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Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys into the Time Before Bones
"We humans are a minority of giants, stumbling around in the world of little things," Sue Hubbell writes in this marvelous book. Each of these little things "has a complicated and special way of getting on in the world, different from ours and different from one another's." In Waiting for Aphrodite she explores the ways of sponges and sea urchins, horseshoe crabs and the s ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 3rd 2000 by Mariner Books
(first published 1999)
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Oct 09, 2017 Jim rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
Hubbell takes us further into her explorations of the spineless world which she started in Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs. Part science, part nature writing, part autobiographical, it's a pleasant stroll through some sea life, fire flies, worms, spiders, & other species. While there is a fair amount of science, she never gets bogged down technically, but makes sense of it to the common man of which she is one, just a very well educated one. Self-educated at that.
Part of the ...more
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I found this book about invertebrates to be so charming. Obviously I loved the parts about my preferred invertebrates (the marine ones) but also it really heightened my ambivalence around the insect world. For example, I was completely delighted by the chapter on millipedes even though I get very squeamish about the actual physical fact of a millipede if one approaches me.
Continuing on my streak of finally checking out books I picked up years ago from used book stores. This one is comprised of a series of essays written by a zoologist who focuses on the study of invertebrate life-forms, ranging from crickets to worms to sea urchins and various other life forms one would be more likely to find under rocks, shells, leaves, or darker under water areas. The author provided a nice, visual timeline of the various eras in time and references them throughout the book. Th ...more
This was a fun little wander through the world of invertebrates. Hubbell's prose is wonderful (in the "full of wonder" sense of word) and easy to ready while packing in all kinds of scientific knowledge. There's excursions into natural history and the development of our understanding of evolution and taxonomy. There's snippets of geology and of Hubbell's own life. Hubbell guides us through all kinds of invertebrate creatures' biology and mysterious lives as she researches, travels, and discovers ...more
Jul 20, 2007 Lindsay rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: aspiring biologists
I got up to about 3/4 the way through before I put this book down for greener pastures. Who knows...I may finish it one of these days as I usually don't like leaving books unfinished. It's full of information, but I was hoping for more of a A Country Year set in Maine. Instead, very few chapters deal with the creepy-crawlies in Maine--Hubbell travels all over the world to research invertebrates. Of course other interesting issues come up as well such as global warming, evolution, and taxonomy, b ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Louisa rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Waiting for Aphrodite is a beautiful book about the little things that run the world, the small beings without bones that occupied this planet long before we mammals came around. In a delightful, poetic way, Sue Hubbell tells how she took her bike to visit the tidal pools in the park near her house in Maine, and observed sponges and sea urchins, millipedes and earthworms, star fish and sea cucumbers. I particularly loved chapter 12 where she writes about bioluminescence, the capacity of animals ...more
Jul 18, 2018 ⋟Kimari⋞ rated it it was amazing
In this book of connected essays about invertebrates, the author moves back and forth between her new home on the Maine coast, her old home in Missouri, and other locations, including Belize. There are essays on horseshoe crabs, fireflies, millipedes, sea urchins, corals, sponges, earthworms, bees, pill bugs, and sea mice among others. One theme repeats -- there is so much that is not known about these animals' biology and habits.
I read this some years ago, but ran across another of her books recently, and decided to read it again. Sue Hubbell writes Biology for the lay person, and in this book, she winds her discussion of a wide range of invertebrates around ideas of time--time past, future time, the scale of time, and so on. Her writing is elegant and accessible; part memoir and part science. I recommend all her books.
I really enjoyed this book by a writer who has frequently contributed to The New Yorker. Sue Hubbell's tales of meeting with scientists who specialize in specific invertebrates are all spell-binding to someone like me, who loves sea creatures. Waiting for Aphrodite is fascinating peek into the lives of a few charming invertebrates, along with a frank personal perspective on aging.
A splendid read because Hubbell integrates her own story with her fascination with invertebrates: sea urchins, earthworms, pill bugs, spiders, millipedes, bees, horseshoe crabs, and the sea mouse (Aprophodite)which is a worm that inhabits deep parts of the ocean. "We humans are a minority of giants, stumbling around in the world of little things."
Splendid book! Sue Hubbell allows us to walk beside her, share her adventures and find meaning among the natural history and people around her. She pursues millipedes, sponges, and sea mice. Even if you think slimy sea creatures are disgusting, you will understand Hubbell's affection for such animals because of the skill with which she describes her quest for them and her experience of each.
Good descriptions of one invertebrate after another, but that was one invertebrate too many. I'd have liked to have had more description of her life in Maine. Nothing bad here, actually rather interesting, but too much for one time.
Sue Hubbell is a graduate of the Universtiy of Southern California. She received a master's degree in library science from the Drexel Institute of Technology and was a librarian at Brown University. In addition to her books she has written for Time Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, the New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She currently resides in Maine.
“[N]o such thing as objective writing, . . . every inscription, every traveler's tale, every news account, every piece of technical writing, tells more about the author and his time than it does about the ostensible subject.”
“What is forever,' I asked. . . . Forever, it appeared, was a word made up by adults so they would not have to think about endings. . . . A friend who is an attorney told me not that long ago that a recent national survey of legal documents shows that 'forever' lasts about thirty years on average. But, if forever can mean until governments fall or lose interest, what does 700 million years mean when the whole history of governments, the very idea of governments, is subsumed into inconsequence by that span of time?”More quotes…