Mycophilia – Eugenia Bone [Brief Review]

February 23, 2012


Mycophilia - Eugenia BoneWe Live and Breathe Fungus

A Brief Review of


Revelations from the Weird
World of Mushrooms

Eugenia Bone
Hardback: Rodale, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Mary Bowling

The love of fungus. Obviously this book by Eugenia Bone is about mushrooms – an odd object of love. But even more odd is that that isn’t the whole story. Mushrooms are just the tip of the iceberg, and what we are just beginning to learn about them and a host of other fungi is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Ms. Bone’s interest in fungi began where most people’s permanently resides – in the pot, on the table, and down the hatch – as food. From there her interest has taken her across the country, over river and very literally through the woods, in search of fungi and the people who love them. The book follows her own story of deepening interest in all things mycological, beginning with a simple mushroom hunt with a friend and progressing through membership in various mycological societies, forays in sundry regions, to seeking out creators of far-flung scientific uses for fungi of all sorts.

She intersperses personal experience along her path of mycological enlightenment with fantastic factoids and science related to fungus, beginning with basic structure and habits of mushroom-producing fungus. Mycology, we learn early on, is not just the study of mushrooms, and mushrooms are not all there is to fungus. They are merely the fruiting bodies of sometimes enormous underground organisms called mycelium. Neither is fungus limited to things that produce mushrooms. Fungus is much, much more pervasive than that. Fungus is in the earth, on plants, within plants, on people, and even inside our bodies. We live and breathe fungus – literally. Ms. Bone brings up in her introduction that we breathe between one and ten spores with every breath we take.

Bone parallels her newfound interest in mushroom science with an interest in mushroom culture, that is – mushroom people. She chronicles her attempts at fitting in with the “in crowd” at forays and events, and paints pictures of the many colorful people has met on her outings. Her admiration for the seeming rock-stars of the mushroom world is immediately evident. Others she meets are portrayed with varying degrees of amusement and curiosity.

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