kind of like taking a psychedelic - a literary onomatopoeia.” (Washington Post

What listeners say about This Is Your Mind on Plants

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Great listen

This book was a fun listen, and very informative. The portion on caffeine was especially good. It certainly changed my perspective on the drug. I highly recommend it.

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Loved it!

Michael Pollan's narration is wonderfully engaging.
He puts his mind, body, spirit into this book.

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Revolutionary

One simple word can sum up the message of this wonderful and eye opening book - Revolutionary

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Excellent listen

Another great work from Michael Pollan! Top quality narration and enjoyable from start to finish

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Great book, even better to buy with $FJB

So everyone should definitely checkout $FJB
It's the only coin donating to charity $50k already

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May I Suggest a great book?

it's a simple & easy listen, that definitely leaves you wanting more, specifically the poppy plants, I feel like I have so man unanswered questions that I never had before reading the book, lol. Although I do love Coffee, I found this a little our of my range of interest. But painless easy listening still. The last chapters it picks back up again in the Usual Michael Polland way. His quirky humor, is a definite bonus.

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Wonderful book

I really enjoyed this book. I first listened to the audible book.. Caffeine and really enjoyed the expanded chapter on this subject. Michael Pollan is an excellent narrator as well. Look forward to more books by this author.

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Superb as always!

Michael Pollan never ceases to amaze! Another fantastic book that challenges societies preconceived notions about consciousness and delves into the power of plants to access the subconscious mind. Both educational and entertaining, the author will always be one of my favourites!

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  • Jeff W.
  • 2021-07-07

This is a clip show.

I heard about this book from a very famous podcast. That episode was very interesting so I bought this associated audiobook.

This is a clip-show story told in three acts.

Act one, about poppies, is actually a re-edit of a story the author wrote and published 25 years ago. It's an interesting topic that piqued my interest to do my own research.

Act two, about caffeine, is also a re-edit of a story the author told in 2020. The inclusion of this act seems misplaced and added as an afterthought to stretch the book.

Act three, about mescaline, is the only new source material, and is the heart of this book. It encompasses two mild hallucinogenic experiences the author has. While the story is mildly entertaining, it's a milquetoast experience stretched out from rather thin material.

In summary, the composition of this book feels a bit deceptive. Clip shows are something I dispise in television, and aren't any better in print. Selling an eight hour audiobook centered around 3 hours of fresh material is a practice that I do not appreciate. I do not recommend this book.

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  • Mike
  • 2021-07-17

Interesting and informative

Not as good as How to Change Your Mind, but the information on opium and mescaline was very interesting. The caffeine chapter is basically identical to a standalone audiobook called Caffeine available free on Audible, so if you've heard that already you can skip the whole chapter in caffeine in this book.

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  • MaleShoppingAdict
  • 2021-07-09

Great but beware of Caffeine

All around great insight into a few plants and Pollans personal journey with them. If, like me, you happened to find with work on Caffeine right before this, then you should know its part of this book in its entirety, leaving a large section to skip or relisten to.

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  • Candy
  • 2021-07-14

Pollan at his best!

Although I felt I've already read parts of this book, which I actually have, having listened to Caffeine and Botany of Desire, it is always a pleasure to embark on a journey with Michael Pollan, especially when he reads his own work. As always, Pollan's research, delightful prose and personal insights filled my hours, all too few, with new factoids and things to contemplate. I always enjoy his writings from the beginning with 'Second Nature' and 'A Place of My Own' to 'Omnivores Dilemma ' and ' Cooked'. Now, into new frontiers, he leads the way again, letting us share in his journey of discovery.
Thank You!

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  • john f payne
  • 2021-07-08

A late blooming flower.

Michael Pollan has always written well. This work is a view into a personal blooming.

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  • Ben
  • 2021-07-08

Pollan fans enjoy!

Very familiar presentation style for listeners of Pollan's previous offerings. This Author's sincerity and vulnerability shine in lockstep with his scientific due diligence. I really enjoyed this book! Chapters are well organized and fans are rewarded while newcomers are welcomed seamlessly into the fold.

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  • Debbie Furlow
  • 2021-07-07

Great book with fun to listen to

I listened to this author on Joe Rogan the day his book was released. Very fascinating and enjoyed listening to it.

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  • Christine Ciana Calabrese
  • 2021-07-18

Thoroughly enjoyable!

Thanks to the author, I have now kicked caffeine (except for weekends!) ;) Very educational audiobook and very entertaining!

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  • Angel Ahh
  • 2021-07-18

Important and engaging read

Michael Pollan’s journey with three plants: opium poppies, coffee, and mescaline-containing cacti, is an important book at this time where the Decriminalize Nature movement is gaining steam across the country. His book is both personal and historical. If Terrance McKenna’s “Food of the Gods” and Johann Hari’s “Chasing the Scream” were to have a baby, “Your Mind on Plants” would be it.
My full review is here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CRXkY0rBd8b/?utm_medium=copy_link

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-07-13

Pleasant read, but not his best

With the book divided into three separate sections, I figured there would be a deeper connection across them in which I could understand a deeper meaning. Unfortunately, each piece of the book feels as though, and which it actually is, written disjointedly, in separate periods of time from each other. While each part of the book is well written in its own regard, the book does little to tie it all together aside from the idea that, “hey they’re all plants, that should be good enough!” I don’t agree. If you find yourself interested even in the slightest from this book, then I strongly encourage those to read Pollan’s previous work, and one of my favorite writings of all time, How to Change Your Mind. I’d like to thank Mr. Pollan however for the handful of hours I spent entertaining myself with this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Erwan
  • 2022-07-19

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Michael Pollan is just great ! Many thanks for your work and free mind