During a quick trip to the school’s library I encountered a new (2009) book entitled, “Spiders: Learning to Love Them,” written by Lynne Kelly. It really is a rare treat that can be enjoyed equally by arachnophobes and spider aficionados.
Lynne Kelly, an accomplished science writer, has degrees in engineering, computing and education. “Spiders: Learning to Love Them” chronicles her journey in dealing with an ever-growing arachnophobia by learning more about spider biology through observation and conversation with arachnologists.
Kelly is a driven woman whose obsessive desire to better understand her subject led to a top-notch piece of writing. Not surprisingly, she came to first understand spiders by appreciating them from an engineering standpoint. Morphology, web construction, silk, whatever – it all is presented in an engaging writing style rarely encountered in top quality science writing.
Kelly is an obsessive photographer who painstakingly documents her observations and understandings throughout her journey. Others reading this blog entry will identify with her unwavering passion in spending hours awaiting the appearance of a particular behavior in hope of capturing a particular image. She typically focused on one particular spider individual who she observed in its natural setting throughout the year. You come to know each spider’s behaviors and intricacies as seen through her eyes. I have yet to encounter anyone who can so successfully capture the day-in, day-out passion to better understand any aspect of arthropods using a camera.
Entire chapters deal with arachnophobia, spider diversity, silk/web construction, morphological variation, classification issues, parasitism (some pretty gory images here), mygalomorphs (love those mygalomorphs!), reproduction (lots of great high quality images), spider bites, and changing public perceptions.
Even the appendices (guides to webs and spider spotting/photographing, as well as spider observation forms) are excellent. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Order a copy. You won’t be disappointed.