Book Club: Entangled Life

Once in a while, we invite a member of our commmunity to share a book that inspires them.

Today's book recommendation is from one of our float guides, Adilah.

What drew you to pick up this book?

I have always been fascinated by fungi through some of my favourite foods like bread, tempeh, and cheese. During lockdown, I noticed an influx of fairy rings dotting the grass in my neighbourhood but wasn’t certain if they were edible, so I was inspired to give mushroom growing a go at home.

I was also recommended a video of Sheldrake eating mushrooms that was sprouting out of his book, perhaps from listening to his brother’s music. Thought ‘what a mysterious weirdo’ while watching him literally eating his words, but it was also endearing and that was the start of my fungi fantasy.

What's something interesting you've learnt?

There are a couple of whimsical observations from fermentation baths to psychedelic trips, but it was the non-trippy relatives’ potential to solve environmental issues that excited me the most. This includes medicinal fungi to protect the collapse of bees, and also using mycelium to turn agricultural waste into building material and consumer packaging.

“Composers make pieces of music. These were decomposers, who unmake pieces of life. Nothing could happen without them.”

—Merlin Sheldrake, author of Entangled Life

Is there anything that's inspired you while reading it?

Fungi inspired curiosity and hope for me. Whether they are a blessing or a nuisance, these exuberant organisms are largely still undocumented and often overlooked even though they are a vital part of our ecosystem. I realised that when you start paying more attention and drawing connections to things that are otherwise mundane or ignored, you will then experience life with more intimacy and magic. Following catastrophic events like the Hiroshima bombing and Chernobyl blast, fungi were among the earliest to appear, including the highly coveted Matsutake. The resilient nature of fungi serves a good reminder for me to survive, or even thrive despite all odds.

Read this book if you...

want to dive deep underground into the Wood Wide Web and make a little more sense of this wild world.