What We Are Reading Today: Fungipedia by Lawrence Millman

Updated 25 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Fungipedia by Lawrence Millman

Fungipedia presents a delightful 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 — this collection will transport both general readers and specialists into the remarkable universe of fungi.

Combining ecological, ethnographic, historical, and contemporary knowledge, author and mycologist Lawrence Millman discusses how mushrooms are much more closely related to humans than to plants, how they engage in sex, how insects farm them, and how certain species happily dine on leftover radiation, cockroach antennae, and dung.  

He explores the lives of individuals like African American scientist George Washington Carver, who specialized in crop diseases caused by fungi; Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, who was prevented from becoming a professional mycologist because she was a woman; and Gordon Wasson, a J. P. Morgan vice-president who almost single-handedly introduced the world to magic mushrooms. 


What We Are Reading Today: A Wonder to Behold

Updated 11 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: A Wonder to Behold

Authors: Anastasia Amrhein, Clare Fitzgerald, and Elizabeth Knott

In the ancient Near East, expert craftspeople were more than technicians: They numbered among those special members of society who could access the divine. 

While the artisans’ names are largely unknown today, their legacy remains in the form of spectacular artworks and monuments. One of the most celebrated works of antiquity — Babylon’s Ishtar Gate and its affiliated Processional Way — featured a dazzling array of colorful beasts assembled from molded, baked, and glazed bricks. 

Such an awe-inspiring structure demanded the highest level of craft; each animal was created from dozens of bricks that interlocked like a jigsaw. Yet this display of technical and artistic skill also served a ritual purpose, since the gate provided a divinely protected entrance to the sacred inner city of Babylon.

A Wonder to Behold explores ancient Near Eastern ideas about the transformative power of materials and craftsmanship as they relate to the Ishtar Gate, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. This beautifully illustrated catalogue accompanies an exhibition at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.