Posted by: montclairlibrary | August 30, 2017

The Secret Life of Plants

Books about plants, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

If your garden at the end of summer has you wondering about the profusion of plant life you see around you, pick up one of these books about plants and botany. Geared towards non-scientists curious about the natural world, they cover the range from what’s going on inside a plant to how plants have shaped human civilization and history, with a dose of introspection and personal experience thrown in.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (570.92 JAHREN) – Geobiologist Jahren writes about her life and what she’s learned from and about trees, flowers, seeds and soil, “in prose that takes your breath away.”

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (306.45 POLLAN) (not at Montclair) – How the histories of apples, tulips, potatoes and pot are entwined with the history of humans, from the always insightful Pollan.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart (581.65 STEWART) (not at Montclair) – Alphabetically arranged entries on dangerous and illegal plants, including a tree that sheds poison daggers, a glistening red seed that stops the heart, a shrub that causes paralysis and a leaf that triggered a war.

Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden by Diane Ackerman (508 ACKERMAN) – Ackerman takes readers deep into her own garden, mixing science with lyrical, inspired writing to offer a sensory celebration of her encounter with the natural world.

The Cabaret of Plants: Forty Thousand Years of Plant Life and the Human Imagination by Richard Mabey (580 MABEY) – Going back to the beginnings of human history, Mabey shows how flowers, trees and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths and symbols of war and peace, life and death.

A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants by Ruth Kassinger (580.92 KASSINGER) (not at Montclair) – “A witty and engaging history of the first botanists interwoven with stories of today’s extraordinary plants found in the garden and the lab.” (Publisher)

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson (581.467 HANSON) (not at Montclair) – A guide to seeds that explains their importance to nature and humanity, describing their role in such events as the Age of Discovery, the American Civil War and the Industrial Revolution.

What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz (571.2 CHAMOVITZ) (not at Montclair) – Explores how a plant experiences the world.

The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf (e-book) – The story of how six 18th century men like Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks created the modern garden and changed the horticultural world in the process.
(Wulf also wrote Founding Gardeners, which looks at the founding fathers from the perspective of their lives as gardeners and farmers.)

The Private Life of Plants by David Attenborough (OVERSIZE 581.5 ATTENBORO) – An intimate view of the multitude of miniature dramas that unfold as plants avoid predators, find food, increase their territory, reproduce and obtain sunlight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: