Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unexpected Universe” as Want to Read:
The Unexpected Universe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Unexpected Universe

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  235 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Drawing from his long experience as a naturalist, the author responds to the unexpected and symbolic aspects of a wide spectrum of phenomena throughout the universe. Scrupulous scholarship and magical prose are brought to bear on such diverse topics as seeds, the hieroglyphs on shells, lost tombs, the goddess Circe, city dumps, and Neanderthal man.
Paperback, 252 pages
Published October 18th 1972 by Mariner Books (first published 1969)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unexpected Universe, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Unexpected Universe

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Best General Science Books
80th out of 244 books — 231 voters
Contact by Carl SaganGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonI, Robot by Isaac AsimovJurassic Park by Michael Crichton
SCIENCE & LITERATURE--Together at Last
100th out of 117 books — 63 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 537)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Eiseley used to write a monthly column in a magazine called Natural History. One of the essays was about bringing home a fossil and placing it on the floor in his house. One night his dog recognized the fossil as a bone, put his foot on it and growled at his master.

Eiseley says he was transported far back into the past by the experience.

Reading this made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Michael Armstrong
This is not a review. This is a funny, to me I guess, story about my picking this book. When I was a kid I decided to givr the hobo life a try and head out west by any conveyance I could hop, crawl or jump into. I remember falling into the company of a bunch of winos in a makeshift camp of sorts in N.M. Kind of a way station for the down and out, the few on the lam, and punks like me. I was chumming around with this old guy who looked like a vulture sizing everybody up for a meal. We were passin ...more
Mathieu Debic
This collection of short essays by anthropologist Loren Eiseley often led me to set down the book and stare off into space for a long minute. His writing skirts the bleeding edges of our rational understanding of the world around us and hands the reader a comprehensive guide to an almost religious devotion to and appreciation of nature and time. No polemic, no anti- or pro- anything lays secreted away in these pages. Instead the reader will find musings and tales, some light and optimistic, some ...more
I'd never heard of the author before and don't usually read scientific philosophy, but I found it in a secondhand bookshop for 70 cents, so thought I'd give it a try.
It was a bit of a slog, to be honest. Less rigorously scientific than expected, and too philosophically woolly. Some interesting ideas buried under a pile of frustratingly vague and incoherent waffle.
Katrina Becker
Flipping fantastic. I am not, repeat not, a natural history fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Eiseley's prose is so wonderful it made the ride worthwhile. The occasional non-PC 60's jargon slips in a time or two, & he's very, very excited about man having been to the moon (it was the 60's, ok?), but otherwise, what a great read.
Justin Howe
It's impossible for me not to like a naturalist who quotes from Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Bacon, Heraclitus, Lord Dunsany, and Peter Beagle.
Bob Nichols
Good reflections on our natural world, its evolutionary history, and a bit on our place in the universe.

Loved the dedication to "Wolf who sleeps forever with an ice age bone across his heart, the last gift of one who loved him." In the book, Eiseley relates the story of Wolf stealing the bone and fiercely growling at him when Eiseley tried to get it back.

The writing on Thoreau and Darwin was the best. Both were voyagers, the author writes. "One confined himself to the ever widening ripples on a
Sandra Murphy
Five stars for everything Loren Eiseley has written! This book of essays is revealing and moving in so many ways....the search for God, the communion with nature and the wild, the contemplations of life The play with a fox cub, tying man to the initial bubbling of life on this mere planet....seeing oneself in the eye of an untamed creature. The Bonehunter, always searching, saw so much more than we.
Lindsay Coppens
This book was more like a poetic meditation on life, death, evolution, human progress (or lack there of) with a focus of the works of Thoreau and Darwin. I loved the layered literary references, including The Odyssey and The Tempest. This book is timeless.
The five stars are for chapter 4 : The Star Thrower.
Jul 23, 2010 Bridget marked it as to-read
I HATED, DESPISED, didn't want to look at this book when I was forced to read it in high school. I haven't looked at it since. But it was the first used book I ever bought on Amazon...and I have this feeling that I would love it if I read it now...I probably will someday...
Eiseley is brilliant and thoughtful. His essays are centered on nature and our physical universe and what it teaches us. The story about the spider truly enlightened me about perspective... we all have our own filter ;-)
More essays by Eiseley. Good stuff. He really lets you feel the mystery and beauty of nature and natural history.
Chris Bonds
One of my desert island books. He wrote beautifully and poetically about the natural world.
Exquisitely melancholy and thought-provoking.
Jill Yamnitz
Love love love Loren Eiseley....
Catie marked it as to-read
Dec 25, 2014
Todd Smidt
Todd Smidt marked it as to-read
Dec 17, 2014
Steven Chang
Steven Chang marked it as to-read
Dec 10, 2014
Robert Dorian
Robert Dorian marked it as to-read
Dec 08, 2014
Christian Astrup
Christian Astrup marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2014
Star9fire6 marked it as to-read
Nov 23, 2014
Jennifer Chushcoff
Jennifer Chushcoff marked it as to-read
Nov 22, 2014
Edilson marked it as to-read
Nov 01, 2014
Yang Chu
Yang Chu marked it as to-read
Oct 31, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher
  • The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History
  • Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos: The Story of the Scientific Quest for the Secret of the Universe
  • Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare: An Ecologist's Perspective
  • Physiology of Behavior, 9th Edition
  • Our Kind: Who We Are, Where We Came From, Where We Are Going
  • The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge
  • The Writer and the World: Essays
  • Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
  • Hunting for Hope: A Father's Journeys
  • Desert Notes/River Notes
  • Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage
  • The Last Three Minutes: Conjectures About The Ultimate Fate Of The Universe
  • Ants at Work: How an Insect Society is Organized
  • The Next American Essay
  • The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report
  • Abbey's Road
  • Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education (Nature Literacy Series, Vol. 1) (Nature Literacy)
Loren Corey Eiseley (September 3, 1907 – July 9, 1977) was a highly respected anthropologist, science writer, ecologist, and poet. He published books of essays, biography, and general science in the 1950s through the 1970s.

Eiseley is best known for the poetic essay style, called the "concealed essay". He used this to explain complex scientific ideas, such as human evolution, to the general public.
More about Loren Eiseley...
The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature The Star Thrower The Night Country All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life The Firmament of Time

Share This Book

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” 30 likes
“I am what I am and cannot be otherwise because of the shadows.” 16 likes
More quotes…