4 out of 5 stars

The perfect review for this book on Silence would be:

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Sadly the modern world isn’t like that. We are bombarded by a cacophony of sounds and noise all day long. Our phones squeak for attention every few minutes, the noise from traffic on a road is constant over the course of a day, even most modern kitchen appliances make lots of unnecessary beeps even when you turn them on and off now days. Is there anywhere that could be described as silent on our planet? Even in a meadow on an almost still day, there will be the buzz of bees and the sound of grass moving.

Erling Kagge once spent almost two months walking solo in Antarctica with a broken radio and whilst I can imagine that this wasn’t silent given the way that the winds can howl across that landscape. The lack of radio meant that he was far away from the human generated din of the world. This time alone with the sounds of his internal voices and the natural world gave him time to think about how silence could benefit other people as well as him.

The result of that walk became the contents of this book. In here he explores various elements of silence for example, how it has almost disappeared from modern life in Western cultures and how the absence of noise looms large in our fears. But if you take the time to search it out, you can find silence in all sort of places; places where you enjoy the total absence of any of the noise of the modern world. As there is always some noise somewhere, Kagge argues that this is a skill that we need to relearn for our own calm and for meditative purposes. I really enjoyed this book as it gave me lots to think about with respect to the noise that I encounter every day. As a small aside, it is a beautifully produced book too with lots of pictures of a polar landscape.

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