Harris Center Reads: Mushrooms

October 1, 2020
An open book with illustrations of mushrooms on the righthand page and text on the left. (photo ©Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash)

Go Mad for Mushrooms!

Welcome to Harris Center Reads — a monthly, curated list of good reads for curious naturalists of all ages! Some people eat mushrooms as a delicacy, while others seek cures from their dangerous neurotoxins. They’ve been known to open the doors of consciousness, and now there’s mounting evidence that they run a wood-wide-web beneath all the world’s forests. In October — when mushrooms sprout from the deep, dark ground after autumn rains — we share our recommendations for books about the fascinating realm of fungi.

For Adults

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake. Written by a biologist with a background in plant sciences, microbiology, and ecology, this dazzling journey into the hidden world of fungi will make you see mushrooms as you never have before. This book will blow your mind!

Fungipedia: A Brief Compendium of Mushroom Lore by Lawrence Millman. An A–Z treasury of mushroom lore, with more than 180 entries on topics as varied as Alice in Wonderland, chestnut blight, medicinal mushrooms, poisonings, Santa Claus, and waxy caps. Michael Pollan said, “This little book is big fun.”

Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone. In Mycophilia, well-known food writer Eugenia Bone turns her hungry and curious gaze to the world of mushrooms, exploring them as both divine food and wicked poison. A must-read for any foodie.

Picture Books for Kids

Tales of the Mushroom Folk by Signe Aspelin, translated by Polly Lawson. A charming tale, illustrated in the magical style of Elsa Beskow, about the different mushroom “families” found living in the woods.

Katya’s Book of Mushrooms by Katya Arnold and Sam Swope. A wonderfully illustrated guide to some of the world’s most beautiful, amazing, and common mushrooms. Katya Arnold’s love of mushrooms comes through loud and clear on every page. This book will get you excited to search for your own favorite fungi!

Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg, José Aruego, and Ariane Dewey. How many animals can fit under one mushroom cap during a rainstorm? Young readers will love to see who shows up to seek shelter, and exactly what happens to mushrooms in the rain.

For Middle School Readers

It’s a Fungus Among Us: the Good, the Bad & the Downright Scary by Carla Billups and Dawn Cusick. Middle grade readers will love the bold images and vibrant, fast-paced text in this highly readable collection of fungi facts. They might even want to try a few of the hands-on experiments included in this fabulous book.

The Mutant Mushroom Takeover (A Maggie and Nate Mystery) by Summer Rachel Short. Join wannabe Junior Naturalist Maggie and her best friend Nate as they try to unravel the mystery of a strange bioluminescent mushroom in their small town of Shady Pines. Kirkus Review describes this new release as “packed to the gills with fun.”

Where to Find These Books

BUY. We’d like to give a special shout-out to our local bookseller, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene and Peterborough! They’re open for in-person shopping, and they also offer curbside pickup.

BORROW. In addition, many local libraries have re-opened and/or are offering curbside pickup, as well as a wide variety of eBooks and other digital options. Check with your town library for more information.