The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

By Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Books for Better Life - Inspirational Memoir - 2011

National Outdoor Book Awards - Natural History Literature - 2010

William Saroyan International Prize for Writing - Non-fiction - 2012

Hardback, 208 pages £7.99
Published: 23rd September 2010
ISBN: 9781900322911
Format: 185mm x 134mm

Click here to see ebook versions available
PDF, 200 pages
Published: 28th October 2010
ISBN: 9780857840028
EPUB, 200 pages
Published: 28th October 2010
ISBN: 9780857840035
Published: 28th October 2010
ISBN: 9780857844842

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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 – a common 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. 

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Part I  The Violet-Pot Adventures

 1        Field Violets  

 2        Discovery  

 3        Explorations  

Part II  A Green Kingdom

 4       The Forest Floor  

 5       Life in a Microcosm  

 6       Time and Territory  

Part III  Juxtapositions

 7       Thousands of Teeth  

 8       Telescopic Tentacles  

 9       Marvellous Spirals  

10       Secret Recipes  

Part IV  The Cultural Life

11       Colonies of Hermits  

12       Midnight Leap  

13       A Snail’s Thoughts  

14       Deep Sleep  

Part V   Love and Mystery

15       Cryptic Life  

16       Affairs of a Snail  

17       Bereft  

18       Offspring  

Part VI  FAmiliar Territory

19       Release  

20       Winter Snail  

21       Spring Rain   

22       Night Stars  



Appendix: Terraria  

Selected Sources  

"This book is beautifully written and is an amazing story of how the human spirit can be so strong, even in the most adverse of circumstances. It is a wonderful illustration of the healing power of nature."

- Interaction - Action for M.E.

"Single-handedly, this easy-to-read, absorbing book shares with us one woman's suffering, the power of nature to soothe, and an awarness of the natural world that we may previously have overlooked."


"This book is an ideal present, an anecdotal influence, a reminder of what it is to be alive, and most of all, a warm-hearted story of a real person who found her path with the help of one of nature's smallest creations."

- The Middle Way, Journal for the Buddhist Society

"Bailey has involuntarily spent over 20 years coping with restricted movement. This intimate account of her snail-like life challenges readers to seek calm in their own lives."

- Library Journal (US)

"An astonishing book that portrays a woman who’s incapacitated through illness; she’s lying in bed, can’t move, and someone brings her a flower in a pot and on it is a snail. It’s about her relationship with that snail. The narrative content is limited, but what she does with it is incredible."

- Chris Packham The Guardian, Books that Made Me

“A charming, delicate meditation on the meaning of life.”

- Kirkus Review

"This slim, thoughtful book is a miniature masterpiece."

- The Independent

"With exquisite delicacy, Bailey doesn't mention the French enthusiasm for eating them with garlic butter. In fact, if the only time you think about snails is when you storm into the garden to wreak vengeance on them for ravaging your hostas, Bailey's beautifully written, brief memoir may change your views forever."

- Daily Mail

"Beautifull observed nature study of a creature most would dismiss as just a step from the slug - by an American author who has M.E. We're invited to draw the obvious parallels and she pulls it off, elegantly."

- ME Association Magazine

"If evidence was needed of the healing and uplifting power of nature, then Elisabeth Tova Bailey's passionate, heart warming and illuminating writing offers real proof."

- Devon Wildlife Trust Network News

"This charming little book tells us to slow down, take note and learn from all that's around us."

- New Books Magazine

"The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is an affirmation of the healing power of nature, revealing much of the world we miss in our busy daily lives, and how truly magical it is."

- Country Smallholding

"If evidence were needed of the healing and enriching power of the natural world, Elisabeth Bailey's passionate, heart-warming and illuminating little book is definitive proof."

- Resurgence

"Bailey's book is like a snail's shell, with an inexpectedly touching friendship lying at its centre. Spiralling outwards are meditations on time, purpose and purposelessness, evolution and human survival."

- The Oxonian Review

"This book offers a very different perspective (of life) and is beautifully written and meticulously researched."

- The Scientific Medical Network

Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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 the essay on which this book is based received a Notable Essay Listing in Best American Essays. She lives in Maine.

Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 208 pages
ISBN: 9781900322911
Format: 185mm x 134mm

Binding: Electronic book text, 200 pages
ISBN: 9780857840028
Format: PDF

Binding: Electronic book text, 200 pages
ISBN: 9780857840035
Format: EPUB

Binding: Electronic book text
ISBN: 9780857844842
Format: Kindle

BISAC Code:  BIO026000, LCO010000, NAT000000, SCI070000
Imprint: Green Books

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