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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

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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.

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 sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world.

Intrigued by the snail’s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal. 

Told with wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published August 15, 2010

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About the author

Elisabeth Tova Bailey

2 books202 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,964 reviews
Profile Image for Lena.
Author 1 book348 followers
April 9, 2011
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 wild violets and a woodland snail she'd found on a walk. Both Bailey and the snail were initially confused by this sudden change to their ecosystems, but it wasn't long before Bailey, who lacked the strength to hold a book or watch an assaultively noisy television, found herself mesmerized by her new companion.

Over the course of this small book, Bailey learns to care for and relate to this tiny creature whose pace so closely matches her own. Her discoveries about the snail unfold with unexpected delight, and her pages teach us about both the enchanting secrets of mollusks and the psychology of successfully managing a debilitating illness.

It's hard to describe just how phenomenally well written this book is. One wouldn't think that a book about a sick woman and her snail would be much of a page-turner, but I found myself looking forward to its lovely, quiet discoveries and profound insights with real anticipation.

This is in part because Bailey has taken the time to masterfully craft each sentence in this book, eliminating anything unnecessary in the way that those of us with limited energy are required to do. She has also kept the focus extremely tight, with the snail and its compelling habits at the center, her own illness in the background, and the rest of the world and the other humans in it on the hazy periphery. It is an enormously powerful and effective piece of writing that moved me a great deal, and not just because I have a milder version of Bailey's disease. At its core, this is a book about finding connection in the midst of punishing isolation and hope in the face of cruel and unexpected loss. It's one of the most beautiful and quietly inspiring books I've ever read.
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,061 reviews496 followers
January 2, 2021
I became aware somewhere in the middle of this book that I was saying, out loud, “geez”, over and over again. If it wasn’t an astounding thing I had never heard before about snails, it was reading what this poor woman had to go through with her viral, neurological illness (an acquired mitochondrial/metabolic disease) that nearly killed her.

I bet you didn’t know that:
• Snails cannot hear and they can barely see (they can make out light and dark); they have an acute sense of smell and also do pretty good regarding tasting and touching.
• They have eyes on top of their 2 tentacles (that sprout from their head), and they have one foot.
• They have 2,640 teeth, 80 rows, and the author likened the teeth to a rasp (a coarse file or similar metal tool with a roughened surface for scraping, filing, or rubbing down objects of metal, wood, or other hard material).

The author was ill for nearly 2 decades and for the longest time doctors were clueless as to what she had—but there was no doubt she was very sick. Her autonomic nervous system was seriously screwed up. She had severe hypotension and could not stand for any extended period of time (minutes!). During most of the writing of this book she was confined to bed where it was a tremendous effort to roll over. Good God…A tremendous effort to roll over? 😦

Her whole life for a while was keeping tabs on a snail that came from her garden and placed in a terrarium near her bed where she could watch it. So she became quite the expert on its behaviors and its anatomy and physiology. A good deal of the book we learned about snails and the rest was her reflections on her illness and on time which was really interesting. I think if the book was only about snails it would have been “just alright”, but her telling us how she felt and what she thought about her illness made for fascinating reading (for me at least).

One thing early on in the reading that bothered me was how she wrote about the snail using anthropomorphic language. The snail was contented, curious, pondering its circumstances, slowly waving its tentacles with apparent delight, etc. etc. But after awhile I said “Oh what the hell…” It made for interesting reading. If she were to have written about her observations using language reserved for a scientific journal I would have been bored. And I learned a lot about snails, and her book was carefully written with a number of reference works at the end. And she consulted with malacologists during the writing of this book (zoologists specializing in the study of mollusks). So I came to accept the anthropomorphizing, and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

Many of her reflections really hit home with me. These are just a couple:
• We are all hostages of time. We each have the same number of minutes and hours to live within a day, yet to me it didn’t feel equally doled out. My illness brought me such an abundance of time that time was nearly all I had. My friends had so little time that I often wished I could give them what time I could not use. It was perplexing how in losing health I had gained something so coveted but to so little purpose.
• I could never have guessed what would get me through this past year—a woodland snail and its offspring; I honestly don’t think I would have made it otherwise. Watching another creature go about its life…somehow gave me, the watcher, purpose too. If life mattered to the snail and the snail mattered to me, it meant something in my life mattered, so I kept on…

