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Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys into the Time Before Bones

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  26 reviews
"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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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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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
missy jean
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Scott Bilodeau
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some of the very best naturalist writing I have read over the years. A book to savor chapter by
chapter exploring the almost invisible world beneath us. Reinforced my intent to keep grandchildren
from wanting to kill every bug they encounter!
Kate Savage
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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 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
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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, tbr-list
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.
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Wendy Feltham
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
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."
A.D. Morel
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 17, 2011 marked it as abandoned
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.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hubbell's prose is as if she is carefully turning over stones and describing to you what she finds. More science than personal... if you like learning about the small creatures, this is a good book.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone curious about invertebrates
Recommended to Amy by: Anna
A great natural history read...and it actually makes invertebrates seem as cool as they are! Well told stories about interesting creatures.
Sep 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable popular-science natural history.
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
An very interesting journey into the world of invertabrates
Bruce Carr
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A reflection of mankind through yah examination of sea creatures.
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You know when more than one person gives you the same book it was meant to be.
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Essays on the creatures of the invertebrate class...camel crickets, sea cucumbers, millipedes, sponges, periwinkles, coral, earthworms, horseshoe crabs, and the elusive sea mouse. Good stuff.
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, essays
A lot of what Hubbell writes about in this book has been in the news since and there are already revisions to the science in some cases, but overall an at least interesting collection.
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
she cares about the little things
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
Hubbell blends natural history, journalism, and a little personal narrative in the is delightful look at invertebrates.
Laureli Collins
rated it really liked it
Feb 04, 2014
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Sep 29, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2016
Derek Miranda
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Feb 26, 2017
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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.” 3 likes
“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?” 1 likes
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