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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating Paperback – 6 September 2016
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Winner of the John Burroughs Medal
Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award in Natural History Literature "Brilliant." --The New York Review of Books "How interesting can a snail be? Entirely captivating, as it turns out. [Bailey] is a marvelous writer, and the marriage of science and poetic mysticism that characterizes this small volume is magical." --Minneapolis Star Tribune "[A] gem." --Susan Stamberg, NPR's Morning Edition "Survival, resilience, and intellectual curiosity . . . Deeply moving. . . Extraordinary." --Literature and Medicine, the journal of the Institute for the Medical Humanities "An exquisite meditation on the restorative connection between nature and humans . . . As richly layered as the soil she lays down in the snail's terrarium: loamy, potent, and regenerative." --The Huffington Post "[A] small, quiet masterpiece, already destined to become a classic." --The Washington Times
- Publisher : Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (6 September 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 161620642X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1616206420
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 1.32 x 17.78 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 620,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I'd just had my first stroke and have had many more.
Reading Bailey's calm, absorbing observations of the snail; gleaning insight into her bedbound life, all felt soothingly familiar despite the differing reasons for our similar circumstances.
I felt as though I was spending time with a like-minded friend.
And grateful that I'd waited nine years, so that I could more fully relate to the nuances and beauty of her writing.
But you don't need it be ill or isolated to appreciate this book. Whatever your circumstances, it will enrich your life.
Top reviews from other countries
A remarkable experience, for the author and the reader. The ease and fluidity of the writing is gorgeous.
Things I loved:
The atmosphere of the authors life before, during, and recovering from her illness.
The research into snails and her snails life.
I’ve learnt so much from this book. I was a snail lover before, but after reading this book I’m now even more enthralled by their incredible lives and ancestry.
Things I don’t love:
People who don’t read this book. No seriously, you need to read this book. Even if you think it isn’t your type of thing, please give it a try.
I think this is a bit of a marmite book. If reading about a snail's sex life, for example, sounds like something you'd only do on pain of death, this is probably one to avoid. It's slow, gentle, informative, contemplative; Tova Bailey clearly did masses of research on snails, and there are masses of fascinating facts to be learned. For someone like me, who is interested in stuff like this, it was engrossing, if slightly disgusting at times... I'm no big fan of snails, and sometimes when talk of slime got too much I had to put the book down! I certainly have more respect for and interest in them now than I did when I started, though.
It's also a fascinating insight into chronic, crippling illness. For those who have suffered in similar ways, as I have, it's a comfort to know "it's not just me", and I think this book will give those who've never been chronically ill a little insight into what it is like being confined to a house, a room, or even a bed for long stretches of time.
Overall, I wouldn't call this a must-read, and it's definitely one to "look inside" before purchasing, but personally I enjoyed it. It was a book I dipped into over the course of several months. The writing style is gorgeous, the snippets from poetry and scientific books are apt, and the information is really interesting.
The book is part memoir and part the natural history of snails. There are interesting quotes about snails from literature and from natural history writers including Charles Darwin. I like the author's writing style which is low key and amusing and I also found the information about snails totally fascinating.
The book provides insights into how illness can affect humans and how the whole world shrinks to one room when you are confined to bed and dependent on others. Watching a snail move slowly about it small world somehow serves to put things in perspective. I know I shall never look at snails in quite the same way again after reading this book.
If you understand that this is written as an extended time period, condensed into one short(ish) book, where the gift of a wild snail "for something to look at" gives the recuperating patient a daily focus, and where we learn, a little at a time, snippets about snails, their life cycle, make up, habits etc. then you will have the correct personal insight as to how this book should be read.
Ther are no dramtic chases, murders, drama (well not until the snail falls ill and the reader wants to know if it survives), it is an amble through a persons house bound life, and a snails life.
I guarantee, the next time you go into your garden and shake out your slug/snail killer....you will have a whole new understanding and respect for what you are trying to kill, and a whole new perspective of how fortunate you are to be fit enough to be in the garden with the pellets at all.