13 Must Have Mushroom Books
You can pretty much learn everything you wanted to know from the internet.
But for some reason, books are still totally relevant and totally awesome!
In this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite books on foraging, growing mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms, and some other fun mushroom books worth reading.
Best Books For Mushroom Foraging
The National Audubon Society Field Guide To Mushrooms is great for foraging, because it is relatively small and you can easily fit it in your backpack and take it with you into the woods.
It has tons of different species of mushrooms laid out in a really easy to navigate format. You can search for mushrooms by shape, by color, and by type.
There are lots of nice photographs, all of which were taken on film. The detail is really stunning!
There are some downsides though- this book doesn’t have “dichotomous keys” meaning it can be hard to nail down the exact species of mushrooms that you find only using this book. Also, every mushroom was given a common name, even when it doesn’t make a ton of sense. Many of these “common names” were just made up for the book.
Still though, it is a great reference and one worth having.
Mushrooms Demystified is an absolute brick- it weighs a few pounds and is not one that you would want to actually take with you into the woods to look for mushrooms.
That being said, this book is an absolute gem with tons of amazing information written in a style that is both informative and entertaining. If you read this book cover to cover, you would learn more than you could ever want to know about wild mushrooms.
Mushrooms demystified has “dichotomous keys” for all the genera of mushrooms, so it is super helpful for actually getting down to the species name for the mushrooms you find in the woods.
The one downside, this book is relatively outdated, and was published in 1986. Many of the species names have since changed (science continues on!) so don’t be surprised if the names in this book are different from what is commonly acceptable in 2020.
Still though, this book is a must have for any mushroom lover. You won’t be disappointed!
Still though, it is a great reference and one worth having.
The Complete Mushroom Hunter is a great resource for beginners, and is very easy to read even if you know nothing about mushrooms.
It goes over the main mushroom species, which ones are edible, which ones are poisonous, where and how to look, what you should take with you foraging, and fun facts about the mushrooms you’ll find in the woods.
It is not “complete” as the title suggests, but is a great resource nonetheless for people wanting to learn more about the mushrooms they find in the woods.
I should probably mention that the best books for mushroom foraging are typically the ones that are specific to where you live. Wild mushrooms have regional variations, and what you find in one book might not be relevant to your location.
Check to see if there is a guide to mushrooms for your state or province, as that will likely be the most relevant and useful information for your foraging adventures.
If we are talking about growing mushrooms, we need to mention the most popular book on this topic, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets.
This book is also pretty outdated, but there is still tons of really great information, and it’s perfect for anyone looking to seriously get into the hobby growing mushrooms.
It covers the main cultivated species, parameters for growing them, laboratory work and sterile technique, and even mushroom farm design.
This is the one book I have had on my shelf since I first started to learn how to grow mushrooms, and I’ve probably flipped through it a million times since.
This is another book by Paul Stamets, and one that lead the charge for the new wave of interest in mycoremediation and “how mushrooms can help save the world.”
This book is more for general interest, but has lots of good information on different permaculture techniques, how mushrooms can help with environmental issues, and different ways you can experiment with mushrooms at home.
This book is a much less intimidating intro to mushroom cultivation for people who are looking to jump into the hobby and start growing mushrooms at home. It is definitely not for those looking to start up a large scale farm.
It goes over lots of accessible, easy to follow techniques that require very little equipment, that pretty much anybody could do on a small scale.
This book is well written, well laid out, and has tons of great pictures.
This is quite literally a textbook, and not for people with a passing interest in the subject.
It goes deep into the ways that mushrooms are grown commercially all over the world, some of the major trends in mushroom cultivation, and ways that mushroom growers are overcoming problems and becoming more efficient.
This book includes real research by world experts on the topic of mushroom cultivation on an industrial scale.
If you are interested in the pharmacological and clinical aspects of medicinal mushrooms, it doesn’t get much better than Medicinal Mushrooms a Clinical Guide by Martin Powell.
Martin Powell has a diverse background in both biochemistry and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and shows how practical ways in which these mushrooms can help specific conditions. The book is targeted at clinicians, but is accessible enough for most readers to find value.
This book is well written and comprehensive, and is a must-have resource for those interested in the topic.
Healing Mushrooms takes a much higher level approach, broadly talking about the benefits and applications of the most popular medicinal mushrooms.
It also goes over the topic of how mushrooms are processed, and which compounds are responsible for the beneficial effects.
The book includes a number of recipes and full color photographs to help readers incorporate these mushrooms into their daily life.
This book focuses less on clinical research, and more on general characteristics of “functional mushrooms” and why people are using them. Healing Mushrooms is interesting and well written, making for an enjoyable read even if you have no previous knowledge on the topic.
Fungal pharmacy is a comprehensive guide to the medicinal mushrooms of North America. It includes over 300 species and covers both traditional use and clinical research regarding these mushrooms.
It is not one that you would sit down and read from cover to cover, but is an excellent resource to have on the bookshelf and flip through from time to time.
Okay, so we’ve gone through the cultivation books and the foraging books, but what’s the point of finding all these mushrooms if you aren’t going to do anything with them?
That’s why the next book on the list is The Mushroom Cookbook.
This book covers many different types of mushrooms like Chanterelles, Lobster Mushrooms and Morels, along with advice on how to store them, prepare them, and of course, different recipes to get them in a meal.
Some people will note that many of the recipes are hard to follow and contain weird hard to find ingredients, so they aren’t entirely practical…. But still this is a beautifully crafted book that deserves a spot on any mushroom lovers bookshelf.
We kind of live in a culture of “mycophobia” in North America, and many kids are taught (intentionally or not) to avoid mushrooms in the woods.
The Mushroom Fan Club totally breaks down those barriers and introduces the idea of mushroom foraging to kids in a fun and educational way.
Of course, you aren’t going to be able to use this book for any serious identification, but it does provide a broad overview of the different mushrooms in the woods with fun illustrations and stories.
It’s a great resource to spark imagination and hopefully encourage a new generation of mycophiles in North America.
How to change your mind is a groundbreaking look at the new science of psychedelics, and the potential that these substances have for mental health, anxiety, depression and much more.
So what does that have to do with mushrooms?
Of course, the book talks a lot about “magic mushrooms” (Psilocybin) and how these mushrooms are being used in clinical settings. The author even shares some personal experiences.
What I like so much about this book is how Michael Pollan takes an objective view of the topic, and makes it much more accessible to people who might have previously ignored the topic.
It has really reignited the conversation and brought the attention of this super interesting topic to the broader public.
If you have any interest in learning more about Psilocybin mushrooms, without fluff and woo-woo, then How To Change Your Mind is a great place to start.
I’m sure I missed some of your favorite books ( I can’t have them all), so please let me know in the comments below what some of your favorite mushroom books are!
Radical Mycology is my mushroom bible.