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a slow Passion

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This year's books about snails

2013 has been a momentous year for me as the publication of Molluscs and Me was a long time coming. Gestation was slow and the birth painful but, for me, it was as worth the wait as any new baby:

ImageThe ebook and paperback are both selling well and feedback has been very good.

A Slow Passion is the delightful book by Ruth Brooks who won the amateur scientist of the year competition on Radio 4 with her work on snail homing instinct. I would highly recommend this as a good read for anyone interested in the behaviour of very small animals. Snails are proving to be a popular creature for university students to study at both under and post-graduate level. As Ruth showed us, their behaviour is fascinating and they've also been adopted by forward looking primary schools where science is an integral part of the curriculum rather than something the children 'do' once a year in science week.

Then I found Elisabeth Tova Bailey's 'The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating' - such an engrossing study of snail behaviour carried out from the confines of a sick bed, which has some similarities with Ruth's book in its detailed observations but of a single captive mollusc rather than a wild population.

Altogether it's been a very good year for snail books.

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A Slow Passion

Ruth Brooks’ story was a gift from the BBC. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/sywtbas/2010/ruth/) At Slow Summer Snail Farm, when I was trying to bring snails to the attention of the public as an animal that could promote scientific enquiry in children, Ruth's story came along. She loves her garden and was fascinated by the behaviour of her garden snails. She noticed that they chose special resting places and eating places, sometimes quite a distance apart. Ruth spent years trying to get rid of snails using all the usual methods but eventually decided that enforced repatriation was a better solution. After collecting them up and taking them to a nice new home she was puzzled to see them quickly re-appear. When Radio 4 advertised their competition for Amateur Scientist of the Year Ruth took the chance to follow her curiosity and find out more under the guidance of a ‘real’ scientist. I told everyone I met about her experiments into the snail’s homing instinct and urged them to try it out. Ruth had groups of children everywhere painting the shells of their garden snails with nail polish and swapping with their neighbours to see what happened. Now the book is out and I had to read it. Ruth has collected some really fascinating information about snails and her enthusiasm shines through in her writing. If you're interested in wildlife and the mysteries of the garden then this book is for you.

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