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Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence Paperback – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061353361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061353369
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Against the cacophony that pervades our lives, novelist LeClaire (The Lavender Hour) offers a persuasive antidote: silence. Sixteen years ago, LeClaire decided to devote a 24-hour period to not speaking, and it became a twice-a-month practice. LeClaire draws deeply on this experience in calling for a wholesale rethinking of noise and a greater appreciation for quietude and nature. Especially revealing are scenes in which the author or her friends, husband and other family struggle with her practice. It is within this conflict that LeClaire finds the lessons that she wishes to pass on to her readers. With Ann Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea as a model, LeClaire, too, focuses especially on women, encouraging them to carve out a silent space in a demanding world. Both book and the practice seem at once self-indulgent and eminently sensible. LeClaire's prose is colloquial, friendly and familiar, and the book is as much memoir as it is inspiration. Nineteen photos by LeClaire's son illustrate each chapter opening. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sixteen years ago, novelist LeClaire decided to spend a day in silence. That 24 hours changed her life. She found in silence something more than not-speaking. Silence was, and is, a means to greater self-understanding and, paradoxically, to greater connection with nature and with others. Since that day, she has devoted two days a month to silence. In this eloquent and moving book, she describes how others responded to her apparent withdrawal—sometimes with anger, sometimes with fear, sometimes with envy, often with loving support. She relates how her practice has changed her, especially in her relationship to age and death, that final silence. Although technically a memoir, this book moves beyond that genre into spirituality and philosophy. LeClaire’s reputation as a novelist may draw readers to this lovely book, which should also have crossover appeal to spiritual seekers of any religion and no religion. --Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Anne LeClaire's book is truly an inspiration.
Jamie
I will read this book again at least twice a year to focus on myself and my needs.
Claire Dunleavy
It was just getting too long and drawn out and making me feel a bit listless.
Maria A. Barnowl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Malini L. Goculdas on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was intrigued by this book initially because the author decided to observe a silent day twice a month. She has faithfully done this now for seventeen years, occasionally observing longer time periods, even an entire week, in complete silence. The book documents her observations and experiences. Silence has changed her life.

At first, it is difficult for Anne's family and friends to accept that she will not take calls or talk at all on certain days. Then they begin to realize that certain things are not that important, they can wait a day. Anne begins to notice that she is getting calmer and more peaceful. The buzz of modern society begins to feel like an onslaught - the volume in a movie theatre is too much, for example. She begins to turn more and more towards nature, developing deeper appreciation of natural rhythms.

Along the way, she finds inpiration and wisdom among the world's spiritual traditions. After all, solitude and contemplation have been a prerequisite to enlightenment for many religious leaders. I found this aspect of the book a bit trite, because she draws on the usual suspects one would find on a Barnes and Noble religion or philosophy shelf.

In the end, however, I admit to some annoyance. Anne is a writer, her children are grown and away at college, her husband the naturalist is out of the house much of the time. She spends most of her day in solitude anyway. She comes from a certain background - white middle class New Englander - and lives out on Cape Cod year round; there is an inherent insularity already. What she has accomplished is not the big stretch it would be for someone in different circumstances. She is told as much by an Irani author that she meets at a writer's retreat.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Linda H. on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reading Anne LeClaire's latest work, Listening Below The Noise, is a lot like peeking into someone's journal. But instead of having to sneak the read, LeClaire openly invites us to become privy to some of her most intimate thoughts and experiences as she recounts her journey over the past 16 years on the practice of silence. Through LeClaire's writing, the reader is introduced to a simpler, more honest way of noticing, approaching, and interacting with the world around us, the people in our relationships, and our ownselves. This is not a self-help book or how-to book, but rather a friend's perspective on a practice that has enhanced her life so much that she wants to share it with us.

This is a touching memoir of sorts, beautifully written, illustrated with lovely photographs that seem to capture the very essence of the written words. I found the book so provoking, I read it twice and it has quickly become a favorite gift for friends. LeClaire's insights and experiences offer poignant lessons for us all and I would consider it a must read for anyone searching for a path to honesty and simplicity in his or her own life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Levine on July 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Listenin Below The Noise changed my personal view of the world and my place in it. It is beautifully, poetically written and the wisdom in the book speaks to me every day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Grant Cohen on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful book reminding us that we all need to take some quiet time alone to reconnect with nature, our heart, spirit and being. Anne LeClaire's memoir of silence is a peek into her life and how she manages to create quiet time for herself. Her conversational way of writing made me feel like she was speaking directly to me. Thank you Anne for sharing how silence has made a difference in your life.

By nature I am a quiet person and easily overwhelmed by a lot of noise. I would love to devote a whole day to silence but until I can, I have started to drive in silence-no more radio-and I find I am much more relaxed by the time I get to where I'm going. This is a book I will read again and again. It's also going to be a book I will give as a gift. If all the noises of life have you exhausted or overwhelmed, this book will bring you back to center and give you the tools and ideas you can use to bring some peace into your life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jamie on July 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Listening Below the Noise" was a wake up call and truly changed my life and the way I approach my work. While I haven't gone for an entire day without talking yet, I now spend two hours alone in my bedroom every morning writing. Sometimes I work on my book, but sometimes I just journal and daydream. Still, I have found that this sets the tone for my day and when I do re-enter the world, I am so much more grounded and I have so much more to give. Anne LeClaire's book is truly an inspiration. It's beautifully written, intelligent, at times funny and always personable. I love the texture of the pages, the photographs. What a great gift too. I highly recommend this modern masterpiece--make it your own Secret Garden!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NAAbbott on March 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Very wise, very doable. Everyone should read this book and then disconnect
themselves from their harried lives.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Num1Fan on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I love this book...the easy read and the compelling (and somewhat subtle) messaging. I'm not surprised to see some people claim they wouldn't 'GET' this book. I'd recommend reading it multiple times - the first read to get you below the noise, so for the second read you can actually hear and connect with the messaging clearly and without judgement.

Word by word, I felt as if the author extended her hand and welcomed me, personally, into her private sanctuary. She took me on a magical seaside walk - step by step, just us two - encouraging me to comb through the sands of my life for wisdom only found in silence & stillness of the mind. This book changed my life, and I know it could change yours - so read it. Imagine what our world would be like if we were all silent for just one day and could experience ourselves & each other in the wonderous being we are far below the noise. Bravo, Anne!
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