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The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,619 Ratings  ·  309 Reviews
In The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart takes us on a journey through the underground world and introduces us to one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. It ploughs the soil, fights plant diseases, cleans up pollution, and turns ordinary dirt into fertile land. Who knew?

In her witty, offbeat
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 11th 2005 by Algonquin Books (first published 2004)
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Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I feel strange after having read this. I feel a blossoming obsession with worms, and a terrible dismay that we know so little about the ecosystems of soil. I want worm robots, travelling and discovering in the same way we send remote submersibles into the deep trenches of the ocean. I want to know about the vast and tiny kingdom beneath my feet.

It’s not Stewart’s fault that there is so little to know about worms. It’s currently a process of discovery among the few worm devotees in science. They
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really wanted more out of this book. The whole time I felt like the author really did not have enough to fill up a whole book and was just making small talk to get over 100 pages. But I did learn some interesting things about earthworms. The part about earthworms being a destructive force to forests of the Northwest was really interesting *yet one of her shortests chapters*. Beyond that I might was well of read Darwins works on earthworms, because 2/3rds of this book read like a bookreport on ...more
Rift Vegan
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I am caretaker of a few hundred (? thousand?) worms in my home, so this book was wonderfully interesting to me! Here are a few of the stand-outs:

* The invasive species in Northeastern US, now destroying the forests there. The last ice age left zero worms and the forests evolved to make use of the "duff" for seed germination. Now, invasive worms have completely eaten the duff and there are no more baby trees.

* Using worms as bio-monitors... As we learned in Silent Spring (one of my favorite books
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I will never look at earthworms quite the same way.

I've always enjoyed seeing them in my garden, knowing their presence was a sign of healthy soil. But I had no idea quite how much these seemingly insignificant creatures can accomplish.

Amy Stewart isn't a formally trained scientist. What she is, is a gardener with a passion for the process of growing things and a lively, curious mind. Oh, and a writer with a real talent for engaging her reader. Her prose is articulate, funny, and smoot
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction
The first half of this book dragged a little bit because--as it turns out--there's a reason people aren't by and large captivated and spellbound by earthworms. Don't get me wrong, they have their role to play in the ecosystem just like everyone else, but that's the point: just like everyone else. I am reasonably confident that you could pick a category of animal or plant more or less at random and then write a book about how special it was because, well, all animals and plants are specials.

On t
Dov Zeller
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every time I read books in which Charles Darwin is discussed, I find that I like him better. Not only was he curious about the biology of worms, but he studied their intelligence (in Darwin's world a critter doesn't have to speak human-ese in order to have their intelligence acknowledged and appreciated). He also predicted their impact in terms of soil production and quality. People thought he was nuts for thinking there were so many worms doing so much casting and tilling of soil, but actually, ...more
Literary Chic
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting! I’m in an audiobook, too busy to read phase, but this was well worth the time.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it

Surprisingly interesting! Worms that live in trees while they're young, worms that smell of lillies, worms destroying a forest (seriously!), HUGE worms, none of our worms are native to North America, worms worms worms.

It really is shocking how little we know about worms (they hold on to DDT and no one thought about this), who are, essentially, the pollinators of the earth. The single most important thing about gardening and farming is soil - I can't even count the number of times I've hear
Christina Ramos
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Conventional wisdom tells us that earthworms are beneficial to plants. While tunneling through the earth, they aerate the soil and allow for deeper penetration of water to plant roots. With their castings (uh...excreta) they enrich the soil with nutrients. But oligochaetology (yes, the study of worms) is still a new science, and only in recent years have scientists started to dig deeper (pardon the pun) and find out what else these guys are up to underneath our feet. For example, the presence of ...more
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
Apr 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: earth
This is an exciting book, a thrilling, weird read. Worms!
Did you know they make choices about how to drag leaves into holes, that they contemplate geometry?! Wow.

The author is a gardener, and brings to her writing a gentle compassion for her subject that is both endearing and infectious. She clearly spends a great deal of time kneeling in her garden patch, communing with the variety of critters that call it home. She is thoughtful and clear, excited and fun - she manages to walk a fine line betw
Emily Finke
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First of all, a warning: After you read this book, you will find yourself eyeing coworkers, trying to figure out which ones you can get away with cornering and talking excitedly to about worms. It will also make you want a vermiculture setup, even if you live in the worst possible apartment to house worms.

Now the review: I love nature books, particularly nature books that focus on little details that most people overlook. This is a lovely example of this genre. Amy Stewart does a great job of ta
William Herschel
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: gardeners, farmers, environmentalists
This was a bit disappointing. I wouldn't suggest this for a general look into earthworms. This is more of an enthusiastic ode to worms with a huge emphasis on organic gardening/farming and environmental solutions involving earthworms. Her exuberance and awe shining on every page were nice, though. People should give more notice to worms.
Steve Gooch
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love it when a book makes me see the world differently. And this one is why I spent 30 minutes exploring my wet yard the other night with a flashlight.
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
A few surprises were in store for me as I read this lovely little book. Most of us know that earthworms play a crucial role in the fertility of our soil, but how many of us know that they can actually be quite destructive, too? Or that there are projects in which earthworms are helping to process our waste? Or that the world of earthworms actually holds more mystery than knowledge, for the simple fact that they can be so hard to study?

Amy Stewart drew me into her book with her obvious love of ga
The Earth Moved is a delightful and fascinating book on the lowly earthworm. These hardworking and hard-loving creatures are hard not to admire. Maybe there should be a country western song written in tribute to the herculean task they do everyday.

