It seems that mushrooms are having a moment. The fascination with fungi is evidenced through countless recent books on foraging, cooking, and use of psychedelics. Perhaps it is their ephemeral, spectral nature, the way they appear to rise from nothing on a damp day, that piques our interest. Or maybe it’s the fact that they can heal or kill, depending on variety and use.  Or the knowledge that their underground networks spread for literally miles, serving as conduits for plant communication. Whatever the allure, fiction writers are not immune to it.

An Yu opens her transcendent novel Ghost Music with an epigraph by composer/mycologist John Cage: “The more you know them, the less sure you feel about identifying them. Each one is itself. Each mushroom is what it is — its own centre.” This sets the stage for a hallucinatory story that sits lightly on a three-legged stool made of music, mushrooms, and magic.

Song Yan is a former concert pianist who gave up her career to teach. She is married to Bowen, a cold, distant man whom she comes to realize that she doesn’t actually know, made obvious by the discovery of a previous marriage. She yearns for a child, but he is adamantly against it, even when his mother moves in with them and pressures the couple for a grandchild. The reason for Bowen’s reluctance is revealed late in the book.

She receives a package in the mail, sent to her address, but with someone else’s name on it. It is from her mother-in-law’s province and contains mushrooms. Though Song Yan and her mother-in-law are often at odds, the two bond over cooking the mushrooms, which begin arriving every week.

The sender of the mushrooms reveals himself in a letter to Song Yan. He is Bai Yu, a renowned pianist who mysteriously disappeared years ago. He has lost his ability to play and has summoned Song Yan to help him find it again. “The more time I spend at the piano,” he tells her,”the more it seemed like my hands didn’t belong to me…. there wasn’t a ‘me’ at all….I want you the help me find the sound of being alive.” It is unclear to Song Yan whether Bai Yu is merely an eccentric recluse, or if he is an actual ghost.

The stress of her home situation and the strangeness of her sessions with Bai Yu bring on bouts of insomnia for Song Yan, which she attempts to quench with alcohol. While in this mentally fraught state, she is visited by an orange mushroom that speaks to her in enigmatic statements. She hallucinates (or dreams, or actually experiences - it is left to the reader to decide) being in a room with no doors or windows, with mushrooms sprouting from the corners. Meanwhile, a strange orange dust is spreading across the countryside, originating in the province where Bowen’s ex-wife lives. That the mushrooms and the dust seem to rise from areas of Bowen’s enigmatic past causes Song Yan to question everything about her marriage.

These overlapping layers of nightmare, music, and the mundanity of everyday life are placed lightly on top of each other like sheets of silk. Song Yan’s relationships with Bowen, Bai Yu, her mother-in-law, her best friend, and her students shift and evolve under these sheets. It is only when she loses almost everything and everyone that she grasps her deep love for  Bai Yu and absorbs his most important lesson - “He made me see the simple fact that we are not tied down to this world; we are in pursuit of it.”


Can't get enough of the fungi? Here's a brief list for the aspiring mycologist, from fiction to field guides to picture books - there's something for everyone!

Tales of the Mushroom Folk by Signe Aspelin

This charming picture book was originally published in Swedish in 1909 as Småttingarnus Svampbok. Anthropomorphized mushroom families work and play in idyllic, warmly-hued landscapes. It could not be cuter!

Mycelium Wassonii by Brian Blomerth

This trippy graphic novel relates the lives and work of mycologists Gordon and Tina Wasson, pioneers in the study of the health benefits of psilocybin mushrooms. With saturated, eye-popping colors and mind-bending images, the book is a breezy tribute to a remarkable yet complicated couple.

A Mycological Foray by John Cage

This elegant keepsake set, packaged in a simple, moss-toned slipcase, is must-have for fans of Cage and mushroom enthusiasts alike. Volume I is a book with an essay on mushrooms by Cage, an account by Kingston Trinder of the composer’s emergence as a mycologist accompanied by lush photographs, and a transcript of Cage’s 1983 text composition Mushrooms et Variations. Volume II is a portfolio of Cage’s 1972 Mushroom Book, created in collaboration with artist Lois Long and botanist Alexander H. Smith. Vellum sheets with Cage’s text overlay sumptuous lithographs of mushrooms by Long.

