The Secret World of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane
I don’t know. I am torn over The Secret World of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane. On the one hand, it is an encyclopedia of snail and slug information. Author David Gordon presents enough data that I don’t think I will ever need to read another snail or slug book again. To his credit, Gordon does so in mostly lay language punctuated by just enough wit and humor to keep things light and at least slightly nonscientific. It is really quite a good science read and a fantastic reference on its subjects.
On the other hand, I was disappointed in the lack of photographs that would better take me into the world of snails and slugs. For starters, the book begins with a listing of a few dozen slugs and snails, complete with Latin names. I know photographs add to the cost of a book, but since these are the very characters at hand, at least here would have been a good place to insert a few photos. The included Ink drawings were great as drawings, but don’t provide what is needed in a book that otherwise goes into such depth.
Things don’t get better as you get into the juicy details of slug and snail life. A close-up photographs would surely have complimented the prose. A book with this kind of detail really should have photographs.
Lack of photos aside, The Secret World of Slugs and Snails truly is encyclopedic. It is a great resource for those who do have an interest in the subjects and recognize them as the fascinating animals they are. From the lid-like “epiphragm” that closes off the entrance to a snail (made of calcium carbonate, I now know), all the way to its skirt and keel, there is more slug and snail information in these 176 pages than most people will ever need. In addition to its extensive coverage of the natural history of both slugs and snails, the book covers human history from slug farming by the Romans in 50 B.C.E. to making a slug a college mascot in the 1980s.
In short, The Secret World of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane by David Gordon contains a ton of information about slugs and snails that may make up for its visual shortcomings. It is not for everyone, but those who are interested will be rewarded.