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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  3,394 ratings  ·  853 reviews
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.
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and se
ebook, 119 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Elisabeth Tova Bailey was 34 when she was struck with a mysterious, flu-like illness while traveling in Switzerland. Upon her return home, the flu symptoms subsided, but her health did not return. She found herself so weak and dizzy she was barely able to sit up, let alone stand or care for herself, and her doctors had no idea why.

Bailey's life changed radically at that point, shrinking to a single room almost entirely cut off from the outside world. On impulse, a friend brought her a pot of wil
Dear, dear was I to know that you are the epitome of elegance and strength of character?

Bailey develops a mysterious illness at the end of a trip to the Swiss Alps. While convalescing on her farm in Maine, she is trying to adjust to the sudden loss of control in her life. Practically incapacitated, and depending on the assistance of a caregiver and irregular visits from friends, she soon succumbs to depression and the monotony of the sick bed. A friend decides to bring nature to
Nov 19, 2011 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: John Speer
I allowed myself a long and slow read for this small memoir of one year during a woman's lengthy, 20 year convalescence from an unknown virus. That year was made special by the presence of a snail brought in from the woods outside by a visitor. The author, Elisabeth Tova Bailey, was unable to live in her own home at that time, was feeling alienated from life, her surroundings, and felt isolated. This small creature led her to a year of observation, learning, fostering, and companionship. I learn ...more
I accidentally read this. Downloaded a sample to my Kindle> liked it> bought the book to read later but just wanted to read a few more pages> read it all.

This is a quiet, intimate book about a woman and her land snail. The youthful author contracts some unknown and completely debilitating virus while vacationing abroad. This virus changes her body permanently. One day she is brimming with joyeux de vivre and the next day she is bedridden, betrayed by her body and literally without the a
Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester
Is it a memoir or a beautiful piece of nature writing? It is both, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a Neohelix albolabris, the common woodland snail, and encourage you to pick this book up and escape into a world you may never have known to exist...

Elisabeth Tova Bailey found herself suffering from a debilitating unknown illness that left her with severe neurological symptoms and virtually bedridden all the time. As her illness progressed, and as she had to move out of her farmhouse and to
Apr 28, 2015 Almeta rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Almeta by: Artfullyoung1
I have often stated that I need to get my larnin’ in disguise; I need to be tricked into it.

Because of this, I have a fondness for biology books like Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body and The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, which do not read like textbooks; in which the author does not talk condescendingly and chapters read like an intriguing story book, with pictures.

I’m pretty sure that author:Elisabeth Tova Bailey never intended to be
Having a favorite animal is very childish, isn't it? When I was a kid I was nicknamed Turtle because of how slow I ran. My dad, who coached me in softball, used to say that I was the only one who could hit it over the fence and still get a triple. I owned that nickname and learned to draw both realistic and cartoon turtles and often received turtle items as gifts. Even my senior year in high school, my first boyfriend made me a metal cast turtle that I still have.

There are kids in my second gra
When Elisabeth Tova Bailey returns from a vacation with a debilitating disease, she is confined to bedrest. A friend found a woodland snail and a bunch of field violets in the Maine woods to cheer her up. The snail was soon transferred from a flowerpot to a terrarium full of woodland plants, with a shell holding water and mushrooms for food. Bailey found watching the snail to be fascinating and relaxing:

"Watching it glide along was a welcome distraction and provided a sort of meditation; my ofte
I'm just enthralled, and suggest everyone go to to learn more about the author and this slim volume of pure inspiration. Thanks to Heather Sturm for bringing this to the attention of our book club--I plan to buy my own copy very soon.

This observation states my views most clearly:

"Like Seabiscuit's Laura Hillenbrand, this author is at the house-bound, often bed-bound extreme of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (brain stem inflammation), a condition similar to Lyme mockingly l
"...the snail had emerged from its shell into the alien territory of my room, with no clue as to where it was or how it had arrived; the lack of vegetation and the desertlike surroundings must have seemed strange. The snail and I were both living in altered landscapes not of our choosing; I figured we shared a sense of loss and displacement."

Elisabeth Tova Bailey was in her mid-thirties when struck with a mysterious illness that soon led to her complete incapacitation. Without knowing the cause,
♥ Marlene♥
Loved loved it.

