“The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating,” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
This is as much a book on snails as it is a meditation on being still, about paying attention. It teaches us to find wonder in the smallest and most unexpected places.
Part memoir of illness, part natural history, this slim volume begins with the gift of a pot of wild violets to the bedridden author. On it, a stowaway snail. From her horizontal vantage point, the author follows its every move. She turns to books and discovers the fullness of this impossibly small creature’s life. It has thousands of teeth, crazy sex. It roams at night. It has a portable home, to which it is confined, as she is confined to her bed. The snail, she confesses, may have saved her life, keeping her “spirit from evaporating” from the isolation of illness.
This is a perfect book for our own time of confinement. Our world has been moving at a snail’s pace. And that’s not a bad thing, at all.
MIRIAM KARMEL, Minneapolis
Quarantine Reads are recommendations of soothing books during fraught times. Send your suggestion to email@example.com.