I am asked all the time what books I recommend.
This is difficult to answer as there are so many different ways to be interested in fungi- whether it is identification, edibility, medicinal mushrooms, cooking mushrooms or wild food, cultivation, mycology… the list goes on. I am interested in most of these aspects, but I am aware this could quickly become overwhelming to a newcomer. Also of note is that one should seek out mushroom books that are local to their part of the world.
Another important consideration is that while I value buying vintage and second hand whenever possible- when you are relying on mushroom books to give you safe and up to date information- I do not recommend old books. The information is changing constantly, not only the classifications and taxonomy but the information on safe edibility of mushrooms in older books can be suspect and no longer recommended, such as the culmulatively toxic Brown Roll Rims. So, find it second hand if you can- but get your books recent and up to date.
This list will evolve and I will add to it over time, I’ll just get a start on it tonight…
I will list some books I love or recommend and why here:
I highly recommend this book for all beginning mushroom foragers. The River Cottage Mushroom book by John Wright is an excellent resource for those that are interested in foraging for edible mushrooms. There are great photos, clear information, a slight sense of humour and importantly he points out when there is a dangerous look-alike to be aware of. There are some very tasty recipes at the end of the book in true River Cottage style. I like John Wright and also might say while I am here that I also enjoyed this one:
The Forager’s Calendar- A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright
I downloaded this Audibles audio version of this book: The Forager’s Calendar- A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests. I love listening to audio books in the car while driving and this one is informative and entertaining. Its good because he covers wild food and fungi throughout the season and what you might expect to find in any average month of the year and some tips about how he likes to use these ingredients.
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book to anyone, no matter what your interests are! I have both this copy AND the audio version. It is narrated by the author Merlin Sheldrake and I cannot get enough of it. An incredible book that covers the many and diverse ways of “How Fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures.”
Absolutely mind-blowing and hugely entertaining.
I would LOVE LOVE to have a coffee with Merlin one day:)
Let’s start with the one in the centre: the second one that I recommend to any new mushroom forager to be: Edible Mushrooms: A Forager’s Guide to the Wild Fungi of Britain, Ireland and Europe
I highly recommend this book, both to beginning foragers and experienced foragers alike. It has many species and what I like best is Geoff’s book stands alone in my opinion with its attention to the “Spectrum of Edibility”. So many books copy each other and err on the side of over-caution and preach to the lowest denominator. Geoff touches on this spectrum in detail and gives information about how and under what conditions each mushroom is edible or it isn’t. For example, many books might state: inedible, not recommended or unknown about edibility but Geoff gives us more detail than most- sometimes its a case of boiling before cooking, or cooking at high heat, etc to remove certain toxins. I respect and value this information so that I may make the decision myself, rather than be told simply: not recommended. And of course, should a mushroom not be recommended for consumption- this is also clearly stated!
Again, great photos, great information and again a warning on dangerous look-alikes.
Another book from that book stack above:
The Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Dale Rogers.
While, granted, this book says it is for North American species, most of it is also relevant to Ireland/Uk/ Europe. Many of these medicinal mushrooms also grow here so there is much valuable information if you’re interested in mushrooms’ medicinal qualities.
From Jelly ears, Shiitake, Fly Agaric, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Button mushrooms, Oysters, the list goes on and on.
Robert Rogers has a good online medicinal mushrooms course that I also can recommend.
Next on the list:
Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares- The Love Lore and Mystique of Mushrooms by Greg Marley
Throughout history, people have had a complex and confusing relationship with mushrooms. Are fungi food or medicine, beneficial decomposers or deadly “toadstools” ready to kill anyone foolhardy enough to eat them? In fact, there is truth in all these statements. In Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares, author Greg Marley reveals some of the wonders and mysteries of mushrooms, and our conflicting human reactions to them. With tales from around the world, Marley, a seasoned mushroom expert, explains that some cultures are mycophilic (mushroom-loving), like those of Russia and Eastern Europe, while others are intensely mycophobic (mushroom-fearing), including, the US.
This fascinating and fresh look at mushrooms-their natural history, their uses and abuses, their pleasures and dangers-is a splendid introduction to both fungi themselves and to our human fascination with them. From useful descriptions of the most foolproof edible species to revealing stories about hallucinogenic or poisonous, yet often beautiful, fungi, Marley’s long and passionate experience will inform and inspire readers with the stories of these dark and mysterious denizens of our forest floor.