First I have to tell you something about myself. I am known as the snail saviour. I am always telling everybody when they are visiting and tred in my garden, beware of my snails.

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They are scared when they accidently do step on one because they know i will get my whip out!

A few weeks ago I removed most of the snails I could find in my back garden to my front garden, because I knew my dad and brother would not notice if they'd walk on my snails, while they were installi
The writing and the premise of this book were great but the execution left a lot to be desired. I sympathized with the author’s horrible debilitating condition and felt the book offered a lot of insight about disability. However, the snail facts felt choppy and disconnected and I wish they had been incorporated into the narrative a bit better. The constant personification of the snail made me feel like the author kind of didn’t understand the animal very well. For instance, constantly feeling ba ...more
A great book for someone who is chronically ill or wants a unique perspective on what it's like. I really identified with the main character in this book. As someone who is frequently stuck in bed with a chronic illness, I found a lot of not only similar sentiments in the narrator but also inspiring thoughts.

I never thought that I would enjoy a book about snails so much, and, to be perfectly honest, I think I took one star off because I got bored with the snail topic after awhile.
This was a lovely book. I have always had a thing for snails and slugs so when I happened across this title I bought it without looking into what it was. I’m glad I didn’t because if I were to describe it to you it would sound dull. It was not.

The author contracts a mysterious, debilitating disease and is prostrate for months on end, needing care from those around her and unable to move from her bed without assistance. She doesn't dwell on her disease or personal circumstances, but you get the i
I really wanted to write a full review, but it got erased as I was halfway through typing it. Since my health will not allow me to rewrite it, I will instead simply share a few of my favorite quotes, found below. While all the quotes are about illness (which resonated with me deeply, for obvious reasons), this book is much more about Bailey's observations of the mysterious life and behaviors of an unexpected companion at her bedside: a small snail given to her as a gift. It is a beautifully writ ...more
Susan Ideus
"Survival often depends on a specific focus: A relationship, a belief, or a hope balanced on the edge of possibility. Or something more ephemeral: the way the sun passes through the hard seemingly impenetrable glass of a window and warms the blanket, or how the wind, invisible but for its wake, is so loud one can hear it through the insulated walls of a house."

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating records a year in the life of author Elisabeth Tova Bailey—a year in which she struggled for her survi
Waverly Fitzgerald
The most soothing book I’ve ever read. It moves at a snail’s pace. Small in size, lyrical in language, precise in observation, delicate in articulation.

The author, Elizabeth Tova Bailey, is bedridden due to a mysterious auto-immune disease. A friend bringers her a flowerpot containing a wild violet from the nearby woods, and along with the plant, a snail. Bailey watches the snail and becomes fascinated by its journeys. Up and down the pot to sip the water that collects in the saucer. She figures
Diane Barnes
I picked up this book because it seemed to be a quick read (190 pages) while I was waiting for another download for a library book to be available. Wow! What a surprise. Who knew snails could be so facinating? The author is a victim of a strange disease that keeps her bedridden. A friend brought her a pot of violets she had dug up in the woods, and there just happened to be a snail in residence. She becomes fascinated with his movements and motives and begins her research. They are intelligent l ...more
Welp, if there is any one book to make you feel like you've just wasted two months of bed rest, it's this one. ;)

Although I have not been confined to the degree the author was, and I have known all along that the end is in sight for me, the frustration of bed rest can be all-consuming. I did find ways to deal with it, but nothing quite so beautiful as the author's snail adventure, except for maybe observing the fascinating developments of my belly...but those observations for me have been couple
Julie Markham
"Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten. But the snail....the snail kept my spirit from evaporating."

Having an isolating and chronic illness myself this book struck a very personal chord. The author Bailey contracts what is later revealed to be tick-borne encephalitis and CFS and while she is bedridden she becomes fascinated with her "pet" snail. The majority of the book is made up of snail facts, from their anatomy to behaviors and everything in between,
One of the many fun things about goodreads is being inspired to leave my reading comfort zone. This is usually a win-win proposition. When I end up liking the book, I feel excited that I expanded my horizons. When I end up hating the book, I get to write a snarky review. Worst case scenario, I feel kind of neutral or ambivalent about the book in which case I may or may not finish it but at least I can say I tried.

