The Best Books About Mushrooms for Beginners and Enthusiasts

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: May 27, 2024
iStock.com/Dan Fog Madsen

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Maybe you order them along with Swiss cheese for a perfect burger or you’ve been curious about the different species you’ve seen growing in the woods. Maybe you’re an artist and mushrooms have become a popular subject on your canvases. There is so much to learn not just about mushrooms, but also about fungi. There are books that bring mushrooms and fungi to life, explaining their roles in a way that leaves you in awe. It can be surprising when you discover just how much fungi interact with our world. Perhaps quiet but ever-so busy, this is a world worth exploring.

In the list below, we highlight several different books about mushrooms. The first is the most comprehensive, and we include a few field guidebooks for those of you ready to go out and forage. There’s even a book that contains the greatest works of mushroom art from the 18th and 19th centuries you can find. We share some insights on the factors to consider before deciding on the right book and share some fun facts as we answer your most frequently asked questions.

  1. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
    • 368 pages.
    • A New York Times Bestseller
    • Winner of The Royal Society Science Book Prize, the Wainright Prize, and the Guild of Food Writers Award.
    Check Amazon
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
    • 928 pages.
    • A handy field guide for mushroom identification.
    • Features over 700 photographs.
    Check Amazon
  3. The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms
    • 380 pages.
    • Details the cultivation process of mushrooms.
    • Presents the history of psilocybin mushrooms and their prevalence through history.
    Check Amazon
  4. Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi
    • 360 pages.
    • Identifies over 450 fungus species.
    • Specifies edible versus non-edible mushrooms.
    Check Amazon
  5. Mushroom Botanical Art
    • 208 pages.
    • A collection of mushroom and fungus paintings by Japanese and European naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries.
    • Newly available in English as a 2021 publication.
    Check Amazon
  6. Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health
    • 224 pages.
    • A resource on using mushrooms to boost immunity and promote health benefits.
    Check Amazon

A-Z Animals Top Picks for Books About Mushrooms

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

The best overall book about mushrooms is Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake.

This book is available in Kindle, audio, hardcover, and paperback versions. It’s a New York Times bestseller and critics call it “brilliant and entrancing”. This book takes you on a journey into the world of fungi. Fungi serve as connectors in the living world, and they have remarkable roles that impact human life. Although mushrooms and fungi are often used synonymously, mushrooms are just fruiting bodies and fungi ultimately make up the interconnected web that lives just out of sight. It’s like the trees and the roots that delve deep into the soil and mushrooms are like the apples that grow on those trees.

In this book, Merlin Sheldrake, a young biologist, gives you a different perspective. You get the fungal point of view. Sheldrake’s approach touches on everything from yeast to psychedelics. He touches on the fungi that link plants together in intricate networks and those that span over several miles underground. After reading this book, you might question human evolution and intelligence. Fungi are surprisingly precise and the author examines their roles as key players in most of life‘s processes. The goal is to change your mind, understand how fungi can heal your body, and explore deeper to prevent environmental disasters.

However, it should be noted that this book does use a lot of scientific terms and explanations which may be confusing to some people.

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

ProsCons
This book is a New York Times bestseller.It uses a lot of scientific terms and explanations.
It touches on everything from yeast to psychedelics.
It takes you on a journey into the world of fungi.
It is available in Kindle, audio, hardcover, and paperback versions.
Best Overall
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
  • 368 pages.
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of The Royal Society Science Book Prize, the Wainright Prize, and the Guild of Food Writers Award.
Check Amazon

2. Best Field Guide: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary A. Lincoff

For those of you interested in a field guide, check out National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary A. Lincoff.

This is the most comprehensive book on the topic relating to North American mushrooms. Whether you plan to keep this in your home library or pack it up when you’re out and about, this is the go-to reference source you need to have in your possession. Within these pages, you uncover 700 full-color identification photographs. All of them are neatly organized by color and shape. If you plan to embark on a mushroom-hunting expedition, you must have this book by your side.

