Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Waiting for Aphrodite: Journeys into the Time Before Bones by Sue Hubbell

Sue Hubbell has a passion for invertebrates that is contagious. A long time ago, I read three of her earlier books: A Country Year; A Book of Bees; and Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs. They were really enjoyable. Even though I don't have a particular interest in bugs, I do appreciate fine nature writing and I love learning about the world.

I came across Hubbell's audiobook Waiting for Aphrodite [Recorded Books: 7 hrs 45 min] because I was searching the OneClick e-audiobook database for whatever was available that was narrated by Barbara Caruso. Caruso is one of the narrators of The History of Love, which I recently reviewed. Her warm voice nicely captures Hubbell's humble curiosity in Waiting for Aphrodite.

As I listened, I found myself considering spiders, millipedes, sea urchins and many other little creatures in a new light. Did you know that there are such things as sea mice? They are furry, ocean-dwelling iridescent worms, also called aphrodite. The more I learn about a creature, the kindlier I feel towards it. Hubbell assures me that this is a characteristic of the human species; we call it compassion.

Hubbell makes a good case for ecological conservation, one that is based on nervousness or fear, tempered by compassion. Fear, because we don't understand enough about our ecosystem to know what harm we will do to ourselves by eliminating other species. I like her ethics.

Readalikes: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard) and The Botany of Desire (Michael Pollan).

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