Spiders: learning to love them

My fourteenth book, Spiders: Learning To Love Them is published by Allen & Unwin in Australia and the US, and by Orion in the UK.


Spiders tells of my journey from arachnophobia to obsession while introducing the reader to the science of these extraordinary creatures – their vast variety, amazing uses of silk and extraordinary sex lives, physiology, behaviour and why they aren’t scary at all.

I become more obsessed every day as I watch my personal spiders around the house and in the garden. They never fail to do new and even more interesting things. It is all free – the only price is that I have to neglect the housework.

Spiders was judged the “Best book in the category of Natural History” in the 2009 Whitley Awards. It was awarded a Certificate of Commendation in what are the most prestigious awards in Australia for zoological writing. The awards are presented at the Australian Museum by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

Arachnologist Graham Milledge, when presenting the award, commented that, even though he has been in the field for a very long time, he still couldn’t put the book down. And, unlike other recent books on spiders for the general reader, Spiders was scientifically accurate – he couldn’t find a single mistake! That thrilled me totally – spiders are not an easy group of animals to get right – there are so many of them and they are so variable.

IMG_6626-front-por-1000As I write, I often have arachnid company. This little white-mostache jumping spider (Jotus auripes) came onto my desk, climbed the massive (spider scale) computer cord, walked across the keyboard, looked at me and then at the screen …



… then turned and walked away, dropping a poo on the desk as he went. A literary critic.


The stars of the book are the individual spiders whose stories are told. These include Chini, a wolf spider (Lycosa godeffroyi) who lived in a  burrow in the zucchini patch. Here she is peering form her burrow with one of her babies peering out beside her. I adored that spider!

Some of the media comments:

“Kelly’s battle to overcome arachnophobia has spawned a terrific book … But Kelly’s Spiders is a book for the layman, not the scientist. It is packed with scientific facts and would be a great starting kit for amateur naturalists toying with the idea of getting to know spiders better… But, at the end of the day, this book is a love letter to the most misunderstood of animals.” Nigel Adlam, Sunday Territorian

I must admit, I couldn’t put this one down, reading it at every opportunity and grateful for a three-hour train journey that let me finish reading it without the usual guilt with work needing to be done. Colleen Duncan, ArtsRush Magazine

This is the ideal gift for any arachnophobe in the family. Noel Shaw, Launceston Examiner

I confess. I am an avowed arachnophobe. Yet, somehow, that cute little hairy critter with the bug eyes on the cover persuaded me that this was a book worth reviewing…Kelly’s aim is to convince the reader that spiders are fascinating…Subtitled Learning to Love Them, it sort of succeeds. Although “learning to tolerate them” might be more accurate. Sydney Morning Herald.

It is probably more than you ever wanted to know about spiders, but Kelly is a science writer so it is all accurate, clearly written and well illustrated. In a word: enthusiastic. Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville Bulletin

Enthusiastically converted to the cause of arachnids, Kelly succeeds in conveying her passion in clear prose anchored in potent content. Prepare for arachnid cannibalism, masturbation, bondage, even soft spider porn – well, a sizzling description of courting huntsman spiders. David Wilson, South China Morning Post

Highly readable and packed with important, and totally amazing, spider facts, this book casts new light on these often misunderstood members of the animal kingdom. Doubleday Entertainment

Kelly’s primary intention here is to repeatedly insist that the humble spider is sorely misunderstood and that, as they’re absolutely everywhere and (she thinks) fascinating…we ought to just get over our fears and become pals with the hairy, venomous, multi-eyed little buggers. Meek Mouse, Rip It Up

Give this to your favourite arachnophobe. Frances Rand, South Coast Register

‘Spiders: Learning to love them’ is the perfect introduction to the creatures which share our homes and gardens. Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga

Her book is ideal for those who adore spiders or reel in horror in their presence, and reveals a web-of-intrigue – sorry – about a fascinating creepy-crawly.  Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin.

Share on Share on FacebookPin on PinterestPrint this pageTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

One thought on “Spiders: learning to love them”

  1. I’m glad that you correctly identified your male Jotus auripes! This species is usually mis-identified. Nice Phidippus female on the cover, also. I live in South Carolina where we have quite a few species of this genus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *