Author of Book on Mushrooms Lets Mushrooms Eat His Book, Then Eats Mushrooms

When it comes to promoting a book on mushrooms, I think it’s safe to say that no one will top biologist Merlin Sheldrake’s marketing campaign anytime soon.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future is an intriguing book on the fascinating life of various fungi, written by biologist Merlin Sheldrake. But at the end of the day, it’s still just a book on mushrooms, and most people just aren’t drawn to that sort of literature. But Sheldrake came up with an ingenious PR campaign to promote his book that drew the attention of the art world and the general public, not just of fungi enthusiasts. He let his book on mushrooms be devoured by pleurotus mushrooms and then ate those mushrooms himself.

Photo: Merlin Sheldrake

“Initially I was flattered that the fungus seemed to have consumed the book so eagerly, but on reflection I don’t think that I can take this as a vote of confidence,” Sheldrake admits in a promotional video. “But I think it’s still a reassuring sight. Given it’s the ultimate omnivore it would’ve been a bit bruising if the fungus hadn’t eaten the book at all.”

Pleurotus is considered one of nature’s great omnivores, feasting on anything from cigarette butts and crude oil, to herbicides like glyphosate or nematode worms. It eats pretty much anything, so Merlin Sheldrake, who spent years of his life studying fungi, knew it wouldn’t pass on his book.

After letting pleurotus feast on his book for a couple of weeks, Sheldrake harvested the mushrooms, cooked them and ate them, which technically allowed him to eat his own words…

“They were delicious: I couldn’t taste any off notes, which suggests that the #fungus had fully metabolised the text,” the biologist wrote on Twitter.


Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future is available on Amazon.