Book Review: Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

If you know me, follow me on Twitter or read my writing, you probably have a pretty good idea that I’m a huge bug dork and partial to anything without a backbone. When Norwegian entomologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson’s new book Extraordinary Insects: Weird. Wonderful. Indespensible. The ones who run the world. showed up in my Twitter timeline, I naturally tracked it down and ordered it immediately. It has just been translated into English and published in the UK, the US release comes in July. In Norway, where it was originally published, it has become a best-seller.

The very day the book arrived I began reading it and finished in just a couple of days. If, like me, you read A LOT of insect books, some of the information covered in the chapters about insect anatomy, reproduction, their role in the food chain and how they impact humans, among others, will be familiar territory. But Anne also includes lesser known creatures and new science, including her own fascinating work on hollow oak trees. The chapters are broken into bite-size segments that are easy for the casual reader to digest and packed with interesting facts. Anne’s writing is conversational, often humorous, full of pop culture references and her analogies are spot on, making complex ideas clear. The book is peppered with many beautiful illustrations highlighting some of the topics covered in the text.

Although many of the topics were familiar to me, a couple I even cover in my own upcoming book, there were so many facts and stories that I was absorbed from start to finish. It’s a book that makes you want to throw open the window, lean out and start shouting insect facts to the world.

DID YOU KNOW that spiders eat up to 800 billion tons of insects every single year?! As Anne puts it, “the spiders of the planet could eat up every human being on Earth in a single year and still have room for more.”

We should be grateful that spiders don’t eat us, and that they do eat insects, preventing bugs from completely taking over the world.

Or would that really be such a bad thing?

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.
Kelly Brenner
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