Writing 339 pages about algae is an impressive feat (including recipes, but excluding bibliography and index). What is even more impressive however is making a subject that might stereotypically be met with groans or raised eyebrows engaging. Algae is fascinating and I knew very little about it before reading this book. I have come to respect it and even see it with awe thanks to Ruth Kassinger. The subtitle to the book ‘from food to fuel, the epic story of how algae can save our world’ might not even be too farfetched from reality. Life began with algae and algae will exist and adapt long after we humans have gone extinct.
Kassinger travelled all over the world in researching this book, with accounts from the Welsh coast to Canada and South Korea. As a result, core science is embedded within personal stories all connected to algae. She takes on a journey through the different elements of algae, from food and utilitarian usages to its impact on the climate and habitats. There are four sections in the book: In the Beginning, Glorious Food, Practical Matters, and Algae and the Changing Climate, with each divided into six to eight chapters. This is not a book that I could read in one sitting. There is too much to take in for that, but one to engulf yourself in and to use as a true learning experience. In some ways this is a great travelogue and as a reader you get to experience places in the world that writers do not often take you to, especially the more watery areas. Whilst some sections of the book can seem a bit ‘over lengthy’ as a reader, I can see why the editor wanted to retain a lot of Kassinger’s words and accounts.
The inclusion of recipes at the end is inspired, although I admit I have not yet attempted any of them.
The UK version of Bloom was first published in 2019 by Elliott and Thompson. Ruth Kassinger usually writes about the intersection of gardening, history and science. Ruth has written for the Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Health, National Geographic Explorer and other publications. You can find her online at: www.ruthkassinger.com
Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book to review.