- When I read the above passage on the meaning that she got from life when she was very ill, it’s like I read it before in another book. And I thought for a while and it hit me…this was similar in thought to a passage that resonated with me from a fantastic book I read last November called Sweet Bean Paste (Durian Sukegawa). In it, a woman was reflecting on her life when she had been living in a leper colony, a virtual outcast from society. Was life worth living? And she said the following:
- I can’t tell you how many times I wish I were dead. Deep down, I believed that a life has no value if a person is not a useful member of society. I was convinced that humans are born to be of service to the world and to others.
- But there came a time when that changed, because I changed.
- I remember it clearly. It was a night of the full moon, and I was walking alone in the woods. … On this night, the moon cast its pale, brilliant light on everything around me, and energy seemed to radiate from trees swaying in the wind. … And oh, what a wonderful moon it was! I was enchanted. It made me forget everything I had suffered because of the illness, about being shut up in here and never getting out. Then next thing, I thought I heard a voice that sounded very much like the moon whispering to me. It said: I wanted you to see me. That’s why I shine like this.
- From then on, I began to see everything differently. If I were not here, this full moon would not be here. Neither would the trees. Or the wind. If my view of the world disappears, then everything that I see disappears. It’s as simple as that. ..- I began to understand that we were born in order to see and listen to the world. And that’s all this world wants of us. It doesn’t matter that I was never a teacher or a member of the workforce, my life had meaning.

• Winner of the 2010 John Burroughs Medal, the Natural History Literature category of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award (joint award), and the non-fiction category of the 2012 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

• This is a long but informative review from the Journal of The Institute for the Medical Humanities [Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2012]: http://www.elisabethtovabailey.net/fi...
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti... (a review from the editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal)
Profile Image for ♥ Marlene♥ .
1,688 reviews136 followers
May 27, 2015
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 tread in my garden, beware of my snails.

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 from 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 installing a new fence in my garden.

Two days ago my neigbour knocked on my window. I have something here for you?I thought "hmm maybe some nice food?" No it was a bowl filled with snails.

She had been working in her garden and knew I did not want her to kill snails, so she gave them back to me. And of course returned them to my back garden. I do not care if they eat my plants.

Anyway. I found out I did not know much about them after reading this book. I loved how she enjoyed watching her snail and her story made me realize how important ones health is. I have been in a lot of pains for year but I finally know what caused it and feel good.But you forget so quickly how bad it was.

Health is really the most important thing of all but it is so easy to forget, especially when you are young and feeling great. :)

Loved her writing style and I highly recommend this lovely book.
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,298 reviews112 followers
July 22, 2015
I never thought reading a book about a snail could be such a rewarding experience. Who knew so many people had written poems about snails?
Who knew that snails have a life and intelligence? I do now. I know a lot about snails that I never knew before. Until this wonderful book came my way, I thought the only good snail was a dead one.

Come on, you know you think the same thing! Read this book, it may change your mind.

Elisabeth Tova Bailey's story about a garden snail, picked up in the woods one day and transported into her sick room in a pot of wild violets is amazing. It is a journey in learning and discovery; first about a very special snail and second about a very special woman with an illness that most of us could never dream of experiencing. You will find unexpected humor, gentle revelations, amazing insight and awsome research all in less than 120 pages that will leave you feeling grateful to be well and part of a world that includes such an insignificant creature as a garden snail.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews52 followers
July 5, 2021
Dear, dear gastropod...how 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 her by planting wild violets in a pot, along with a little woodland snail that she happens to find in the woods, and placing them by her bedside.

What follows is a close observation of this little creature's habits and well...personality! No longer lonely, Bailey looks forward to each new day, and develops a voracious appetite for more snail research. The snail's determination, strength, and even romantic sensibilities are examples that are emulable. I could list all the great things that make snails so cool, but then you wouldn't read the book, right? Ugh! You're a sly one...

Although Bailey attributed all of the snail's intricate qualities to the theory of Evolution, her observations and case notes pointed me in the opposite direction. I was bowled over by its intelligent design, and the intelligent Creator behind it. Nothing was missed, from the way a snail ensures it's survival during winter to it's courtship rituals. Snails are deep! So true are the words found at Romans 1:20 "...For His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable..."

If you get a chance to read this, please do. I'm sure you'll relate to both the snail and the author, especially if you're an introvert, or find that you can't do what you used to do because of declining health. Take a lesson from the gastropod, and keep sliming ever forward!

Climb Mount Fuji
O snail
but slowly, slowly

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
Profile Image for Celia.
1,229 reviews165 followers
January 2, 2021
Elisabeth Tova Bailey is the strongest and finest person/author I have yet to encounter. This, her memoir, is also an educational document on the snail. Elisabeth suffers from an extremely debilitating condition keeping her in bed at all times. Enter the snail. I think it got into her room on the clothes of a visitor. The snail made its home in a flower pot containing violets. And then Elisabeth began to watch and learn. The snail slept with her during the day and kept her company while she suffered her sleepless nights. The reader is benefited: we meet Elisabeth and suffer with her through her days and learn so much about the snail as well.

