Renowned for his pioneering contributions to the fields of nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, Michael Pollan has dedicated his career to exploring the intersection of humans and the planet. Through a series of groundbreaking books, his advocacy for sustainable farming practices and conscientious eating habits has catalyzed a broader cultural movement towards healthier, locally-sourced food production and consumption.

Born in Long Island in 1955, Pollan embarked on a prolific career as a writer after earning a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University. He contributed to publications like The New York Times and Harper’s, before gaining widespread readership and critical acclaim for his 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Along with follow-ups works like In Defense of Food, Cooked, and This Is Your Mind on Plants, Pollan’s oeuvre has had a significant impact on public policy and discourse around dietary choices and environmental stewardship.

In a reading list for NY-based bookstore One Grand, Pollan named 10 of his favorite books that not only taught him how to write, but how to interact with nature. From Henry David Thoreau to Upton Sinclair, explore his recommendations below – and for more guidance on how to rethink your relationship with food, check out his Masterclass on intentional eating.

Michael Pollan’s  Reading List

Walden by Henry David Thoreau (also rec’d by Brie Larson, Glennon Doyle & Rebecca Solnit)

“For its bracing prose as much as anything else. I’ve been arguing with Thoreau for most of my career. When he abandoned his beanfield because he couldn’t stand making ‘invidious distinctions’ between his beans and the weeds, he gave up on agriculture and opted for wilderness—a tremendous mistake in my view.” -MP

The Essential Writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson (also rec’d by MLK)

“Sentence by sentence, some of the most stimulating thoughts anywhere.” -MP

The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural by Wendell Berry

“I’ve learned more from Berry than anyone else about how best to engage with nature, and how to write a sturdy and pleasing English sentence.” -MP

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

“A powerful piece of journalism disguised as a novel.” -MP

Changes In The Land by William Cronon

“Taught me how to look at a landscape and see not just nature but history as well.” -MP

Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia (also rec’d by Kim Cattrall & David Bowie)

“A crazy and brilliant survey of western literature.” -MP

On Drugs by David Lenson

“Little known, but the smartest book on drugs I know of.” -MP

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

“In retrospect, this beautifully written and hilarious narrative made me a journalist—or at least, one who put himself in the story in order to see it fresh and build a narrative.” -MP

Liberty Under Siege by Walter Karp

“The most original observer American politics in the second half of the 20th century.” -MP

The Odyssey by Homer (also rec’d by Bob Dylan, Jay-Z, Kazuo IshiguroNick Cave & Yara Shahidi)

“…And not just because there are so many great barbecue scenes. (Henry Fielding called The Odyssey’s ‘Homer’s wonderful book about eating,’ and wasn’t too far off.) But there’s lots to be learn about story structure too, and why it’s often a good idea to begin in the middle.” -MP

(via One Grand Books; photo by Tabitha Soren)

Looking for an Amazon alternative? Support local, independent booksellers by shopping Michael Pollan’s reading list – and hundreds of other celebrity book recommendations – through Radical Reads’ Bookshop page.

Categories: Activists Writers