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Shouting Won't Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other Americans--Can't Hear You [Kindle Edition]

Katherine Bouton
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $7.11 (44%)
Sold by: Macmillan


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Book Description

For twenty-two years, Katherine Bouton had a secret that grew harder to keep every day. An editor at The New York Times, at daily editorial meetings she couldn’t hear what her colleagues were saying. She had gone profoundly deaf in her left ear; her right was getting worse. As she once put it, she was “the kind of person who might have used an ear trumpet in the nineteenth century.”

Audiologists agree that we’re experiencing a national epidemic of hearing impairment. At present, 50 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss—17 percent of the population. And hearing loss is not exclusively a product of growing old. The usual onset is between the ages of nineteen and forty-four, and in many cases the cause is unknown.

Shouting Wont Help is a deftly written, deeply felt look at a widespread and misunderstood phenomenon. In the style of Jerome Groopman and Atul Gawande, and using her experience as a guide, Bouton examines the problem personally, psychologically, and physiologically. She speaks with doctors, audiologists, and neurobiologists, and with a variety of people afflicted with midlife hearing loss, braiding their stories with her own to illuminate the startling effects of the condition.

The result is a surprisingly engaging account of what it’s like to live with an invisible disability—and a robust prescription for our nation’s increasing problem with deafness.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* According to the latest statistics, 48 million Americans, or a whopping 17 percent of the population, have some kind of hearing loss. Bouton, a former senior editor at the New York Times, is one of those people. In her compelling memoir, she chronicles her own progressive loss over the decades, from a partial decline in her left ear at 30 to eventual complete loss. Hearing loss, she says, follows the traditional stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and, finally, a reluctant acceptance. And, she notes, it affects people of all ages, not just the elderly. Employing an engaging and even entertaining writing style, Bouton discusses the causes of hearing loss, the often horrendous—and ubiquitous—noise levels that surround us in the modern age, the ongoing stigma associated with hearing loss, the benefits and disadvantages of hearing aids and cochlear implants, the psychological impact of hearing loss, the lack of insurance coverage for hearing aids, and the debilitating toll that hearing loss can take in the workplace. In addition, she examines the condition’s “ugly stepsisters,” tinnitus and vertigo, before concluding on an encouraging note about ongoing research for a biological cure. Each chapter includes short profiles of people with hearing loss. An important and remarkable book. --June Sawyers


Shouting Won’t Help is a fascinating and frequently moving exploration of the hearing loss that strikes so many of us and those we love. The book is filled with enlightening personal observations, wise advice, and answers to frequently asked questions. If you’ve ever said ‘What?,’ gotten annoyed at those who do, had a miserable experience at an expensive but cacophonous restaurant, or wondered which is most dangerous to your health—sex, drugs, or rock and roll—this book is for you.” —Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of The Language Instinct

“The world is getting noisier, but fortunately we have Katherine Bouton, whose talent for listening remains undiminished by her hearing loss. Her book is both a moving memoir and an indispensable resource for everyone who cares about their ears.” —Deborah Solomon, author of Utopia Parkway

“Katherine Bouton’s book is not only entertaining—it is profoundly necessary. As the daughter of a hearing-impaired parent, I found that it offered me insight, inspired compassion, and made me feel less alone. I can’t wait to share it with my mom!” —Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter

“Katherine Bouton offers a wealth of information and insight about a frustrating and isolating condition. Her book inspires those who suffer from hearing loss and educates those who wish to understand its vicissitudes.” —Jerome Groopman, Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and staff writer for The New Yorker

“Katherine Bouton makes a brave personal contribution by underscoring the emotional harm deafness can cause. Open, frank, wise, up-to-date, and consistently informative, Shouting Won’t Help will be of immense use to anyone dealing with hearing loss.” —Peter D. Kramer, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University and author of Against Depression

Product Details

  • File Size: 634 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; Reprint edition (February 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008MWG7R8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,455 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Katherine Bouton has been a writer for the New Yorker, and her literate and informative writing skill come to serve us very well in this book which is part memoir. Clearly this book is going to attract those people with hearing loss or who have family with hearing loss. But as Bouton points out, this is a stunningly large number of people, one estimate is 17 per cent of people in the US. Yet the study of hearing loss and its treatment is deeply underfunded. More to the point, hearing loss is associated with extensive emotional and social loss that the hearing understand only marginally.

