Friday, September 10, 2010

Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly: A Book Review

Spiders: Learning to Love Them is one of those books that makes me realize I have been walking around half blind all of my life.

Sure, I know there are spiders around--this time of year, it's hard not to, what with running into their webs every evening. The thing is, I've never really looked at them, or their webs. There's an amazing world out there I've never seen--dozens of kinds of webs, hundreds of kinds of spiders. How do I start?

Lynne Kelly combines three qualities I love in a writer: Humor, love, and research. Spiders is, in part, an account of her own progress from arachnophobe to arachnophile, and her (new-found) love for spiders and for the world they reveal is clear in the book. The detail and intricacy of their world and the level of research Kelly has done is also clear without the book ever becoming pedantic.

The book is lavishly illustrated as well, which is always a plus. There is a nice selection of color plates, including a gorgeous section on the progress of a spider weaving an orb-web and numerous black and white photographs or drawings all through the book.

Of course, for some, this could be a drawback: My local arachnophobe refuses to pick the book up on the grounds that "spiders are evil" and there is a close-up of a spider on the front--and, to be honest, I'm not including a cover on this one because I have had aracnophobic friends scold me for springing spider pictures on them without warning in the past.

Me? I'm not terribly reassured by the news that widow spiders only attack when they feel trapped because how do I know when I'm trapping one? Believe me, I wouldn't provoke one on purpose!  All the same, I can't wait to grab my flashlight and go out spider hunting some night.  The array of webs I've already seen, just starting to look, is already fascinating.


  1. I am still so scared of spiders. My friend has not one, but two tarantulas, and whenever I'm over at her place I have visions of them escaping and crawling onto my head. :p Knowing it's not going to happen does not stop the scary.

  2. Unfortunately for us, logic seldom helps banish fear.