This book is chocked full of information (factual and otherwise) about how earthworms live, different species of worm, anatomy, function and the role they play in your backyard garden. Ironically, there is still a lot that is not known about earthworm
Michael Nolan
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Worms have fascinated me since childhood and now I know why. Don’t get me wrong, I have read about and have a clear understanding of worm composting or vermiculture and its tremendous benefits but for one reason or another I had yet to fully embrace the practice. Then I received a review copy of Amy Stewart’s The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms and accepted my fate as a newly-minted worm guy.

If you have never read Stewart’s work you are in for a treat. It is no accident
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amy Stewart's vigorously researched book contributes richly laden information about earthworms that any gardener, farmer, or environmentalist would take special interest in, however her infectious approach could attract even the most casually interested reader. In addition to being incredibly informative, the book oftentimes is very poetically written so much so that I found myself with tears in my eyes. In addition to citing instances of earthworms contributions to waste management and the reha ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alright, it's official, Amy Stewart is amazing. She made me fall in love with earthworms. EARTHWORMS! I now care about the soil I walk on and the worms inside it that help it grow the food that I eat. And I can say with certainty that I never thought I would care one whit about any of that.

There's something about how she writes. I'm positive that she could write a book on the lint underneath my sofa and I would find it riveting.

She makes the reader feel as though her garden is their garden. We
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology, science
I really enjoyed this book. Written by a professional gardener but an amateur with worms, the book makes for a very easy read yet keeps the reader intrigue with the subject of earthworms. The book covers a healthy variety of subjects including the earthworm's biology, ecology, and role in the natural and human environment. The author does well to stick to the benefits and also the negative effects of an earthworm's presence.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is curious on the subject of
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Its easy to read and full of fascinating information about earthworms...among them the revelation that we really don't know much about them at all! So exciting to see how much there is left to discover. I want a worm farm now really badly. The next time we move I'm going to get one started. I hear the author has written other gripping biological stuff and I'm totally salivating thinking about reading more of this kind of material. Stewart gets high marks and is officially one ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it liked it
There is some interesting material here: Darwin's experiments with worms, the ways worm segments can be severed and fused together, worms' different roles (in organic farming; as invasive species), and the fact that worms hate wasabi.

But maybe I was expecting too much from a book about worms. Even compensating for the fact that this is a short book, I didn't feel like it had much to say. One is largely left with the impression that scientists just don't know much about worms, and that the author
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-science
If you are a gardener, or interested at all in how life on Earth is sustained, this is a readable introduction to an important topic. The writing is lively and engaging, with lots of vivid examples and anecdotes. But the core of the book is an explanation of the vital role that earthworms (and bacteria and fungi ) play in making soil fertile and productive.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Really liked this one. Stewart poses questions I never thought of - do worms make conscious choices, do they like to be touched? I've always wondered about worms, and this book really gives an easy-to-read yet in depth description of how they live and what they do - and, how little we really know about them. You will be surprised at their influence. A good book for the curious.
Tim Martin
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, reviewed
_The Earth Moved_ by Amy Stewart is one of those somewhat quirky non-fiction books I am fond of, a book that perhaps given its subject matter might not sound immensely attractive reading material but turns out to be very engaging and quite informative. In this case this book is about the earthworm.

In thirteen chapters the author looked at some of the most famous members of class Oligochaeta, terrestrial worms long familiar to farmers, gardeners, and fishermen, their biology, history with humanit
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I listened to the audiobook. The title is pretty self-descriptive--there is a lot about earthworms. The author, who maintains a large garden and uses earthworms in composting, is an enthusiast. The first part of the book is basically a description of Darwin's studies on earthworms in his last book, the middle third is a bit of a grab bag about various people who are really into earthworms, and the last third is about a modern sewage-treatment plant in Pacifica, CA. Now what does a sewage treatme ...more
Rod Brown
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-real-books
I was pulling this book off the library shelf because a patron had requested it. Though I had never given worms a second thought, I was immediately captivated by the title and cover copy. Fortunately, the library had two copies, so I was able to fill the patron's request and immediately take one home for myself.

The book came alive when the author discussed her own garden or Charles Darwin and his interactions with earthworms. The book lagged a bit as it devolved into a travelogue of sorts with t
Melissa Honey
EXCELLENT! INFORMATIVE! CAPTIVATING! I will never look at another earthworm and have the attitude that their only purpose is to hover around in the earth, and serve as fishing bait. This reading offers the opportunity to obtain a much more educated view on the important role of earthworms to our ecosystem. The information is presented to the reader in a humorous, entertaining manner. Engaging and fun to read.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! I love the way Stewart weaves together science and comprehensible reading for those without the register to digest hard science. I look at the earth differently now and, though I am a gardener, you don't have to be to enjoy this read!
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enchanting, smart funny, and refreshingly detailed.
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Morning Coffee Group: Something about coffee and worms . . . 2 26 Apr 05, 2013 09:37PM  
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Amy Stewart is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, The Drunken Botanist, and Wicked Plants.

She lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer. They own an independent bookstore called Eureka Books, which is so independent that it lives in California while they live in Oregon.

You can also find her all over
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“Eternity can be found in the minuscule, in the place where earthworms, along with billions of unseen soil-dwelling microorganisms, engage in a complex and little-understood dance with the tangle of plant roots that make up their gardens, their cities.” 3 likes
“Perhaps it makes sense that a creature that doesn't get ill and has few enemies among its neighbors would also live agelessly and die without explanation or cause--would simply vanish without a trace.” 3 likes
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