Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NonFiction Annotation

Author: Bailey, Elisabeth Tova

Title: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Genre: Autobiographies and Memoirs; Family and Relationships; Life Stories; Nature                         Writing

Publication Date: August 24, 2010

Number of Pages: 190 pages

Geographical Setting: New England

Time Period: early 2000's

Plot Summary: While vacationing in the Alps, Elisabeth contracted a rare virus affecting her nervous system. As her autonomic nervous system ceased to function, her condidtion quickly worsened, leaving her bedridden and in isolation for a year. Used to being an active hiker and gardener on her little colorful, life-filled farm in Maine, she was forced to take a room closer to a caregiver. Here, she laid, flat on her back, unable even to sit up, staring at a white ceiling and walls. Her bed was situated so that she was unable to see out of the only window in the room.

Hoping to bring her cheer Elisabeth, a friend brought her a pot of violets from the woods on her farm. On a whim, she picked up a wood snail that she also found in the woods, and nestled it under the violet's leaves. Elisabeth was aghast that her friend would bring her something that needed needed to be cared for when she couldn't even take care of her own needs.

What follows is the story of a year in her recovery where Elisabeth's curiousity and keen mind are reawakened. She learns about this particular species of wood snail: what it eats; the kind of habitat it needs; about its sex life, and discovered its routine, likes and dislikes, and habits. Watching the snail overcome obstacles and situations helped Elisabeth. She came to really care about it. The snail cared about life, which helped her to begin to care about her own life again. Toward the end of the year, the conditions in the terrarium were such that the snail laid hundreds of eggs. Elisabeth was able to watch them hatch and grow. She may be the first person to have done so!

Elisabeth continued to research her snail as she recovered and added a lot of biological information back into her story. The story is uplifting even though Elisabeth is very ill and no one knows how to help her. Her writing style is conversational and very descriptive, but never overly academic. I'm sure that many people wonder why they would ever want to read a book like this, but I urge you to give it a try. You won't be sorry.

Click on this for an even more gowing review:

Link to the author's website where you can watch the snail and even hear it eating:

Subject Headings: Library Subjects.
                                 Snails as pets: Anecdotes.
                                 Gastropoda: Physiology.
                                 Gastropoda: Anatomy.
                                 Baily, Elisabeth Tova: Health.
                                 Chronically ill: Biography.
                                 General Subjects.
                                 Academic Subjects.

                                 BISAC Subjects

                                 NATURE/ Animals/ General

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: Pace: Leisurely
                                                                              Tone: Reflective
                                                                              Writing Style: Engaging

Similar Authors and Works: These books all share the genres of Life stories and Nature Writing and the appeal terms of Reflective and Engaging. These books tell the story of individuals who have the unique ability to entertain while enlightening and educating us about the world around us.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjoberg

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors: All of these books are memoirs of three very different women who find solace and a new sense of themselves by undertaking solitary journeys in nature.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Product Details

Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

A Year  by the Sea by Joan Anderson

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: All of these stories center around relationships with animals. They have emotional depth which captivates the reader and in the end are tales of survival.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by [Baume, Sara]

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Life of Pi by [Martel, Yann]

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Resources used:

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction by Neal Wyatt

Baker & Taylor





  1. Suzanne, I really like your annotation. I am not sure I would have ever picked up this book to read, but now I want to read it. I wonder if Elisabeth's friend realized what she was doing when she put the snail in the plant and the impact that learning about the snail would make on Elisabeth's life.

  2. Hi Anne, I think she might have thought it might bring her some companionship, but I don't think anyone could have anticipated how much the experience meant to her recovery.

  3. The title of this book strikes my interest immediately because it is unusual.

  4. Fantastic annotation! You did a great job with the summary and immediately hooked my attention. Full points!