Inspirational book for a future entomologist (with a spider focus) ?
December 8, 2017 2:10 PM   Subscribe

A good and terribly brilliant friend is currently a college freshman with a life-long enthusiasm for the insect world, and an eye toward a career in entomology. Her passion: spiders. I'd like to find a book on spiders (or on the greater world of insects) for her as a Christmas gift, something special.

...I'm not sure if it should be something with a scientific focus, a text that she could reference for years, or a coffee-table type book with beautiful photos of individuals of the order Araneae (ie, spiders). I'm leaning towards the latter.

Any suggestions? (... and other gift ideas revolving around the insect world are also welcome, although I really want to get her a book first and foremost)
posted by Auden to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
this is pretty great. for layperson science-ologists. lots of history, lore, and science.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

To go along with the serious book, you might consider this!
posted by 8603 at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2017

Would Tomás Saraceno’s work with spiders, their webs and astrophysicists be too “out there”? It’s endlessly fascinating... 14 Billions catalogue.
posted by progosk at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2017

I can ask an entomologist friend from college.

If ants are as acceptable as spiders Edward O. Wilson knows a thing or two about ants. That book has a great reputation (it won the Pulitzer Prize). I think it can be either a scientific reference or a coffee-table type book. More basic version.
posted by Schmucko at 4:08 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed Eisner's For Love of Insects which is about his career in research.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:39 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I might be tempted to add a gently used copy of Charlotte's Web, for sentimental reasons.
posted by ezust at 4:51 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

For Love of Insects sounds great and appropriate, it's going in the Amazon cart, thanks sciencegeek. And thanks everyone else for your suggestions so far as well!
posted by Auden at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2017

Children of Time is a novel about a spider society in space. It's a lot better than it sounds!
posted by esoterrica at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

This one is a bit silly, but my dear friend got Insectlopedia for me for Christmas one year, back when we were both grad students teaching an entomology lab. The insect poetry is wonderfully catchy and the illustrations are great. I loved it then, and I love it nearly 20 years later as I have most of the poems memorized from reading it time and time again with my kids.

And extra points for spider references! Especially, The Daddy Long-Legs: Oh, Daddy... Daddy-O; How'd you get those legs to grow? So very long and lean in size. From spiderobic exercise? Did you drink milk? Or chew on cheese? And, by the way, where are your knees? Oh, Daddy... Daddy-O; How'd you get those legs to grow?
posted by hessie at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sir David Attenborough has an older BBC series on mostly insects but there is a whole episode devoted to spiders, titled Life in the Undergrowth. Sometimes it's on Netflix but atm looks like DVD is the only way in the US (sorry).

Richard Conniff also has a great book of essays about his adventures with inverts.
posted by Drosera at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2017

Thanks, everyone!

If anyone is also interested in this subject, I'm going to post this update:

I emailed an arachnologist with the same question, and below is his reply, in part:

"... There are several photographic books on spiders, but I'd have to say that they are not yet as up to date or as inclusive as Rich Bradley's Common Spiders of North America. Our Spiders of North America is more technical, but if she is really interested in pursuing a career in arachnology, this is even more up to date taxonomically, as Ramirez' monograph on dionychan (two-clawed) spiders had not come out yet when Rich published. It does lack the color illustrations (which are excellent) in Rich's book. There is also a very nice color illustrated (paintings by Tim Manolis) guide to California and Pacific Coast spiders by R. J. Adams (Field Guide to the Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States, University of California Press) which may be of interest. For venomous spiders I can only recommend Rick Vetter's The Brown Recluse Spider, which really has more accurate information on not just brown recluses, but all venomous spiders, than any book that I have ever seen. Most of the photographic books are more coffee table than otherwise, but for a review of arachnids generally I would have to recommend Jan Beccaloni and Trudy Brannan's book Arachnids."
posted by Auden at 9:10 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Insect Lives should be right behind For Love of Insects: it’s not only great entomology but also about what it’s like to be an entomologist, as reported by an array of working scientists.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm an arachnologist, and I second Bradley's book on spiders. For a smaller gift, maybe an addon or something, I recommend The Spiders and their Kin, a golden guide books by Levi. For a truly professional invaluable source, Spiders of North America is the go to guide for identification. Feel free to msg me if you need any clarification.
posted by dhruva at 2:05 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would call Wading for Bugs something special. It is composed of about 25 brief stories, each by a different entomologist, describing some kind of experience they've had studying an aquatic insect (sadly, no spiders). Some of them are quite poetic. The book is an unusual mix of technical information with very personal writing.
posted by polecat at 12:10 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

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