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  • Published: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9781847925206
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $35.00

Entangled Life

How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures

A mind-altering adventure through the world of fungi for readers of Robert Macfarlane and Other Minds

'A dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world. A remarkable work by a remarkable writer' Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.

Neither plant nor animal, they are found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. They can be microscopic, yet also account for the largest organisms ever recorded. They enabled the first life on land, can survive unprotected in space and thrive amidst nuclear radiation. In fact, nearly all life relies in some way on fungi.

These endlessly surprising organisms have no brain but can solve problems and manipulate animal behaviour with devastating precision. In giving us bread, alcohol and life-saving medicines, fungi have shaped human history, and their psychedelic properties have recently been shown to alleviate a number of mental illnesses. Their ability to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in break-through technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the 'Wood Wide Web', is transforming the way we understand ecosystems. Yet over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.

Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into a spectacular and neglected world, andshows that fungi provide a key to understanding both the planet on which we live, and life itself.

'One of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you. Astounding' Helen MacDonald, author of H Is for Hawk

  • Published: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9781847925206
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Merlin Sheldrake

Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and a writer. He received a Ph.D. in Tropical Ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama, where he was a predoctoral research fellow of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He is a musician and keen fermenter. Entangled Life is his first book.
Find Merlin on Twitter @MerlinSheldrake
And on Instagram @merlin.sheldrake

Praise for Entangled Life

A dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing book. Sentence after sentence stopped me short. I ended it wonderstruck at the fungal world - the secrets of which modern science is only now beginning to fathom - and the earth-shaking, hierarchy-breaking implications of Sheldrake's argument. A remarkable work by a remarkable writer

ROBERT MACFARLANE, author of Underland

It is impossible to put this book down. Entangled Life provides a window into the mind-boggling biology and fascinating cultures surrounding fungal life, as well as fungi's innumerable uses in materials, medicine and ecology. Sheldrake asks us to consider a life-form that is radically alien to ours, yet vibrant and lively underfoot


Entangled Life is a revelation. It is a radical, hopeful and important book and I couldn't put it down. With elegance, wit and clarity Sheldrake engages us in the hidden world of fungi, a miraculous web of connections, interactions and communication that changes the way we need to look at life, the planet and ourselves

ISABELLA TREE, author of Wilding

A magical journey deep into the roots of Nature. Merlin is an expert storyteller, weaving the tale of our co-evolution with fungi into a scientific adventure. Entangled Life is a must read for citizen scientists hoping to make a positive difference on this sacred planet we share

PAUL STAMETS, author of Mycelium Running

I was completely unprepared for Sheldrake's book. It rolled over me like a tsunami, leaving the landscape rearranged but all the more beautiful

NICHOLAS HUMPHREY, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, LSE, author of Soul Dust

Fungi are everywhere, and Merlin Sheldrake is an ideal guide to their mysteries. He's passionate, deeply knowledgeable and a wonderful writer

ELIZABETH KOLBERT, author of The Sixth Extinction

A triumph and a thing of vast beauty


Sheldrake's charm and curiosity makes for a book that is delightful to read, but also grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world, and the often-overlooked organisms within it

ED YONG, author of I Contain Multitudes

One of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you, Entangled Life is a mercurial, revelatory, impassioned, urgent, astounding, and necessary read. It's fearless in scope, analytically astute, and brimming with infectious joy

HELEN MACDONALD, author of H is for Hawk

Reading this book, I felt surrounded by a web of wonder. The natural world is more fantastic than any fantasy, so long as you have the means to perceive it. This book provides the means

JARON LANIER, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

I have been working on and reading and writing about fungi for a decade. And yet, nearly every page of this book contained either an observation so interesting or a turn of phrase so lovely that I was moved to slow down, stop, and reread . This book rocked me into remembering that nature, especially fungal nature, is big and encompassing and creative and destructive. It reminded me that fungi are, like the Universe, sublime

Rob Dunn, Science

A true masterpiece, a thrilling and fascinating insight into the living world, beautifully written, entertaining, funny and inspiring, while representing the science carefully and responsibly. I hope and trust that it will become an instant classic


You may never look at fungi in the same way... Entangled Life is an eye-opening exploration of this mysterious taxonomic kingdom... a journey into an untapped world. It is both a wonderful collection of fungal feats... and a personal account of Sheldrake's experiences with these miraculous organisms

New Scientist

I fell in love with this book. Merlin is a scientist with the imagination of a poet and a beautiful writer ... This is a book that, by virtue of the power of its writing, shifts your sense of the human ... It will inspire a generation to enter mycology

MICHAEL POLLAN (Bay Area Book Festival, 2020)

Wondrous ... an astonishing book that could alter our perceptions of fungi for ever. It seems somehow to tip the natural world upside down

Rachel Cooke, Observer

Reads like an adventure story ... wondrous ... beguilingly weaves together lived experience and scientific research

