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

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Length: 289 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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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: 893 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; Reprint edition (February 19, 2013)
  • Publication Date: February 19, 2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008MWG7R8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,179 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Katherine Bouton is the author of "Living Better With Hearing Loss: A Guide to Health, Happiness, Love, Sex, Work, Friends... and Hearing Aids." Workman June 2015. Available as an ebook or print on demand.

She is also 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. 2013; Picador paperback, 2014, also available as an ebook).

She is a frequent speaker at hearing loss conventions as well as academic and issue-oriented symposiums. For a full schedule of speaking engagements, see her homepage:

She also writes about hearing loss issues for AARP:
Her blogs include "What I Hear" ( and "Hear Better With Hearing Loss" (

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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88 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Moose on February 25, 2013
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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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous Reader on 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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