"The Light Eaters"

I know many here paddle partly because of their love of the natural world. Paddling is a wonderful way of experiencing nature close at hand. So, I am posting a link to a new book which you might want to put on your summer reading list.

I heard the author of the book being interviewed on “Fresh Air” yesterday, and decided I wanted to read it. From the interview it sounds like the latest research in the subject is providing an amazing look into how plants communicate and react to their environment. Apparently, it also goes into areas like consciousness, and awareness. No this isn’t “The Secret Life of Planets” which had a lot of misleading info, but the current findings of plant researchers.

We still have a lot to learn about the complexity of the Web of Life.

Amazon.com: The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth (Audible Audio Edition): Zoë Schlanger, Zoë Schlanger, HarperAudio: Audible Books & Originals


Thanks for sharing that, it sounds like a fun and fascinating book to read!

I purchased it in Audible and listened to the first two chapters today. It is well written from the perspective of a science journalist burnt out from writing about climate change. She becomes reintroduced to the wonder of nature through her affinity for plants and starts looking into the current research on ferns then plant behavior. She talks about being on the verge of a paradigm shift in botany. Her dissection of how science works and how the friction between established understanding and new theories often plays out seems spot on. Basically, we barely understand the intricacies of the web of life. It is obvious she has done her work on the topic both past and present. I think you will find a lot that will interest you as one who has worked hands on in the ecological sciences.

The wonder of nature she so eloquently talks about in the opening spoke to the very way I feel. Today sitting outside and listening to the periodic cicadas and seeing ants feeding on the dead and knowing from the volume of their song that they will soon be gone. Well, I must say I am gob smacked by the wonder of it as this cycle is now beginning again. I now add the wonder of how the trees might have coevolved with them.


Thank you for that additional, in depth review!

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I heard that interview too, and the book is now on my reading list. Thanks for sharing here.

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In a similar vein, consider also “Entangled Life”, by Merlin Sheldrake - for a gob-smacking view of fungi and all the connections they make possible on the planet…

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Thanks for the heads up on “Entangled Life” I have followed some of the research on fungi, and will check it out.

Nova did a four-part series on “Ancient Earth”. The third episode is titled “Life Rising”. In it they talk about how fungi were the first to colonize the land. some grew as tall as trees. Plants only emerged on land because they formed a relationship with fungi. All plant roots are associated with a fungus and the relationship goes back to the first plants that emerged on land.

Another tidbit was the plants in the Carboniferous time period when coal was formed took so much CO2 out of the atmosphere that the surface of the earth went through a period were it was almost entirely covered in ice.

NOVA | Ancient Earth: Life Rising | Season 50 | Episode 13 | PBS

Another series they did on water was eye opening. titled "H2O: The Molecule that Made Us. The first episode touched on how the trees in the Amazon Rainforest release a small particle that seeds clouds. that moisture also moves north. they do time lapse satellite imagery that is amazing to watch.

H2O: The Molecule That Made Us (pbs.org)

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It’s said that cockroaches will survive anything humans can devise to screw things up.
Fungi will too!

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I thought you would like to know that “Entangled Life” is brought up in the book “The Light Eaters”.

Our modern vision of reality is a limited myth of the real thing. These books demonstrate how little we know and how much more is still unknown. We should tread more lightly on the earth than we are now doing. We view ourselves as the chosen when in truth we live on this planet because the rest of the living world makes our lives possible. Perhaps if we allowed all life to have a greater statis as coequal partners with us, then that respect would benefit this home, we call the earth.


Thank you - that is good to know; finding those connections between books you like is always satisfying. Your posts add a lot to this forum!

And agreed, it is fairly staggering if/when one begins to get a grip on how limited our understanding of the natural world is. Very humbling, very wondrous.


I am through the first chapter of “Entangled Life”. It surprised me that I was familiar with much of what is in this chapter if not quite in the same detail. I felt I had a better handle on plants as fungi seem so alien. However, much of the recent plant research I haven’t seen reported on. I am enjoying the book and his perspective.

I especially liked the magician’s explanation of how his magic act changed others perception. Reminded me of the video of a circle of people passing a basketball around. When you watch the ball, you do not see the person in the gorilla suit walk through the circle, but when you focused on the middle of the circle you saw it. Our brains are filling in what it expects to see from what it saw in the past while focusing elsewhere. No wonder eyewitness accounts can vary so widely. I think this is also true with what we believe unless we are open to questioning such belief or suspending our biases. It is so easy to ignore the things we don’t think of as important. That is especially true of what lives out of sight or seems immobile. These books highlight the complexity of life and how little we are aware of our impacts on it.