"The sound was of someone very small munching celery continuously. I watched, transfixed, as over the course of an hour the snail meticulously ate an entire purple petal for dinner."

"My snail secreted a special kind of slime for locomotion, called pedal mucus, over which it traveled."

"The history of gastropod travel now included the unexpected journey of my own snail, which had arrived at my bedside by human transport."

"The emotional natures of snails, as far as love and affection are concerned, seem to be highly developed, and they show plainly by their actions, when courting, the tenderness they feel for each other. —JAMES WEIR, The Dawn of Reason, 1899"

And finally
"IT CAME DOWN to this: I envied my snail’s many abilities. I wished I could create an epiphragm (a temporary structure) at a moment’s notice and seal myself off from the challenges around me. If I couldn’t, like a snail, have strength equal to many times my weight, I’d settle for just getting my normal strength back. If I couldn’t glide straight up a wall or sleep stuck to the ceiling, I wished I could at least walk upright with the rest of my species. I wanted to escape from the chink of illness in which I was stuck."

These might not be the best quotes to describe these areas, but that means the book contains much more to describe all there is to know about Elisabeth and her snail.

PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. You will learn and feel so much.

5 stars
Profile Image for Lara Maynard.
373 reviews148 followers
March 5, 2021
What a lovely book. No wonder it has fans. And it spoke to me very personally.

The author fell ill after a mysterious infection on a trip to Europe, leaving her housebound with chronic illness. I, too, was left with chronic illness by a viral infection, and I deeply empathize with the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social implications of being chronically ill, including the isolation factor. More than that, I've had a lifelong love of bugs and little crawly, creepy creatures, with snails right up there among my favourites. I used to marvel at them and keep them as little pets.

So I thank The Reading Women https://www.readingwomenpodcast.com/the for putting "a book with someone with chronic illness" on their 2018 #readingwomenchallenge reading challenge list, and I thank Sheryl @AChVoice on Twitter for recommending this particular title. I'd forgotten it was on my TBR list, but I almost feel like it was written just for me. And so beautifully written, too!

And I just read that there is now an audiobook version: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books108 followers
September 12, 2016
The other day I was telling a sick friend about this book and I told her the author has an illness that sounds very much like ours and my friend said, 'no wonder she can hear the snails eating!' Because some people with this illness have chronic migraine symptoms including horrific sound sensitivity (which I sometimes call bionic hearing.)

As it turns out, the author does have the same illness as I do. The poorly named Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As Laura Hillenbrand, author of sea biscuit says, “This illness is to fatigue what a nuclear bomb is to a match. It's an absurd mischaracterization.”

Bailey writes beautifully about snails and about illness. Her descriptions of both are vivid and powerful, at times stunning, at others charming.

“As the snail’s world grew more familiar my own human world became less so; my species was so large, so rushed, and so confusing. I found myself preoccupied with the energy level of my visitors, and I started to observe them in the same detail with which I observed the snail. The random way my friends moved around the room astonished me; it was a if they didn’t know what to do with their energy. They were so careless with it. There were spontaneous gestures of their arms, the toss of a head, a sudden bend into a full body stretch as if it were nothing at all; or they might comb their fingers unnecessarily through their hair.”(50)

“With only 32 adult teeth, which had to last the rest of my life, I found myself experiencing tooth envy toward my gastropod companion. It seemed far more sensible to be a species that had evolved natural tooth replacement than to belong to one that had developed the dental profession." (50)

"I combed through scientific gastropod literature, eager to know more about my companion. I learned that snails re extremely sensitive to the ingestion of toxic substances from pollution and to changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature, moisture, wind, and vibration. I could relate to this, as my dysfunctional autonomic nervous system made me sensitive to these things as well.
Since I was unable to tolerate most drugs, my doctor prescribed treatments at such minute doses that a pharmacist said he felt as if he were dispensing medication to a mouse. My body’s temperature regulation no longer worked. One moment I was chilled, and the next too hot; this made life as a cold-blooded poikilotherm seem appealing. Before my illness I had slept like a log with no window shades drawn; now my room had to be pitch black at night. The sound of the telephone sent a tsunami-like shock wave coursing through me, so I kept the ringer turned off. I could listen only to music that was slow and continuous; anything with individually punctuated notes was too jarring. This restricted my entertainment to the calm of Gregorian chants at a barely audible level. I wondered if the snail could sense the vibrations through the air, and what the Benedictine monks would think of singing to a gastropod. (59-60)

I don't remember what drew me to get this book out of the library, but I'm so glad I did. Not only was it meaningful to read a book written by someone whose experiences of illness are similar to my own, but her writing about gastropods is so fantastic. Full of such a delight of details. Darwin's agony in trying to understand how land mollusks made their way to isolated islands. (It nearly drove him mad.) Gerald Durrell's observation of snails mating and the wild and fantastic existence of the 'love dart.'

