15 Must-Read Mushroom Books
by Jaylynn Korrell
Your next favorite mushroom book is on this list.
I’m sure we’re not the only ones who have been completely fascinated with mushrooms lately. Some say it’s a phase–that mushrooms are just having a moment.
So what if they are?
These things can change the world. They do change the world. With our embrace, maybe they can change more of it.
It doesn’t matter when you developed your interest in mushrooms and mycelium. Those t-shirts you’re wearing look great. These coffee alternatives are good. These documentaries like Fantastic Fungi are genuinely life-changing for some people.
But there is more learning to be done & more fun to be had. It only gets cooler from here.
So like the foragers we are, we gathered up some of the best mushroom books from indie presses (and a former indie press) that we think you should check out.
You’ll find all sorts of mushroom books in this list. There is a mushroom book about foraging and one about cooking with mushrooms. There are field guides here and books about how mushrooms can save the planet.
We hope that at least one inspires you.
Here are some must-read mushroom books to add to your collection.
(Everything on Independent Book Review has been independently selected by a very picky group of people. We may earn a commission on items you purchase through our links.)
An illustrated guide to exploring & identifying fungi
Illustrations can make all the difference in identifying mushrooms. It’s one thing to read about how cool mushrooms are, it’s another to be able to determine which ones they are on your walk.
In this book from The Experiment Publishing, you’ll learn a ton about mushroom identification and details about more than 120 common fungi species. Some can be found in the forest, your local market, or right in your backyard. This book will give you a better chance of knowing exactly what it is, how to use it, or if you should back away.
An illustrated mini-encyclopedia of mushroom lore
Would you believe that mushrooms are more closely related to humans than to plants?
In Fungipedia (Princeton University Press, 2019), mycologist Lawrence Millman expands on this concept and delves into a wide variety of mushroom-related topics like Alice in Wonderland, poisonings, waxy caps, Santa Claus, and more. You’ll get a little taste of it all in the 180 entries that make up this collection.
A forager’s memoir
Not every mushroom book is a how-to guide. This brand new memoir from Iliana Regan and Agate Midway documents her life and heritage as a forager. It’s a personal story about one woman’s life and the way that foraging has shaped it. Creative nonfiction readers are going to like this one. That’s why we included it in our Books to Look Out for in Early 2023!
4. The Mycocultural Revolution
An intro to mycology
Expert mycologist Peter McCoy shares essential mushroom knowledge with amateur and studied mycologists alike in this one. Develop your skills of cultivation and identification while celebrating the fungi kingdom in this book from Microcosm Publishing.
5. In Search of Mycotopia
About the mushroom movement & citizen scientists
People all around the world are taking on the task of furthering mycological research. This book from Chelsea Green Publishing introduces readers to the wonders of mushrooms through the eyes and works of everyday people.
From experts to citizen scientists, there is a strong community of mushroom-devotees out there with stories and information to share.
6. The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi
Fungi in forests, homes, and bodies
Mushrooms play a key role for the earth, but they can also have a significant effect on our health.
Whether it’s through medical breakthroughs, journeys of the mind, or untimely deaths, mushrooms and humans have a complicated and extraordinary relationship. Along with exploring the microscopic world in our forests and home, The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi (Greystone Books, 2022) takes an impressive look at the microscopic world’s relationship with our bodies.
7. The Magic of Mushrooms
Fungi in folklore, superstition, and traditional medicine
Mushrooms may be having a moment right now, but it is not their first moment. On the contrary, mushrooms have been at the center of magical tales, folklore beliefs, and many superstitions for centuries.
With over 100 striking images sourced from the archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Magic of Mushrooms (Wellbeck Publishing, 2022) is as stunning as it is informational.
8. The Lives of Fungi
History of fungi
If you want to stick to the historical facts of mushrooms, then you are best off with The Lives of Fungi from Princeton University Press. This book combines accessible text with gorgeous images of fungi to help narrate their history on earth and the impact its made.
9. The Secret Life of Fungi
All things mushroom & the lessons they teach us
This book has all the mushroom facts and fascinations you could ask for. Told through her conversational and personal voice, this book from Pegasus connects our shared life with fungi and has no shortage of trivia on different kinds of mushrooms.
10. Cooking With Mushrooms
Want to cook more with mushrooms but don’t know where to start? Start here. Andrea Gentl’s Cooking with Mushrooms from Artisan Books is a mushroom book that shows you a wide variety of ways to use them.
You’ll find recipes that include mushrooms as a side, a seasoning, the star of the plate, and everything in between. You’ll not only learn how to cook with mushrooms, but you’ll also learn how to do so safely and effectively.
11. Fearless Foraging in the Rocky Mountains
A foraging how-to
Foraging mushrooms is an activity that many people can find pleasure in, but it isn’t always as easy as just taking a walk. There are skills you can learn that help you know how and where to look for mushrooms and what you should do after you find them. Mushroom books like this one can help you forage safely and successfully–a practical addition to your home library.
Short fiction anthology
Fiction lovers rejoice! There’s a short story anthology from Innsmouth Free Press devoted just to fungi. This mushroom book explores the topic in new and imaginative ways, with each author taking unique approaches and genres from noir to dark fantasy. Jeff VanderMeer is just one of the star-studded authors in the book’s cast.
Edible mushroom history
Mushroom by Cynthia Bertelsen takes a look a the history of mushrooms and their edible nature. She goes back to the nineteenth century to begin her edible mushroom storytelling and how they were perceived in different ways by different people.
For some they were dangerous and deadly, associated with accidental death and sickness. For others they were a delight for cooking or a magical religious experience. Anyone interested in how and why people used to eat mushrooms would love this mushroom book from Reaktion Books.
14. Mycelium Running
Mushrooms for the environment
Paul Stamets is one of the leading names in mycology, and his popularity is only growing since the Netflix documentary Fantastic Fungi came out. In Mycelium Running (from then-indie publisher Ten Speed Press), Stamets shares all the ways that mushrooms can help to save our environment. His “mycorestoration” efforts are definitely worth reading about if you’re intrigued by the many capabilities of fungi.
15. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World
Because we know some of you are here looking for mushroom books about magic mushrooms, we decided to end our book list with Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World (also from Ten Speed Press).
It is the only identification guide exclusively devoted to the world’s psilocybin-containing mushroom, and it’s also written by Paul Stamets.
Have you added a mushroom book to your library yet? Let’s chat fungi! If you enjoyed this list, check out some of our other book lists like 2022’s impressive indies.
About the Author
Jaylynn Korrell is a nomadic writer currently based out of Pennsylvania. In addition to her writing and reading for Independent Book Review, she curates lists at GoodGiftLists.com.
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