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

4.4 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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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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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 (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A friend phoned me after reading this book in a day, longing to share it with someone. Well-written and beautifully illustrated, it's a pleasure to read. While the points she makes are salient, I couldn't help feeling she was a bit self-indulgent and lucky to have both a lifestyle and resources to make a commitment of a weekly day of silence. It's natural but artificial, relaxing but challenging, freeing yet self-imposed. Still, the author is inspiring in her quest for silence, solitude and self-discovery.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very readable account of one woman's foray into occasional silence.
This is a great book for book clubs as it seems to generate a lot of reactions.
LeClaire is a good writer who explores what it means to actually listen to the world. So, it's not so much about being quiet as what happens when one tunes in.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ann LeCaire wrote as though she was writing in her dairy or journal. At times it's an interesting read; at others it's rather slow and makes you feel like it's time for a short nap. It also gets repetitive, and it often makes you wonder "Why?"

Keeping silence on days such as Christmas and birthdays did not seem to make any sense - and felt more like creating distance from friends and family than being there to share celebrations with them. And refusing to answer anything, even in writing (despite the fact that she wrote on silent days) also seemed distant and antisocial.

I usually read a book through from beginning to end without taking a break for a while mid-way. For this one, I had to stop about half way through and read a few books before coming back to finish this one. It was just getting too long and drawn out and making me feel a bit listless. In the second half, her story perked up a bit, and her story became more interesting.

This was a bookclub book, and the title made it sound intriguing. By the time I finished it, however, it felt more like I'd read a book by someone tied into a path with no flexibility or enjoyment, almost as if she was trapped with no way out.

I have a lot of quiet time in my life, and quite moments and interacting moments seem part of a normal way of being. It seems rather odd and uncomfortable to make something so pronounced out of being quiet and to structure it so strictly. It's always good to take time for yourself and make time for yourself. But relax. Go with the flow. Breath. Enjoy life, and don't tie yourself in knots over schedules and calendars and can't do's and must do's.
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