I think some of my favorite parts were excerpts from many different naturalistic texts as well as hearing Bailey talk about literary addresses of snails.

"In most languages, the word for ‘snail’ refers to its spiral shape: in Native American language Wabanaki, the term is Wiwilimeq, for ‘spiraling water creature.’ Giovanni Francesco Angelita, an Italian scholar, wrote an essay in 1607 titled ‘On the Snail and That It Should Be the Example for Human Life.’ He praises the creature’s thoughtful pace and good morals and credits it with inspiring everything spiral, from the invention of drill bits to Europe’s most famous staircases.

"As a snail grows, its mantle secretes material at the shell opening, thus lengthening and widening its house by increments to keep up with its expanding body size. A snail’s shell is ‘part and parcel of the animal itself,’ points out the 19th century naturalist Seamless Wood, as quoted in British Conchology. And Edgar Allan Poe, in an odd leap from his usual macabre genre, comments in the preface to The Conchologist’s First Book in 1839 that ‘the relation of the animal and shell, with their dependence upon each other, is a radically important consideration in the examination of either.’

"My snail’s shell had five and a half turns or whorls around its center starting point. I could see the past growth lines, and its final shell opening was elegantly rounded off with a wide, creamy lip. Was this curved lip a way to strengthen the shell edge? Perhaps it was a sort of built-in gutter system. I would learn, soon enough, that this detail proved, irrevocably, my snail’s maturity.

"In Italo Calvino’s book Cosmicomics, in a story titled ‘The Spiral’, the molluscan narrator expounds on the art of shell making and reflects on what it is like to be part shell. But it was the gastropod narrator in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem ‘Giant Snail’ that is so enchanted with its own she’ll that it made me want my own:

'Ah, but I know my shell is beautiful, and high, and glazed, and shining. I know it well, although I have not seen it. Its curled white lip is of the finest enamel. Inside, it is as smooth as silk, and I, I fill it to perfection.'"

Who knew Poe wrote a book about snails? "The Conchologist's First Book." And Patricia Highsmith was a bit obsessed with them and wrote two stories in which snails play a rather large (wink, nudge) role. (You will find both Highsmith stories in Eleven http://bookdirtblog.blogspot.com/2013....

As it turns out I wrote my college thesis on Elizabeth Bishop's "The Giant Snail", so I knew about that one, but it was still magnificent to read excerpts in "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating."


Sometimes the way she makes connections between snail life and CFS/ME life feels a little forced, but all in all I thought this was a beautifully researched and written book with a lot to offer those who love natural sciences and those who love seeing connections between science and literature and for those who are sick or have loved ones who suffer from chronic illness.

Profile Image for Sue.
1,271 reviews548 followers
May 14, 2015
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 learned facts I never knew that I wanted to know about the life cycle of the snail. And also I've confirmed a fact I've learned for myself... that the human spirit will find the means if at all possible to sustain itself and that companionship can come in many forms.
Profile Image for Lisa.
96 reviews162 followers
October 18, 2016
If you need to slow down.
(Don't we all?)

If you want to marvel at the little wonders of the natural world.
(Slime and tenatacles that taste and love darts, no lie.)

If you cherish moments of peace strewn among the madness of a work day.
(Five minutes on the metro is enough.)

My own brain is chugging along too slowly to properly explain why you should read this tale of a bed-bound woman and her foray into the world of snails. All I know is that every time I picked up this book, it is exactly what I wanted to be reading. I wish I was reading it still.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,867 reviews5,031 followers
November 2, 2016
Smoothly written, mildly interesting meditation on invalidism.
Mysteriously and drastically ill, the author observes the behavior of a snail a friend has left in some flowers by her bedside.

