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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (edition 2010)

by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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6416215,089 (4.11)135
Member:-Cee-
Title:The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Authors:Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Info:Algonquin Books (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Kindle, Memoir, Snails

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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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English (58)  German (3)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
So this isn't my usual type of book. Nothing much happens; it's a quiet, reflective, almost meditative book, written by a near-invalid who spends a significant portion of a bed-ridden year musing on the life and nature of the wild snail someone has brought to live in a terrarium by her bedside. The surprising thing to me is that I was actually fascinated, and didn't find it at all a chore to read -- it was peaceful, and relaxing, almost as though I were taking a long nature walk at, well, at a snail's pace. I'm not sure I'd choose to read another book of this sort for awhile, but this time, it was a marvelous antidote to the stresses of a hurried and harried lifestyle. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |


Each evening the snail awoke and with astonishing poise moved gracefully to the rim of the pot and peered over, surveying, once again, the strange country that lay ahead. Pondering its circumstance with a regal air, as if from the turret of a castle, it waved its tentacles first this way and then that, as though responding to a distant melody.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a gentle, slow, sweet book.

A book for savouring.

A book that I would like to read all over again – this time an actual physical book, not just the e-book the library lent me. Don’t get me wrong – I very much enjoy e-books, their immediacy, their availability, their readability (yes, readability, you read that right – with a 14-month-old in the house, reading on an iPhone is better than not reading at all! Wee reader loves to turn pages, especially those not of board books, so put one of my books on a sofa and he’ll head straight to it, patting the pages, turning them).

Anyway, back to the book. Elisabeth Tova Bailey (an alias) was travelling in Europe when she was struck by some mysterious illness that left her with severe neurological symptoms and resulted in being bedridden. On a visit, a friend brings some flowers and a snail. And Bailey is struck by this little snail, which wanders off the flower pot and down the crate at night, and as her interest in gastropods grows, she reads more about their history, lifestyle, habits, and observes her little friend as it slides and glides its way to her – and her readers’ – hearts. Who would have thought that a little book about a little creature could say so much?

“I listened carefully. I could hear it eating. The sound was of someone very small crunching celery continuously. I watched, transfixed, as over the course or an hour the snail meticulously ate an entire purple petal for dinner.” ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
I was a little disappointed to learn more about snails than I was in the intimate relationship between creature and author. I felt my assumptions about what I was to read had been misled. This wiould have been just as good in a book of short stories or essays perhaps with some more personalthoughts and less scientific data. ( )
  MarkPSadler | Jan 17, 2016 |
This is a beautifully written memoir of a woman who contracts a mysterious but debilitating illness that leaves her bedridden for over a year. A friend brings a snail from the forest and places it on a flowerpot on her windowsill. She becomes attached to the snail, her constant companion during those long hours spent alone in her bed. The author describes her insights into the snail's psychology and becomes interested enough to read about snails in great depth. Rather than being a depressing recollection of a year in bed with little hope of recovery, this story is a lovely description of her love of nature and the wonders of living creatures as simple as a snail. ( )
1 vote krazy4katz | Oct 29, 2015 |
Her writing was utterly stunning. So beautiful. It was my favourite thing about this book, the way she could use words to leave such an impact and make you think about her comparisons between humans, snails and her illness.
This book was interesting but I found it to be a bit boring for my tastes just because I've never been interested in learning such intimate details about a snail's life. I definitely preferred when she was talking about her illness because I felt like I could relate more with that. The snail information was interesting, don't get me wrong, and I think she displayed in such a way that kept me reading the book. I found that despite being bored at some points, I see still overall enjoyed this book. ( )
  ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
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Epigraph
A small pet is often an excellent companion.
-- Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing, 1912
The natural world is the refuge of the spirit... richer even than human imagination.
--Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia, 1984
Dedication
To biophilia
First words
In early spring, a friend went for a walk in the woods, and glancing down at the path, saw a snail. Picking it up, she held it gingerly in the palm of her hand and carried it back toward the studio where I was convalescing.
Quotations
...my grandfather settled into life as a country doctor...when he answered a patient's call, even in the middle of the night, his very first words were always, "I am so sorry that you are not feeling well." How rare is it to hear a doctor express such empathy.
It seemed far more sensible to belong to a species that had evolved natural tooth replacement than to belong to one that had developed the dental profession.
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Book description
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence in a terrarium alongside her bed. She enters the rhythm of life of this mysterious creature, and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, she shares the inspiring and intimate story of her close encounter with Neohelix albolabris - acommon woodland snail. Intrigued by the snail's world - from its strange anatomy to its mysterious courtship activities - she becomes a fascinated and amused observer of the snail's curious life. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is an affirmation of the healing power of nature, revealing how much of the world we miss in our busy daily lives, and how truly magical it is. A remarkable journey of survival and resilience, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating shows how a small part of the natural world can illuminate our own human existence and deepen our appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
Haiku summary
Most unlikely friend,
Humble snail, shows me the way.
Glide here. Stick there. Wait.

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In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a "Neohelix albolabris" --a common woodland snail.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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