Spiders: Learning to Love them


Chini, a wolf spider  (Lycosa godeffroyi) with one young.

Although this book is primarily about the incredible science of spiders from all over the world, some of our backyard residents had their personal stories told.

The Stars of the Book

Photos: Damian and Lynne Kelly

Theresa, a wolf spider  (Lycosa godeffroyi) with a back full of young. I followed her through her many traumas. And the camera caught them all.

Erio-3, a garden orb weaver (Eriophora biapicata) who wove  a new web every night for months.

Legless, a 7-legged black house spider (Badumna insignis) who also had a pretty traumatic summer that year. This photo makes her look scary. She wasn’t. She was my favourite.

Chini again, just after some birds had dug up her burrow. She’s emerging to check the damage. The choughs got many of my wolf spiders that year, but Chini managed to survive to breed again.

A sideways portrait of Theresa with her first lot of young on her back. She managed another hundred or so young two months later.

When I was an arachnophobe, I could not have conceived of this adoration of spiders as being possible. Now I have had people who have read the book telling me that their entire attitude has changed. They see silk everywhere (it is!) and their attitude is now one of fascination. What more could an author ask for?

The media reviews have been fantastic, as has the reaction to the book at interviews and public speaking events. I am really chuffed!

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

It can be purchased at all good bookshops, including online.

Spiders tells of my journey from arachnophobia to obsession while introducing the reader to these extraordinary creatures.

The book shows readers how to get to know their own personal home spiders.

One thing which is certain - you will all have some.

Spiders are everywhere - they just tend to stay well hidden if they can.

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.

I blog their lives at The Spiderblogger.

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.

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.

Photographed at left are the presenter, arachnologist Graham Milledge, Ian Bowring from Allen & Unwin, and myself. Graham Milledge 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!