Then, I must confess I got bored and did not finish the book, but I think that's just me. This isn't really my kind of book. The friend who gave it to me liked a lot and read it multiple times.
Profile Image for Hossein.
224 reviews95 followers
November 15, 2020
راهنمای کند زیستن در عصر "شتاب و بیگانگی"به کمک یک حلزون وحشی!
Profile Image for Rana Heshmati.
528 reviews773 followers
May 24, 2022
اول از همه بگم که کاوه فیض اللهی بی‌نهایت ممنونم. برای انتخاب‌هایی که می‌کنه. برای اینکه به چاپ کتاب اهمیت می‌ده. برای اینکه رفته سراغ موضوع‌هایی که کسی حواسش بهشون نیست. ترکیبی از علوم طبیعی و احوالات آدمی. و البته، توی مقدمه این کتاب نوشته بود که یه حلزون رو برده داده به یکی از دوستاش که نقاشه، تا ازش طرح بزنه، و طرح‌ها تو جای جای کتاب بود... و واقعا لذت می‌بردم که یکی برای یه کتاب ترجمه همچی زحمتی کشیده. محتوا بهش اضافه کرده�� و اینقدر قشنگ پیش رفته.
هم این کتاب، هم فلسفه پرندگان رو به شدت دوست داشتم.
کتاب درمورد زنی است که بخاطر بیماریش تقریبا فلج شده، نمی‌تونه تکون بخوره، و یکی از دوستان یه روز از تو جنگل یه حلزون براش میاره. و روزهاش رو با این می‌گذرونه که حلزون رو نگاه کنه. درموردش بیشتر یاد بگیره، بیشتر بخونه، و مشاهده‌اش کنه. حلزون یه جور همدم می‌شه براش.
یه جور آهستگی خاصی داشت این کتاب... و همین. دوستش داشتم. و جور تمرین ذهنیه خوندنش. توجه کردن. و آروم گرفتن. :)
Profile Image for Tara.
Author 23 books560 followers
May 25, 2015
"Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life."--Edward O. Wilson

This quote is an epigraph to one of the chapters. Oh, how I love the quote and this little gem of a book. I'm thrilled to see it has over 3k reviews and won two awards. It's beautifully packaged with soft pencil drawings reminiscent of the 1970s and telling quotes about snails and nature at the start of each small chapter.

The book is a beautiful piece of nature writing, also doubling as a memoir. It's a reminder of how fragile human life is and how much depends on our body's vulnerability and ability to to heal itself. The author, recovering from a debilitating virus, is taken with a snail that a friend drops off to keep her company. The bond between such unlikely companions is fascinating, and we grow to understand how complex each creature, no matter how tiny, must be in the natural world.

I recall having a pet snail when I was very little, dragged back from the beach. One of those black ocean snails. It didn't live long away from its sea environment. This snail survives and indeed thrives in a terrarium, and Bailey's intense observations and facts gleaned from her readings are rendered exquisitely. I will never look at a snail or woodland creature the same way again.

Nature is a miracle, really, as are we, and the fact that Bailey recovers to tell this story is the best part of this journey.
Profile Image for Almeta.
629 reviews68 followers
June 24, 2022
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 a biology instructor, and I’m real sure that I never intended to learn all that much about a land snail.