Fungi edited by Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This genre-spanning collection includes stories by Jeff VanderMeer, Camille Alexa, Paul Tremblay and many others. Ranging from horror to humor to personal essay, these wildly divergent selections will transform how you look at mushrooms.

The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms by Virginia Haze and Dr. K. Mandrake, PhD

This book is just what the title promises - a comprehensive instruction book on safely cultivating psilocybin mushrooms. It offers detailed instructions on various methods of growth, processing, and consumption, with hundreds of clear, full-color photographs showing step-by-step procedures for all the stages in your mushroom journey.

How to Forage for Mushrooms Without Dying by Frank Hyman

This valuable little beginner’s guide is a must-read for anyone who is new to foraging. Tips on identification, storage, and cooking are presented with a directness and humor that makes this book an inviting field guide. Gorgeous full-color photos of 29 species adorn the pages.

The Mycocultural Revolution: Transforming Our World with Mushrooms, Lichens, and Other Fungi by Peter McCoy

This little gem is packed with valuable information about mushrooms, from foraging to species identification to home growing to cooking to healing benefits. Based in solid science yet passionate in its advocacy of mushrooms as an element in changing the world, it belongs on the shelf of any aspiring mycologist.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Take Jane Eyre, put her in a secluded mansion in the wilds of 1950’s Mexico, add a heap mushroom-induced body horror, and you have Mexican Gothic. Plucky heroine Noemi is summoned by her cousin to help her escape the clutches of her new husband’s weird and menacing family. Fungal terror ensues. (Added bonus for fashionistas - the descriptions of ’50’s couture are delicious!)

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

Sheldrake writes with a sense of wonder about the power and mystery of mushrooms, yet packs in a trove of scientific information about these wondrous organisms. He has done his homework, as the 44-page bibliography demonstrates.

When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Sola, translated by Mara Faye Lethem

The book is a rare, beautiful work of magical realism. Every chapter is narrated by a different person, animal, or act of nature. In the opening chapter, a young poet and father, Domenec, is gathering chanterelles near his home in the Pyrenees when he is killed by a bolt of lightning. The echoes of this event are heard in shifting points of view, leaving the reader to decide who is the most reliable narrator. Is it Domenic’s widow or is it the thundercloud that killed him? Is it the witches who stole Domenec’s mushrooms or the mushrooms themselves?  When I Sing, Mountains Dance is a feral howl of a book, a tempestuous hymn to the natural world.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World by Paul Stamets

This book is packed with science and hope. Stamets outlines how mushrooms can be important factors in not just healing our bodies, but saving our planet. From neutralizing toxic waste to reforestation to boosting crop yields, mushrooms have the capacity to combat the environmental crisis we find ourselves in today. The book is copiously researched and enhanced by tons of colorful photographs.

Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman, illustrated by Jamie Green

This warmly illustrated picture book uses spare, poetic text to introduce children to the wonders of mushrooms. An informative appendix goes deeper into the science behind mushrooms, as well as suggestions for some fun(gal) activities.


Bree has a new collection of poetry out! Here is a selection from This Blue August (Green Panda Press, 2023)

A Part in the Sky

I resist the urge to pick up on whatever it is

nuthatches argue about down the gorge.

It makes the bluntest sound in me when a

hawk lands by the creek sun never reaches.


the language used by American robins

is over our heads. and you speak to me

about larval host plants from personal

experience. I rock back and forth on your

knees where elderberry breaks dormancy.

there's a twisty meaning in each jagged leaf;


I kiss the sweet creases your eyes make

until you close them. a fleet of house finches

winter faded don't think much about us. they

advance where the shade grass is sodden,

where what sticks out are shorn pages of

mushrooms the color of cheddar cheese.


chicken of the woods, you inform me

a white-throated sparrow drawls. you

trace a line on my thigh with its open beak

makes a part of the sky real yellow.