The author explains each mushroom species in detail alongside a clear photograph. You get to discover the mushroom season, habitat, edibility, alternative names, and even some look-alike species. Dive in further and learn which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous. You also uncover information about its different uses and any folklore relating to that specific mushroom. This book also contains a supplementary section on eating wild mushrooms. It includes cooking tips and some illustrations that identify the different parts of a mushroom. This is a well-rounded guide that makes it essential for those of you ready to move from reading into action.

Pros and Cons of National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary A. Lincoff

ProsCons
This book is a comprehensive guide to North American mushrooms.None
It features 700 pages of full-color photographs.
Each mushroom series is explained in detail.
It includes information about mushroom season, habitat, edibility, alternative names, which are poisonous, different uses, and folklore.
I has an additional section about eating wild mushrooms, including cooking tips.
Best Field Guide
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms
  • 928 pages.
  • A handy field guide for mushroom identification.
  • Features over 700 photographs.
Check Amazon

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

Can we really talk about mushrooms without touching on psilocybin? If you have a curiosity about this age-old and newly re-emerging topic then The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms by Dr. K Mandrake and Virginia Haze is the book for you.

It’s available in Kindle, paperback, and spiral-bound formats. The book valiantly explores all the complexities of the mushroom cultivation process. It is the most comprehensive book on the topic that exists today. This guide goes beyond explaining magic mushrooms and teaches you how to produce your own quickly, safely, and effectively. There is a 40 step step-by-step instruction guide with tons of photographs to help you through every stage in the process.

You learn all about sterilizing the equipment to produce your magic mushrooms, building containers to use during home cultivation, and all the safety measures you need to take to prevent contamination of the mushroom cultures. This guide is for those who want to consume magic mushrooms in a safe and enjoyable way. The book is written by Virginia Haza and Dr. K. Mandrake, Ph.D. Dr. Mandrake studied mycology and he uses his knowledge to detail the botany and history of psilocybin mushrooms. He imparts the knowledge he’s gathered to give you an idea of their popularity throughout human history. It’s a highly detailed and comprehensive bible that offers actionable insights for those looking to produce magic mushrooms. However, some customers have reported that it is best suited to beginners than more advanced mushroom growers.

Please note: We present this information for educational purposes only and do not encourage the use of psychedelic mushrooms or other mind-altering substances.

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

ProsCons
This book explores all the complexities of the mushroom cultivation process.Some customers reported that it is more suited to beginners than expert mushroom growers.
It teaches you how to produce your own mushrooms quickly, safely, and effectively.
It features a 40 step step-by-step instruction guide.
Best Psychedelic
The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing and Using Magic Mushrooms
  • 380 pages.
  • Details the cultivation process of mushrooms.
  • Presents the history of psilocybin mushrooms and their prevalence through history.
Check Amazon

4. Best for Beginners: Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi by DK

In our opinion the best beginners guide to mushrooms is Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi by DK.

This book helps you identify and gather wild mushrooms as well as other fungi. It’s available in hardcover and paperback versions and delivers the information you need about this fascinating world. For centuries, people have turned to wild mushrooms and fungi as a source of food. There are hundreds of different species for you to discover and if you have embarked upon or are thinking of starting up this hobby, you are about to reap many rewards.

This book is gorgeously illustrated throughout and contains information on over 450 species of fungi from all over the globe. You get to enjoy clear photographs of all the different types of mushrooms and with each image, you get annotations and descriptions. The book explains the different anatomical sections and features of fungi. You can then organize your own foraging finds using the visual ID guides. The book also contains key information on fruiting, habitats, and it helps you identify edible and poisonous mushrooms.

The only issue with this book is that the different species are not alphabetically ordered which can make searching for a specific type quite challenging.