This little book makes you want to learn what next happens to The Snail and how it carries on its daily job of living. Its position as a hospice companion was essential, and touched my heart as easily as any furry animal may have.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,298 reviews450 followers
May 20, 2014
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 little creatures who know how to adapt and get the most out of their slow, quiet lives.
This book is not just for naturalists, but anyone who loves a book about living with limitations and embracing who you are. There is a wonderful You Tube video for the book that actually has audio of the sound of a snail eating. The slow progress of the snail across the scene is mesmerizing, and it is a wonderful destresser. You can actually feel yourself relaxing as you watch. Recommended for all.
Profile Image for Arghoon.
238 reviews39 followers
April 30, 2022
موضوع کتاب نوآورانه بود و تحقیقاتی که براش انجام شده بود ارزشمند بود ولی برای من جذابیت نداشت، یعنی ترجیح میدم موضوعات جانورشناسی رو تصویری و به صورت مستند ببینم تا اینکه فقط یسری فکت پشت سر هم بخونم، ضمن‌ اینکه این کتاب به‌ عنوان یه کتاب علمی هم معرفی نشده و از حوصله خیلی‌ها خارجه.
من ميخواستم بیشتر از اینکه درباره زندگی خود حلزون بخونم، درباره رابطه‌ی بین زن و حلزون بیشتر و عمیق‌تر بخونم ولی خیلی مختصر توی کتاب بهش پرداخته شده بود.
Author 0 books249 followers
September 7, 2021
One of the best books I read this year. The story is powerful and the writing is excellent. I will write a detailed review soon.
Profile Image for Narges.
63 reviews13 followers
August 15, 2021
داستان از اونجایی شروع شد که داداش کوچیکه دو عدد همستر به عنوان هدیه برام گرفت و اینجانب به اجبار خودم رو خوشحال نشون دادم، در صورتیکه ازشون متنفرررررر بودم 🤦‍♀️ کمی بعدتر به‌ بهانه‌ی یوز (یوز همون یوزپلنگ که اینجانب گربه‌ی فسقلیم رو اینگونه خطاب می‌کنم) بردمشون تو اتاق داداش بزرگه گذاشتمشون تا جلو چشمم نباشن ‌که رو اعصابم برن، هرچند از ته دل آرزو می‌کردم که یوز جفتشون رو قورت بده و من از بار این مسئولیت خلاص شم.
یه مدت گذشت تا اینکه این کتاب به دستم رسید و شروع کردم به خوندنش....اعتراف می‌کنم، خوندن این کتاب جزو حوصله سَربَرتَرین کتابایی بود که میتونست برام باشه... این کتاب شرح حال الیزابت تووا بایلی ست که در اثر یه ویروس وحشتناکی که از سفرش به یادگار میاره، دچار فلج اعصاب میشه و در یک محدوده‌ی زمانی مجبور میشه کل وقتش رو در تخت بگذرونه و در این دوران سخت، فرشته‌ی نجاتش میشه یک عدد حلزون فسقلی که از طرف دوستش هدیه میگیره (وجه مشترکمون هدیه گرفتن!)...در کل به خاطر عدم درک و همدلیم با نویسنده‌ی مریض، نتونستم خیلی درک کنم چرا یه حلزون میتونه برای یک شخص بیمار جذاب به نظر بیاد، به حدی که در موردش دست به تحقیق بزنه، مطالعه کنه، سرتاپای حلزونش رو کندوکاو کنه و در نهایت کتابی بنویسه این چنینی !... ولی خب از اونجایی که معتقدم بعضی از کتابا، مثل خورشت قرمه سبزی‌ان که هرچی بیشتر جا می‌افته خوشمزه‌تر میشه به این کتاب هم زمان دادم تا برام جا بیفته و با عمقش ارتباط برقرار کنم... ارتباطی که یک بیمار با طبیعت یک حیوان کوچیک برقرار کرد.... حلزون شده بود یه مرشد برای نویسنده که از زندگی خودش جدا و با زندگی یه گونه‌ی جدید آشنا بشه. گونه‌ای که شاید تفاوت بسیاری با نوع خودش داشت ولی با مشاهده و تفکر تونست وجه مشترکات زیادی پیدا کنه و کتاب روایت موازی بین خودش و زندگی این حیوون کوچولوست.... بعد از خوندن کتاب اولین حرکتی که زدم انتقال همسترا از اتاق داداش به اتاق خودم و زدن تو کار کشف و شهودشون بود... گاهی مثل الیزابت بهشون زل میزنم تا ببینم چی میتونم ازشون بفهمم یا چه جوری میتونم با درک دنیای یه موجود دیگه به یک نوعی از آرامش برسم. نوعی تمرینِ دیدن و تفکر..تازه از همین تمرینا، فهمیدم چقدر این موجودای کوچولو بامزه‌ان... چقدر در اوج خنگ بودن، باهوشن و چقدر میشه دوستشون داشت در حدی که هربار یوز رو که میبینم تهدیدش میکنم که اگر خطی روشون بندازه پدرش رو در میارم.... رسالت این کتاب برای من نوعی دوستی با شهود در دل طبیعت بود که برام ارزشمنده.... شما هم اگر علاقه‌مند به مطالعه آناتومی حلزون و وجه مشترک‌هاش با گونه‌ی خودمون بودین قطعا با این کتاب حال میکنین در غیر این صورت حوصلتون مثل من سر خواهد رفت و به مسائل جانبیش میپردازین !
Profile Image for S.Zohreh.
43 reviews9 followers
November 18, 2021
در قسمت یادداشت مترجم لینکی از سایت نویسنده قرار داده شده که صدای هویج خوردن یک حلزون وحشی با ۲۶۴۲ دندان و صدای هویج خوردن نویسنده (الیزابت تووا بایلی) با ۳۲ دندان رو میشه شنید.
به نظرم واقعا جالب و شگفت انگیز بود. در این کتاب حلزون، با جثه کوچک اما شگفت آورش راهنمای ما میشه برای خوب دیدن و درس گرفتن از طبیعت.
از کتاب: «تماشای اینکه موجود دیگری سرگرم زندگی اش باشد، به طریقی به منِ تماشاچی نیز انگیزه داد. اگر زندگی برای آن حلزون و آن حلزون برای من اهمیت داشت، معنایش این بود که چیزی در زندگی من مهم بود پس من هم ادامه دادم...»
من لینک سایت نویسنده رو قرار میدم اگر دوست داشتید میتونید صدایی که قرار داده شده رو بشنوید


