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Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

I'm going to try to start doing shorter reviews. This way, I can write a short review after each book I read, instead of only doing long ones every fifth book or so. The structure I just thought of is as follows. First, I'll give a short summary. Then, I'll give my opinion of the book, also short. Finally, I'll list some interesting tidbits or something. Let's see how this goes.


If you go to the Amazon page for this book, do the "Look Inside!" thing, and read the table of contents, you'll have a pretty good idea of what this book is about.

But if you're too lazy, or want to hear the summary in my own very original words, then look no further. Don't take that literally. Look a little further.

Part 1 is titled "The Mycelial Mind." It's basically a primer for the rest of the book, a broad summary of mycelium and mushrooms. Stamets (the author, who seems like a cool dude) talks about how mycelium is like nature's internet; it both physically mimics it, as they're both big interconnected networks, and functionally mimics it, because forests "communicate" through mycelium. That's a bit hand wavey, but I want to keep this short.

He then talks about the lifecycle of mushrooms. Next, he discusses the four categories of mushrooms - saprophytic, parasitic, mycorrhizal, and endophytic - and their natural habitats. Finally, he talks about how mushrooms can be used for medicinal purposes.

Ok, that's the first part. It's a bit too long, so let's simplify things.

Part 2 is titled "Mycorestoration." Here, Stamets covers a variety of ways in which mycelium can help support, protect, and restore ecosystems. It can do so in four ways: mycofiltration, mycoforestry, mycoremediation, and mycopesticides.

Part 3 is titled "Growing Mycelia and Mushrooms." It is what it sounds like. There's also a long chapter that goes into detail about certain mushroom species. It's got info on taxonomy, habitat, culinary stuff, mycorestoration applications, and more.


I've become a mycophile over the past couple of weeks. I already liked eating mushrooms, but now I'm actually reading about them and stuff. Before reading this book, I read David Arora's All That the Rain Promises and More, so I had a working knowledge of different types of mushrooms, their physical attributes, their habitats, stuff like that. Even so, there was surprisingly little overlap between the two. Ok maybe not that surprising. Mycelium Running is not a field guide like All That the Rain... First of all, a large part of the book isn't about mushrooms, it's about mycelium. Secondofly, the part that is about mushrooms has different information than Arora's handy handbook - there's a lot more emphasis on human and environmental benefits. Basically, this book has a lot of unique information.

So, who does this book cater to? I would say everyone. Mushrooms are dope. There are so many different ways to use mushrooms, and so many aspects of our lives to which they relate. If you want to grow mushrooms, you should read this book. If you want to help your local ecosystem, you should read this book. If you garden, you should read this book. If you like to look at cool pictures of mushrooms, you should read this book. Etc. etc..

If anything, this book should get you excited about mushrooms! It's not a manual, it's a kickstarter. It gives general outlines for mycorestoration and growing mushrooms, and leaves the rest up to us (the readers!) to figure out. After all, there's a ton of stuff we don't know about mushrooms, and no better way to learn than by getting our hands a little dirty.

Cool Stuff

  • You can grow mushrooms exponentially. You buy some spawn from online, and use it to inculate some substrate. For this example, let's say the substrate is cardboard. Then, once the cardboard is myceliated, you stick it between two other pieces of cardboard. And so on. Basically, you can double your output every iteration. At least, that's the understanding I have. It's probably more complicated in real life.
  • Related to the above point, it seems extremely easy to grow extremely large amounts of psilocybin mushrooms (which is illegal in some countries). I wonder how common it is...
  • Some researcher guy put mycelium in a maze and it figured out the shortest path (there was food at both endpoints).
  • Fomes fomentarius is a fire-starter mushroom! People used it to transport fires. They also used it as punk, i.e. stuff used to ignite gunpowder.
  • A lot of mushrooms have antitumor properties.
  • In a cubic inch of topsoil, the total amount of mycelium has a length of more than 8 miles.
  • The average human accumulates between 10 and 100 million fungal spores on his or her body and clothes per day.
  • Mushrooms can improve the health and bearings of fruits and vegetables.

It's a bit late so I'm probably missing some stuff. At least I finally succeeded in keeping a post kinda short.