Pros and Cons of Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi by DK

ProsCons
This books helps you to identify wild mushrooms and fungi.The different mushrooms and fungi are not alphabetically ordered.
It contains information on more than 450 species of fungi.
It features stunning illustrations and photographs.
It explains the different anatomical sections and features of fungi.
It helps you to identify edible and poisonous mushrooms.
Best for Beginners
Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi
  • 360 pages.
  • Identifies over 450 fungus species.
  • Specifies edible versus non-edible mushrooms.
Check Amazon

5. Best-Selling: Mushroom Botanical Art by Toshimitsu Fukiharu

If you’re simply interested in mushroom art then we suggest you take a look at Mushroom Botanical Art by Toshimitsu Fukiharu.

This hardcover book is a best seller and has only recently become available in a new, luxury English addition. Within the pages of this book, you uncover a wide collection of mushroom and fungi paintings by Japanese and European naturalists. These works of art date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Each of these paintings displays mushrooms in their natural habitats. They are straightforward and historical illustrations that were executed with meticulous attention to detail. If you’re a botanical art fan or you just love mushrooms, this is the most pleasant book to add to your collection. It allows you to appreciate the beauty of all different mushroom species and can also be a great help if you regularly draw or paint mushrooms yourself. Plus, it captures history in both its narrative and illustrations.

The only drawback to this book is that it is quite expensive.

Pros and Cons of Mushroom Botanical Art by Toshimitsu Fukiharu

ProsCons
This book features a wide collection of mushroom and fungi paintings by Japanese and European naturalists.It is expensive.
Each painting displays mushrooms in their natural habitat.
It is available in a new, luxury English edition.

6. Best Healing: Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health by Tero Isokauppila

For readers interested in exploring mushrooms’ healing properties, A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health by Tero Isokauppila is super practical culinary guide.

The aim of this book is to serve as a resource on the use of adaptogenic mushrooms. These can be used to boost whole body health and to promote greater immune health. Adaptogenic mushrooms have become a buzzy superfood in the health and wellness space and for good reason. They increase energy levels, minimize brain fog, restore the skin, and even keep hormone levels in check. In this book, you learn about the 10 most powerful mushrooms that you can incorporate into your daily diet to boost your whole body’s health. It also includes and several tasty recipes.

This book is 224 pages long and is available in Kindle and paperback formats. The only drawback is that it doesn’t include and pictures of the mushrooms themselves, only of the recipes.

Pros and Cons of A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health by Tero Isokauppila

ProsCons
This book is a resource on the use of adaptogenic mushrooms.It doesn’t include any pictures of the mushrooms.
You can discover the ten most powerful mushrooms that can be incorporated into the daily diet.
It includes stunning illustrations.
There are Kindle and paperback editions available.
Best Healing
Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health
  • 224 pages.
  • A resource on using mushrooms to boost immunity and promote health benefits.
Check Amazon

Criteria: What to Look For in Books About Mushrooms

The first item to consider is your reason for wanting to invest in a book about mushrooms. If you’re the outdoorsy, adventuring type, it may be because you want something practical you can use to identify different types of mushroom species when out on your excursions. If you’re more the type to sit by the fire and enjoy a nice hot cup of tea or coffee while appreciating mushroom art, then you need a book less about the different types of mushroom species and more about different works of mushroom art.

While it’s important to know which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous, if your ultimate goal is to incorporate healing mushrooms into your wellness regimen, you need a book that focuses on the culinary aspects of mushrooms. A book with recipes that you can start creating at home today.

About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

The Best Books About Mushrooms for Beginners and Enthusiasts FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the best book for identifying mushrooms?

We highlight two such books in the list above. The first is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, which focuses specifically on a single continent and the second is Mushrooms: How to Identify and Gather Wild Mushrooms and Other Fungi, which explores over 400 mushrooms and fungi found throughout the world.

What is a mushroom forager called?

A mushroom forager is called a mycophile. These are people who make wild edible mushroom hunting their hobby. They devote themselves to mushrooms!

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