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Publisher's Summary

The instant New York Times best seller

“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 25 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

Critic Reviews

“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)

"This Is Your Mind on Plants is an entertaining blend of memoir, history and social commentary that illustrates Pollan’s ability to be both scientific and personal. By relying on contextual history and focusing on three popular, if misunderstood, drugs, Pollan challenges common views on what mind-altering drugs are and what they can accomplish.” (BookPage, starred​ review) 

“Pollan is a master of breaking down complex science into an engaging story and challenging long-held societal beliefs. His newest offering, which follows his examination of the science of psychedelics in 2018’s How to Change Your Mind, aims to unpack our ideas about what constitutes a ‘drug’ and, fundamentally, why we seek them.” (Time)

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks to Feed Your Ever Growing Plant Obsession


Plant ownership has experienced a huge spike over the past two years, and it’s easy to understand why. Plants are one of the best ways to experience nature from the comfort of your own home. With such a wide variety of plants appropriate for all skill levels, almost anyone can jump in. Rather than write ourselves off as hopelessly black-thumbed, many more of us are becoming confident in our ability to keep our green friends alive and thriving.

Editor's Pick

A Michael Pollan-led trip into the world of plants
In his latest work, Michael Pollan digs deep in his garden to find the hidden knowledge buried at the core of three substances deemed sinful by many in our society: the psychoactive plants opium, caffeine, and mescaline. And though you could call his skirting of the rules for curiosity’s sake ‘’indulgent,’‘ following his pursuits hardly brings him paradise. In his narration, Pollan’s paranoia comes through loud and clear. I too held my breath as I listened in on him pondering his privileges and fearing legal consequences for planting poppies in his yard. I recoiled at the purging moans of his mescaline-trip companions and recalled the conflicted groans we all felt during the inconvenient, yet better-safe-than-sorry logistical restrictions posed by COVID-19. Personally, I refuse to even imagine myself quitting coffee cold turkey. I always appreciate the lengths Pollan takes to unravel the hidden-in-plain-sight secrets of the systems that affect our daily lives. In This Is Your Mind on Plants, Pollan puts his permanent record on the line. But I promise: there’s no risk in lending your ears to this audiobook. —Haley H., Audible Editor

What listeners say about This Is Your Mind on Plants

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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.

79 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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A late blooming flower.

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

6 people found this helpful

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Thorough and well-cited.

This is a fascinating read in understanding the nature of naturally grown plant on the human experience. Pollan’s work on poppies and opium, coffee/tea and caffeine, and sacred cacti and psychedelic compounds is wonderful.

I also very much appreciate when authors read their own audiobooks.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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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Thoroughly enjoyable!

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

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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

2 people found this helpful