Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing Winner of the John Burroughs Medal Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award in Natural History Literature
“Brilliant.” —The New York Review of Books 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.