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The Bugs of Literature: A Flow Chart

Jenn Northington

Director, Editorial Operations

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL.

Got some favorite creepy-crawlers in literature? Can you think of even one? I didn’t think I could until I read The Bees by Laline Paull, a new novel which takes place entirely inside a bee-hive. Protagonist? Bee. Villain? Bees, wasps, spiders. Supporting cast? Also bees, with some fruit flies thrown in for good measure. It’s a feat of world-building, without a doubt, and it got me reminiscing about other trips I’ve taken into the insect world in literature. And as I fell down the inevitable rabbit hole of research, I found more bugs than I could keep track of — many of whom are well worth meeting, some of whom might send you running the other way. If you’re looking to add some more legs, wings, and exoskeletons to your reading experience, I’m delighted to present The Bugs of Literature: A Flow Chart. Choose your path wisely!


The Bible

Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Alice in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
The Once and Future King,
T.S. Eliot
James and the Giant Peach
Roald Dahl
Nick Harkaway
The Silence of the Lambs,
Thomas Harris
The Metamorphosis,
Franz Kafka
Everybody Sees the Ants
A.S. King
The Bees,
Laline Paull
Grasshopper Jungle
Andrew Smith
Wicked Bugs,
Amy Stewart
Bram Stoker
The Hobbit
, J.R.R. Tolkien
Invasive Species, Joseph Wallace
Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

P.S. Did I mention that I went down a rabbit hole? There are way more bugs in literature than I could fit (and some that I have yet to meet personally) — many thanks to Twitter and Megan Fitzpatrick in particular for all the amazing suggestions! So tell me, which of your favorites did I miss?