I did pick up this book because my mother is struggling with hearing loss. She had shared her frustration, anger and depression with her isolation. This book is able to greatly enlarge my understanding of her struggle. Bouton has met with professionals in every facet of this loss. She provides vignettes with people in specific fields who have lost their hearing. These people include nurses and opera singers. She has been able to speak with a range of people in her situation and attend most of the venues for therapy and support across the country. (My mom is planning to read the book.) Most striking for me is the sheer exhaustion of effort that is required for a person to cope with conversation even with good hearing aids.

As I mentioned, the writing in this memoir allows me to absorb quite a bit of knowledge but not in a cumbersome or tedious form. Bouton is witty and wry where the topic allows it. Her tone is not preachy or self absorbed. She is open and genuine with her self disclosure. Finally I have to say that I picked up the book for a specific purpose but enjoyed the reading for the pure pleasure of learning.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto for the hard of hearing February 25, 2013
By Moose
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
About eight years ago over the course of three months or so I lost all my hearing in one ear and about half in the the other. I realize how melodramatic this sounds, but it was a life-changing event. For me this book is a gratifying confirmation of just how bad it is. It's rather like swapping war stories with a friend who is also wicked hard of hearing. Much of what she has to say about the experience will be statements of the obvious to someone hard of hearing, but it's still good to hear it. For example, in her introduction (Kindle Locations 151-169) she gives tips to those who live with someone hard of hearing; here are a few:

* Look at them when you speak-- almost all hearing-impaired people read lips. Don't lean into their ear when you talk-- they need to see your lips.
* Speak in a normal voice and articulate as clearly as possible. Shouting won't help.
* If the hearing-impaired person says "What?" or "Sorry?" don't simply repeat what you've just said. Rephrase it.
* If they don't hear what you've said after you've repeated it two or three times, don't say, "Never mind, it doesn't matter." To the person who can't hear it, everything matters.
* Most hearing-impaired people will have a very hard time distinguishing speech over a noisy air conditioner, a humming fish tank, a fan, or anything that whirs or murmurs or rumbles. Don't try to talk to them when the TV is on, and turn off the background music when they come to visit.
* Don't talk to a hearing-impaired person unless you have their full attention. A hearing-impaired person can't cook and hear at the same time, no matter how collegial it may seem to join her in the kitchen.
* If you're part of a small group, speak one at a time.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearing Loss? Read for Yourself, A Loved One or A Friend February 23, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Katherine Bouton's "Shouting Won't Help" is must reading if you, a loved one or a friend suffers from hearing loss.

Key points:
First, hearing loss isn't rare: an estimated 36 to 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Second, the problem isn't exclusively confined to the aged. Many develop hearing loss early in life, and Bouton notes that significant adult onset occurs between the ages of 19 and 44. Third, treatment--although improving-- is still expensive, is typically not insured, and, while useful, can't yet approach the performance of the human ear. Fourth-- crucial-- acknowledging hearing loss is necessary to deal with it. Hearing loss is neither an intellectual nor a personal weakness-- it is a fairly common medical problem that can be treated (if not cured) through hearing aids, cochlear implants, other assistive therapies and the retrofitting of rooms or public spaces with 'looping'-- wiring devices that transmit sound to appropriately equipped hearing aids or cochlear implants.