۲۷ آبان ۱۴۰۰
Profile Image for Waverly Fitzgerald.
Author 20 books42 followers
September 14, 2013
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 out what to feed it (in the most dramatic moments of the book, the snail gluts on cornmeal and almost dies) and eventually moves it to a terrarium (a refurbished aquarium) where it settles in a lays eggs. The snail is mostly silent, although in the night, Bailey sometimes hears the tiny rasping sound of it eating. Bailey begins reading about snails and as she expands her knowledge of her quiet companion, her world begins to expand. By the end of the book she has recovered enough to move home and the snail and all 138 baby snails have been released in the woods from which the snail came.

But the true magic of this book is not that the snail healed the woman or that the woman recovered, but rather that loving attention to the smallest creature can open up a world of marvels. I felt refreshed after reading this book (which I read at an un-snail-like pace straight through in two hours) and also as if life had simultaneously slowed down and expanded.

Favorite Quote:
Inches from my bed and from each other stood the terrarium and a clock. While life in the terrarium flourished, time ticked away its seconds. But the relationship between time and the snail confused me. The snail would make its way through the terrarium while the hand of the clock barely moved—so I often thought the snail traveled faster than time. Then, absorbed in snail watching, I‘d find that time had flown by, unnoticed.

Profile Image for Fatemeh.
258 reviews59 followers
August 26, 2021
من این کتاب رو واقعا دوست داشتم. فکر نمی‌کردم از خوندن کتابی در باره حلزون‌ها لذت ببرم ولی ترکیب نگاه نویسنده به حلزون‌ها و زندگی شخصیش و تحقیقاتی که در باره‌ی حلزون‌ها کرده بود خیلی نتیجه‌ی جذابی داشت. ترجمه‌ی کتاب هم خیلی روون بود، طنز و تلحی بیان جملات کاملا ملموس بود و حتی تصویرگری‌های کتاب هم خوب بود.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,386 reviews581 followers
July 8, 2014
Uplifting observations make this a comfortable, peaceful read that also conveys some practical life lessons. Very easy, quick little read that I enjoyed.
Profile Image for Aylin.
69 reviews74 followers
November 21, 2020
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 ability to sit up. She is physically and mentally isolated by her condition. Enter a small land snail, brought to her in a pot of violets, gifted to her by a friend.

The land snail becomes her connection to the living world. They live at the same pace. Through quiet observation, she learns much about her molluscan friend. Her own observations are enhanced by bouquets of snail science and lore from naturalists, writers and poets. The book is fascinating.

There is a lot of gratitude-for-small-things in this book. There are things that are important to our spirits that are drowned out by things that shout at us in our fast paced lives.
Profile Image for Sahra.
54 reviews40 followers
April 16, 2021
نظرم در مورد این کتاب رو تو اکانت قبلیم که چند روز بیشتر دووم نیاورد و یهو از دسترسم خارج شده بود نوشته بودم و هر کاری کردم برام قابل نمایش نبود تا دیشب که یکی از دوستام برام فرستادش و تصمیم دارم اینجا هم با تغییراتی ثبتش کنم.
هر کدام از گونه‌های سلسله جانوران، ما را با تمام رازهای حیات وحش به چالش میکشد. این یکی از سر فصلها بود و فکر میکنم میتونه جوابی باشه بر چرایی انتخاب تجربه ی این کاب. وقتی بچه تر بودیم بواسطه ی کنجکاویمون نظاره گر حیات موجودات دیگه ای بودیم اما به مرور که بزرگتر و تو آشوب زندگی گم میشیم شاید حواسمون به خرده زندگی های دور و برمون و شگفتی هاش نباشه اما این کتاب شاید به گونه ای تماشای یکی از این خرده زندگی های کنارمون از دید کسی که خودش هم ناخواسته از آشوب زندگی دور شده لذتبخش باشه؛ مثلا با حوصله از زندگیشون سر در آوردن، شگفتی چگونگی هم نوا شدن با دیگریشون و ماجراهای دیگه. خوندن این کتاب هم مصادف شد با فرجه ی یکی از امتحانا لذا شبیه ماجراش خوانشش هم آهسته و پیوسته بود :) ترجمه‌ی کتاب به نظرم خوب و شیوا بود و برام جالب بود که تصویرگر حین تماشای حیات واقعی دو حلزون، نقاشی ها رو کشیده که به همراه شدن با متن،کمک میکرد.
Profile Image for Fakhte nasiri.
51 reviews7 followers
January 29, 2021
"مشاهده قلب نويسندگى است."

