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ISBN: 978-1-61620-642-0

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In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Tova Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her 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 place in the world.

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

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 can illuminate our own human existence, while providing an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.


"An exquisite meditation on the restorative connection between nature and humans … with sentences of stunning lyrical beauty." —Huffington Post 

"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…" —Star Tribune

"[Bailey] found comfort in an unlikely companion — a tiny snail, whose micro-doings are the source of a surprising philosophy." 
—Entertainment Weekly

Meet the author

Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s essays and short stories have been published in the Missouri ReviewNorthwest 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.