by Hugh Raffles

I make it a point to read Orion’s book of the year each year. It’s one of my favorite magazines and their book selection is unparalleled. So when Insectopedia was named the winner of the 2011 Orion Book Award, I raced out to the bookstore to sink my teeth into it.

The format was unexpected; it actually is an encyclopedia about insects! But rather that the usual A-Z describing insect lifecycles and  reproductive habits, this encyclopedia dives into the complicated and entertaining relationship that people and insects have had with each other over time. Stories range from malaria victims in the Amazon to an artist who is fascinated with deformed and mutated bugs.

The titles of each of the topics are arranged alphabetically, and so, in theory, one could feel free to skip boring sections, and go back and forth as they choose among the topics. However, I appreciated reading the book in the order in which it was presented, and rarely found myself bored at all. For a 386 page book about bugs, that’s really saying something.

I encourage you to read this book and join us in a group discussion. We will be discussing this book at Nature’s Narratives Book Discussion Group on November 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm. Please register to join us for the discussion and check out the other must-reads as part of this group!

Liz Haegele
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