“The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” fell into the latter category. Animals are reall
A short, uplifting memoir, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is the story of Elisabeth Tova Bailey's illness and recovery. A healthy, active woman, she is quite suddenly struck down by a mystery illness, which proves difficult to diagnose and treat. One day, she is brought a pot of violets as a gift by a friend, and inside the pot is a snail. As she is bedridden, the snail becomes a kind of pet, as she observes its daily movements, becomes accustomed to its habits, and begins to feel emotionally ...more
Perhaps one of the best outcomes of getting my kindle is that I have branched out in my reading choices. Typically, I stick within the genres of murder mystery or thriller/suspense. If I go to a bookstore, I make a beeline for those sections, and barely glance at any others. However, since getting this device (thanks, Honey!), I have perused the Amazon daily deals religiously each morning, and bought several titles that are well outside the norm for me.

As a result, this book. Quaint, informative
Anderson's Bookshops
Gail Wetta said: "This slender volume is packed with peacefulness--I truly felt myself relaxing as I read it--perhaps slowing to a snail's pace? The story centers around a woman confined to bed rest because of an odd neurological illness. She receives a woodland snail as an unlikely companion and so begins a tale of natural history and human nature. Having read my share of dry biological articles and texts in college, this was a rare treat. Ms. Bailey provides "tons" of scientific info on these ...more
I relate to the author's angst in craving daily movements. Not to the same extent, nor for as much time...but I definitely recognized those feelings of wanting simple physical movements and not being able to do them. I was keenly aware of what that feels like.

Her snail may not like fresh plants, but my garden slugs sure do. They can eat my entire fresh garden in a night if they feel like it.

I kept waiting for the doctors to tell her that the cure for her mysterious disease was escargot, and the
Catherine McGinnes
When I was a kid I once started a worm farm where I captured a few worms from around my yard and put them onto a dirt patch beside my porch. I managed to catch a bunch but once I reached the point that I couldn't find anymore, I gave up looking and sat to watch them wriggle around in the earth.
I walked away after about ten minutes when I realized that worms are really fucking boring. Just like this book. This book was really fucking boring.
Basically the 'Gerald's Game' of inspirational, snail-r
This book was a surprise. I only picked it up so I could query and agent and say "By the way, I read a book you repped"-- and I was delighted with the peculiar blend of illness memoir and scientific rapture on mollusks. It's a bit of a meandering narrative, but there were some gems of insight and I enjoyed learning more about snails.

It made me want to get a pet snail.

The book is a very short read, and it had a several nice lines that I could relate to from my own experience on bedrest with an un
my sister gave me this small book for Christmas 2013. Once I started, I could not put it down. Fortunately, it is not a long book so did not take very long to read.

Having dealt with MS for nearly 15 years now, this book was especially meaningful and poignant.

While Ms. Bailey was bed-bound for an extended period of time from a mysterious and debilitating illness, a friend stopped to visit her rural home, and brought her an unlikely creature for a gift.

The book is not only a journal of her day

This is such an interesting and original book. It is also very informative about snails!

I've never given much thought to snails before, they're just sort of 'there'. But this book has made me view them in a whole new light.

The second half of the book becomes more factual, providing lots of snail information. But the first half of the book is quite moving at times, offering a different perspective on life - especially if you've never suffered any serious illness.

Kate Ressman
Review: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Recommended for: People who liked The Butterfly and the Diving Bell or Salt

I picked up this quiet little book at the library because I could not pass up the title. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating just intrigued me the way The Elegance of the Hedgehog did. On top of that it was a short book, not even 200 pages.

Bailey's voice is what comes through most. This is a true story. It's more than just information about snails. It's about t
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Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s essays and short stories have been published in The Missouri Review, Northwest Review, and the Sycamore Review. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and a Notable Essay Listing in Best American Essays. She lives in Maine.
More about Elisabeth Tova Bailey...

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“Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten. But the snail....the snail kept my spirit from evaporating.” 18 likes
“The life of a snail is as full of tasty food, comfortable beds of sorts, and a mix of pleasant and not-so-pleasant adventures as that of anyone I know” 10 likes
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