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Download In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise Audiobook, by George Prochnik Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (192 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: George Prochnik Narrator: Don Hagen Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781596595712
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More than money, power, and even happiness, silence has become the most precious-and dwindling-commodity of our modern world.

Between iPods, music-blasting restaurants, earsplitting sports stadiums, and endless air and road traffic, the place for quiet in our lives grows smaller by the day. In Pursuit of Silence gives context to our increasingly desperate sense that noise pollution is, in a very real way, an environmental catastrophe. Listening to doctors, neuroscientists, acoustical engineers, monks, activists, educators, marketers, and aggrieved citizens, George Prochnik examines why we began to be so loud as a society, and what it is that gets lost when we can no longer find quiet. He shows us the benefits of decluttering our sonic world.

As Prochnik travels across the United States and overseas, we meet a rich host of characters: an idealistic architect who is pioneering a new kind of silent architecture in collaboration with the Deaf community at Gallaudet University; a special operations soldier in Afghanistan (and former guitarist with Nirvana) who places silence at the heart of survival in war; a sound designer for shopping malls who ensures that the stores we visit never stop their auditory seductions; and a group of commuters who successfully revolted against piped-in music in Grand Central Station.

A brilliant, far-reaching exploration of the frontiers of noise and silence, and the growing war between them, In Pursuit of Silence is an important book that will appeal to fans of Michael Pollan and Daniel Gilbert.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Elegant and eloquent.”

    New York Times

  • “Smart…Silence is good for falling asleep, but Prochnik's attentive take on noise keeps us wide awake.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An adventure of profound listening.”

    New Yorker

  • “Elegant and understated, this thoughtful look at rarely considered aspects of everyday life reveals an often unrecognized cost of modern living.”

    Booklist

  • “[A] genial and informative study of the noisiness of modern life.”

    New Republic

  • “Fascinating.”

    Salon

  • “A global quest to find those who still value silence.”

    NPR

  • “Sometimes alarming and often charming, it sings the praises of quiet and reports the uncertain progress in the war against noise.”

    Dallas Morning News

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kristin | 2/8/2014

    " Tried so hard to read this--I never give up on books, but it was torture to get half way through and I still felt like the book was taking far too long getting "there" (though I'm not sure what "there" actually is because I gave up on the journey). Part of this is simply that the most relevant topics when it comes to *noise* are apparently the least interesting topics to me (LOUD bass-thumping cars, etc.); if the chapters had been scaled down a bit (which, I think, could have been possible), then I may have had a better experience trying to get through the book to its "point." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emma | 2/3/2014

    " I originally shelved this book under spirituality but really it was more like reading a pbs documentary about silence and noise. The author investigated what we consider noise, what we do about it (like covering it with more noise through headphones) and the socio-cultural associations with both silence and noise. I recommend this book, it's engagingly written and well researched. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin Eagan | 2/2/2014

    " This books starts with an interesting premise, but it does not go into the spiritual and social implications of noise in our modern world in as much depth as I had hoped. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marianna | 1/15/2014

    " Lots of interesting technical details about noise and why it exists. I was hoping for more of a focus on silence and where the author found it. But I suppose his underlying premise is that silence is extremely difficult to find. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/8/2014

    " This is a really enjoyable book. There wasn't as much waxing poetic on silence as I expected - I actually learned a lot about soundscaping, acoustics, and boom cars. The chapters about the monastery and the pocket parks - the most personal of the book - have stuck with me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelledenisenorton | 1/7/2014

    " Excellent read; ranged further than I expected into an exploration of not only silence but noise, communication, philosophy, humanity + some unique people and hobbies. Definitely worth a read and some time spent contemplating the author's journey. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Seth | 12/26/2013

    " There are lots of great facts in this book (wish I'd taken notes), but it's a pretty dry read which I had trouble finishing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bobby | 12/17/2013

    " Not quite what I'd expected and definitely not what I'd hoped for. Good chapters, but overall not interesting enough. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 11/28/2013

    " I liked this book because the author tried to keep an open mind about the various people's viewpoints on sound. The chapter about deaf people's interactions with their surroundings and landscapes was pretty interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 7/10/2013

    " Surprisingly novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 j.c. | 5/30/2013

    " Tread carefully. Reading this book will make it impossible not to hear the noise in the everyday world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hunter Russell | 5/18/2013

    " Been in pursuit of this ever since moving to NYC "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meowbie | 5/16/2013

    " Great book, really enjoyed it. I think I was more affected though by the author's Radio National (ABC) interview, which really gave me a flavour of his spiritual relationship to silence. His distinction between quiet and silence fascinated me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martin Cerjan | 4/16/2013

    " This book is well-written and well organized. I read books about silence, but I'm not sure how many other people do! I think this would be a good introduction to people unfamiliar with the topic. The different parts of the book each have their own charm. Thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keith Slade | 7/12/2012

    " Fascinating study of the role of silence in our lives and the lack of it nowadays. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Monica | 4/18/2012

    " Too technical, lacks spiritual dimension and implication. Writing style comes across as choppy, cold, distant. One of the few books I have decided not to complete. It's a chore to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Mullens | 12/17/2011

    " It was alright with some good info about silence and our desire to avoid it. Most of the material was about sound and/or noise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meowbie | 3/7/2011

    " Great book, really enjoyed it. I think I was more affected though by the author's Radio National (ABC) interview, which really gave me a flavour of his spiritual relationship to silence. His distinction between quiet and silence fascinated me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 j.c. | 8/21/2010

    " Tread carefully. Reading this book will make it impossible not to hear the noise in the everyday world. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Judithproller | 7/1/2010

    " Interesting sociological study of the effect of noise in our landscape. Really good first 1/3 and then gets repetitive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martin | 5/20/2010

    " This book is well-written and well organized. I read books about silence, but I'm not sure how many other people do! I think this would be a good introduction to people unfamiliar with the topic. The different parts of the book each have their own charm. Thought provoking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 5/10/2010

    " It was alright with some good info about silence and our desire to avoid it. Most of the material was about sound and/or noise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeffrey | 4/15/2010

    " This book is so important! I recommend it to anyone concerned with...Hell I recommend it to everyone! Noise pollution is a complex and devastating problem, I don't believe that I am understating this fact. This book is essential. "

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About the Author

George Prochnick is the author of Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology, a New York Times Editor’s Choice pick and winner of a 2007 Gradiva Award. He has written for the New York TimesBoston GlobePlayboy, and Cabinet magazine, among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

About the Narrator

Don Hagen has been behind the microphone since fifth grade. He is a nine-time winner of the Peer Award for narration/voice-over and twice winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award. He has also been heard in radio and television commercials and documentaries. In addition to his freelance voice work, he is a member of the audiobook narration team at the Library of Congress.