Coming in April -

We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan

Writer and activist Hasan has written a compelling Cassandra cry against the soft colonialism of NGOs. The action takes place in a small village in an unnamed presumably African country. Maya (dubbed Bigabosse by the locals) runs an orphanage in a country where child soldiers roam the landscape. When one of her longtime staffers is accused of rape by a local girl, the fragile strands of trust that bind the organization to the villagers in this militarized country threaten to snap. Meanwhile, Maya is watching her marriage falling apart during video calls to her spouse in California. Maya’s growing dismay at the hypocracies and materialism of industrialized nations is conveyed in machine-gun prose. It all ratchets up to a pulse-pounding ending that leaves the reader teetering on the edge of the last sentence.


Instructions for the Drowning by Steven Heighton

In this engrossing collection of stories, Heighton examines how humans grapple with fear and unease. A man struggles to recall his father’s advice on saving a drowning person when faced with the situation in real life. An act of kindness backfires on a couple who are on the brink of having a child. A gay man and his conservative father have difficulty comprehending each other’s grief. From recluses in suburban homes to soldiers in war zones, to a speculative tale about the man who killed Houdini, Heighton surgically dissects the depths of his characters’ psyches, making us care about every one of them.


For further reading, Women's History Month edition -

Click here to read about how Hildegard of Bingen shaped early music history.

Click here to read about the enduring appeal of one of my favorite YA novels, Harriet the Spy.

Click here to read a lively conversation between Rebecca Makkai and Lauren Groff 

Click here to read Meg Madden's article about the myriad uses for mushrooms.



Ghost Music By An Yu Cover Image
By An Yu
ISBN: 9780802159625
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - January 10th, 2023

Tales of the Mushroom Folk By Signe Aspelin, Polly Lawson (Translator) Cover Image
By Signe Aspelin, Polly Lawson (Translator)
ISBN: 9781782507529
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Floris Books - September 7th, 2021

Brian Blomerth's Mycelium Wassonii By Brian Blomerth, Paul Stamets (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Brian Blomerth, Paul Stamets (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781944860417
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anthology Editions - November 16th, 2021

John Cage: A Mycological Foray: Variations on Mushrooms By John Cage, Ananda Pellerin (Editor), Kingston Trinder (Text by (Art/Photo Books)) Cover Image
By John Cage, Ananda Pellerin (Editor), Kingston Trinder (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9781733622004
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atelier Editions - July 21st, 2020

Fungi By Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Editor), Orrin Grey (Editor) Cover Image
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Editor), Orrin Grey (Editor)
ISBN: 9780991675937
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Innsmouth Free Press - December 1st, 2012

The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms By Virginia Haze (Photographer), K. Mandrake Cover Image
By Virginia Haze (Photographer), K. Mandrake
ISBN: 9781937866280
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Green Candy Press - November 15th, 2016

How to Forage for Mushrooms without Dying: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Identifying 29 Wild, Edible Mushrooms By Frank Hyman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635863321
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Storey Publishing, LLC - October 5th, 2021

The Mycocultural Revolution: Transforming Our World with Mushrooms, Lichens, and Other Fungi (Good Life) By Peter McCoy, Robert Rogers (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Peter McCoy, Robert Rogers (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781621065142
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Microcosm Publishing - November 29th, 2022

Mexican Gothic By Silvia Moreno-Garcia Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525620808
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Del Rey - June 15th, 2021

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures By Merlin Sheldrake Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525510321
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 13th, 2021

When I Sing, Mountains Dance: A Novel By Irene Solà Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450802
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - March 15th, 2022

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World By Paul Stamets Cover Image
ISBN: 9781580085793
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ten Speed Press - October 1st, 2005

Mushroom Rain By Laura K. Zimmermann, Jamie Green (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Laura K. Zimmermann, Jamie Green (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781534111509
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sleeping Bear Press - March 15th, 2022

This Blue August: Two Books in a Single Volume By Green Panda Press Bree Cover Image
ISBN: 9798372708990
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Independently Published - January 22nd, 2023

We Meant Well By Erum Shazia Hasan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770416659
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: ECW Press - April 11th, 2023

Instructions for the Drowning By Steven Heighton Cover Image
ISBN: 9781771965354
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Biblioasis - April 18th, 2023