John Carey, Sunday Times

Brilliant ... entrancing ... when we look closely [at fungi], we meet large, unsettling questions ... Merlin Sheldrake ... carries us easily into these questions with ebullience and precision ... challenging some of our deepest assumptions ... A 'door-opener' book is one with a specialist subject in which it finds pathways leading everywhere ... Sheldrake's book is a very fine example


Mind-boggling... [Sheldrake] is nothing if not a participatory researcher into his subject and one with a winning sense of humour... it might be a good time to give thanks for this humble lifeform's effect on our lives... It's tempting... to see fungi as the biological model for a better world

Telegraph *****

After this book, nothing will seem the same again ... beautifully written and illustrated ... dazzling ... reveals a world that's both more extraordinary and more delicate than could be imagined

Mail on Sunday

The lives of fungi alone are fascinating, but the questions and wider implications that Sheldrake teases out from them are often truly astounding ... an engrossing, captivating journey ... rigorous, comprehensive, perspective-altering ... if this book is any indication, [Sheldrake] has an exciting career in not only science but also literature ahead of him


A joy ... a captivating trip into the weird and wonderful mycorrhizal world around us - and inside us ... full of startling revelations

Daily Mail

A quite magical tour of all things fungal ... a comprehensive and scholarly analysis of fungal biology [put together] in such an accessible and fun way ... an extraordinary achievement

Nature Plants

Riveting and surprising at every turn ... a sensory as well as an intellectual pleasure ... we owe a great debt to Sheldrake for lifting his eyes from the microscope for long enough to enlighten us about the wonders of fungi

Tim Flannery, New Statesman

As a love letter to this undervalued form of life, Sheldrake's book is deeply engaging and constantly surprising. But its ultimate message goes further, showing that the story of life on Earth can be given many narratives ... a balanced, well-informed and at times beautifully written book

Philip Ball, Prospect

This book is like one surprise after another


This is not just for mushroom-heads - it is science at its most uplifting

Jeannette Winterson, The Times

If you had told me a book about fungi would be both enthralling and completely mind-blowing, I wouldn't have believed you. And yet. Dazzlingly good

India Knight

Wondrous... [A] marvelous tour of these diverse and extraordinary life forms ... eye-opening ... humans should consider fungi among the greatest of earth's marvels

TIME Must-read Books of 2020

The oddest and most uplifting book... It is, to say the least, rare to find such a vast area of life on Earth - fungi - about which one knows almost nothing, and which gives promise of being so important to human life during our next century

Andrew Marr, New Statesman Books of the Year

Enthralling and completely mind-blowing... Dazzlingly good

India Knight, Sunday Times

Sheldrake's research is bang up-to-date ... In Entangled Life, he adroitly explores the wonders of this hidden fungal realm ... Sheldrake explains the latest discoveries with aplomb

Richard Fortey, TLS

Few books blew my mind like Merlin Sheldrake's Entangled Life. The research, passion, writing, insights ... Not sure if I've ever learned so much from ONE book. Here is to another scientist who celebrates imagination. Essential reading. Go and get swept up in a new world

ANDREA WULF, author of The Invention of Nature

Entangled Life is gorgeous! Enjoying it very much! Despair of the future of life on earth? Never mind, there will be fungus among us. One way or another


Entangled Life is a special book and Merlin is, as his name suggests, a magical writer. Through his writing I feel connected to nature through a thousand invisible threads


Astonishing... It seems somehow to tip the natural world upside down


A revelation... Changes the way we need to look at life, the planet and ourselves

ISABELLA TREE, author of Wilding

A true masterpiece, a thrilling and fascinating insight into the living world... I hope and trust that it will become an instant classic


Blew my mind... Essential reading. Go and get swept up in a new world

ANDREA WULF, author of The Invention of Nature

Riveting and surprising at every turn... A sensory as well as an intellectual pleasure

New Statesman

Wondrous... Humans should consider fungi among the greatest of earth's marvels

Time, Books of the Year

Wonderful... Eye-opening... A journey into an untapped world

New Scientist

Truly astounding... An engrossing, captivating journey... Perspective-altering


I've been listening to the audiobook of Entangled Life by @MerlinSheldrake but think I need to get the paperback too! It's wonderful


Astonishing ... it's impossible to finish this book without feeling awestruck

ANDREW MOTION, TLS Books of the Year

Wonderfully written ... surprising ... The best science writing invites people to view the world around them in a new way, and Entangled Life is a perfect example

Professor BRIAN COX

The most influential book I read this year... a comprehensive but accessible text on how significant fungi are to life on this planet

Ilia Rogatchevski, Wire, *Books of the Year*

Discover more

Flabbergasting fungi facts

As Merlin Sheldrake reveals in Entangled Life, there’s a lot more to fungi than you could ever imagine.

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