This book will help the hearing impaired and their families and friends on several fronts: reducing the feelings of isolation and shame that accompany hearing loss; providing a comprehensive review of the causes of, treatments for and research concerning hearing loss; and providing guidance (see the preface) for speaking and living with a hearing impaired person. Bouton also provides an excellent, annotated bibliography of articles and books on hearing loss, and organizations that advocate for the hearing impaired. The book also contains case histories of smart and accomplished people who have coped with hearing loss. Their stories help to penetrate the stigma that often surrounds the subject of deafness.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the hearing impaired and their family
This is worth reading for the hearing impaired and their families altho the moderately impaired, as opposed to deaf and near deaf will not find the material on cochlear implants as... Read more
Published 9 days ago by A. K. Shamblin
4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful!!!
As a person with severe hearing loss, I found this book to be incredibly helpful and insightful. This should be required reading for anyone who deals with the hearing disabled.
Published 1 month ago by suzanne barrack
1.0 out of 5 stars Why bother?
I'll just cut to the chase.....the book is a total buzzkill, and loaded with factual errors. Obviously, nobody felt like having someone with some level of expertise in the subject... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Winnie
5.0 out of 5 stars good book on hearing loss
This book is very informative. I would recommend this to anyone with a nerve type hearing loss read this book as well as all family members or friends they live with. Read more
Published 1 month ago by KATHLLEN BLAKEY
4.0 out of 5 stars Most informative!!
Maybe just a little too much detail about herself, but a wonderfully informative book on all aspects involved with hearing loss.
Published 3 months ago by Betsy Tumey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Review of Problems facing those with Hearing loss as well as...
Bouton writes with a clear eye of how she dealt (or didn't) with her loss of hearing. She speaks of her denial, efforts to get others to understand and accept her hearing loss,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Leon A. Steinberg
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I lost much of my hearing due to sudden hearing loss, and was hoping that this book, written by a New York Times reporter, would be a good primer on hearing loss from someone who... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sonja Harken
5.0 out of 5 stars I found this to be very enriching and it has helped me gain new...
According to this book over 10 percent of the US population is hearing impaired and I completely agree with her. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Scotty
I am seriously hearing impaired, and have been using hearing aids since the mid-1980's. I have completely forgotten what "normal" hearing was like, if indeed I ever... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gerard Studley
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Thorough Look At Deafness
The book was a good thorough look at hearing problems from one woman's viewpoint. There was a good comparison of the various options for helping augment hearing.
Published 4 months ago by John Trimble
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More About the Author

Katherine Bouton is the author of "Shouting Won't Help: Why I - and 50 Million Other Americans -- Can't Hear You," (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. February 19, 2013).

An editor and writer at The New York Times for 22 years, happily married and the mother two, Katherine's life seemed just about perfect. But she had a secret that undermined every aspect of her life. At age 30, she suddenly went almost deaf in one ear. Progressive loss in that ear and in her "good" ear eventually left her functionally deaf. Even with a cochlear implant and a hearing aid, she could barely follow conversation.

In "Shouting Won't Help" she describes the onset of her hearing loss at age 30, the emotional toll it took over the years, the deep-seated stigma against hearing loss that caused her to keep it a secret for more than three decades. She profiles others with similar losses -- an opera singer, a pastry chef, a psychoanalyst. Their stories illuminate hers.
A former reporter, she discusses the causes and treatments for hearing loss. She talks to psychotherapists about the psychological reaction to sudden hearing loss. She reports on the technology and high cost of hearing aids, which are rarely covered by health insurance. She writes about cochlear implants, a miracle cure that nevertheless falls short of restoring hearing to what it had been.
She writes about how employers unwittingly sabotage employees with hearing loss, about the obstacles those with hearing loss face every day, and how those with hearing loss can be the cause of some of their most unhappy moments.
In the final chapter she reports on research into gene therapy and stem cell therapy as a potential cure for hearing loss.
Almost 50 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss. This book is for them. But it is also for those who live with someone with hearing loss, or work with them, who teach or minister to them, for health care professionals who may not recognize hearing loss in their patients, for the children of elderly parents who are losing their hearing.
We all know someone with hearing loss. This book will help you to understand them.

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