اليزابت تووا بايلى نه نويسنده بوده و نه دانشمند علوم طبيعى. بر اثر بيمارى اى شبيه به فلج به ناچار خونه نشين و افسرده ميشه و از اونجايى كه روحش پيوند عميقى با طبيعت داشته حضور يك حلزون توى خونه اش اون رو از دوران تاريك زندگيش به سلامت عبور ميده. كتاب تركيبى از ادبيات و تاريخ طبيعيه. و حاصل مشاهده بى وقفه و خستگى ناپذير نويسنده و مطالعات زيادش در مورد همنشين كوچكشه. حتى شيوه نگارش متن تا حدى منو به ياد جستار مى انداخت، به خاطر اون وجهش كه به صورت پراكنده هم از درونيات خودش صحبت مى كرد هم از مطالب خيلى متفاوتى راجع به حلزون. مثلا هر فصل كتاب با يك هايكو راجع به حلزون شروع ميشه يا حتى يك جلمه حكيمانه اى كه اون حكمت رو با صبورى از حلزون آموخته.
احساس مى كردم دارم يك فيلم مستند رو مطالعه مى كنم! و اين اولين تجربه من تو اين سبك بود. بى نهايت لذت بردم از خوندش ولى خيلى بيشتر از اطلاعات راجع به حلزون درس زندگى درون كتاب نهفته بود.
Profile Image for Sonya.
458 reviews295 followers
March 13, 2021

اين كتاب تنها اثر نويسنده اي آن است و ما با يك اثر ادبي مواجه نيستيم، آنچه بيش رو است شرح مشاهدات انساني در بستر بيماري است كه به تماشاي زندگي حلزوني كه مهمان اقامتگاه اش شده مي پردازد.
ساعتها مشاهده زندگي ارام و لزج اين شكم پا براي كسي كه كاري جز تماشاي سقف نداشت منجر به مطالعات جامع در مورد اين حشره شده و اين كتاب را سرشار از مطالب علمي كرده است.
اليزابت گذراندن دوران طاقت فرساي بيماري نادر خود را مديون اين موجود است كه موقع ترك تراريوم اش ١١٨ تخمش به حلزونهاي كوچك تبديل شده بود.
قسمتي از كتاب:
گرچه بيماري همواره مرا از مرگم آگاه نگه ميدارد، اما درك ميكنم كه مهمتر از همه اين نيست كه من زنده بمانم، حتي اين هم نيست كه گونه من باقي بماند، بلكه اين است كه خود حيات به تكامل ادامه دهد، با هجوم انقراض دسته جمعي عصر كنوني كدام گونه ها باقي خواه��د ماند؟ چه موجودات تازه اي تكامل خواهند يافت كه ما اكنون نميتوانيم تصور كنيم.
Profile Image for Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester.
115 reviews20 followers
November 4, 2010
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 a place where she could receive the care she needed, she felt herself more and more isolated from the outside world. One day a friend brought her a small pot of flowers and while walking through the woods spotted the perfect accessory to her gift- a small snail.

As the snail quietly came to life, and the hours of Elisabeth's isolation grew, a certain curiosity took over Elisabeth and she began to research the genealogy & life of her snail... The snail became the perfect companion to the hours Elisabeth spent in her own flowerpot, and she found an amazing similarity to her own life and that of the snail...

"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."

The story itself is sprinkled with snail lore, poetry and ancient & current studies. It is a fascinating glimpse into nature that is simply & beautifully written. It is a quiet story, filled with wonder. The story is a slim 170 pages from start to epilogue, with beautiful soft pencil drawings by Kathy Bray, and could be easily finished in one sitting. But to really enjoy it, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating should be slowly sipped like a delicious elixir...

Beautiful prose with a wonderful dash of nature writing that challenges us to slow down and observe the smaller world around us. In this wonderful observation of nature, Elisabeth Tova Bailey weaves her story with that of the common woodland snail, to teach us that life is worthwhile no matter how large, or small, your shell is... this would make a wonderful gift for any nature lover, or for someone recovering from an illness
Profile Image for Debbie "DJ".
352 reviews403 followers
May 3, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of a woman who becomes extremely ill after a trip overseas, and is "gifted" a snail. As she is confined to her bed she begins to pay attention to what her little snail is up to. What ensues is a fascinating look at a snails life. I will never look at a snail the same way again. Their little lives are designed to perfection, and they can teach us all to slow down a little, and smell the roses (or snails)!
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