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

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3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  306 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
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 nineteen ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Picador (first published January 1st 2013)
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Amy
Mar 21, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am hard of hearing. I have been wearing hearing aids since I was 12 so for most of my life I have had an invisible disability. I have constant noise going on in my head and when the author describes to how loud silence can be, she hit the nail on the head of descriptions.
I am younger than the author and have lived with this for most of my life so I can see how some may think she is over fussy about her hearing loss because she used to have good hearing and she just wants it back that way. Whi
...more
Patricia
Apr 23, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To quote the New Yorker summary: "Bouton's personal narrative, which offers essential insight into the subtle but crippling ways that this 'hidden disability, one often borne in secret', can upend relationships and threaten professional goals".

As the daughter of a mother with age-onset hearing issues, watching her struggle adapting to hearing aids that often need adjustments, tinnitus, dizziness and the other challenges accompanying hearing loss, as well as the grandmother of a two-year-old born
...more
Holly
Feb 09, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who suspects they may be losing some hearing - or know someone who has - should read this. Katherine Bouton denied her hearing loss for years and years - I, on the other hand, did something about it as soon as it happened. She goes into great detail about hearing aids and cochlear implants (though cautions neither of these restores one to "normal" hearing). Research is ongoing but under-funded. Deafness, no matter to what degree, is an invisible disability. She confirms that the ability t ...more
Michelle
Mar 25, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really should be required reading for anyone who is or has a loved one who is hard of hearing. Bouton wonderfully describes the journey from sound to silence and the challenges - and frustrations - along the way. It gives voice to those people who are often incorrectly perceived as snobbish or rude when in reality, they just have no idea what you've said or what's going on. While being hard of hearing shares a lot of the same problems faced by deaf people, this invisible disability can also ...more
Annmarie
May 23, 2013 Annmarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Katherine Bouton’s book is both a thoroughly researched survey of the field of midlife hearing loss as well as a moving personal exploration of her own condition.
I felt her pain reading of her decision to cut short her successful career as an editor at the New York Times when the hearing impairment got the better of it all. I had taken early retirement before my hereditary sensorineural loss became apparent.

As Bouton tells it, the process of “acceptance” and adjustment to serious midlife heari
...more
Jonah
Apr 16, 2013 Jonah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
6 Things I Liked About this Book

1. It offers an imperative: reduce noise!

2. The author puts herself in the book while making the book about more than herself.

3. The author acknowledges that much of her issues with hearing loss were related to what she calls her "vanity"; her intense desire to hide her hearing loss.

4. It's about something that affects a lot of people, and contains a lot of profiles of people with hearing loss.

5. It talks about a cochlear implant that was only slightly successful,
...more
Jaime
Mar 14, 2013 Jaime rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I suppose this is a perfectly good, informative book that just isn't what I wanted it to be. When I heard about the book, I imagined--and hoped--that it would be the author's personal narrative of her life with severe hearing loss, with background information about hearing loss interspersed. Instead, Shouting Won't Help is a largely factual account of the causes and preventions of hearing loss, along with possible solutions, etc. While the author gets very specific about her own hearing loss--wh ...more
Lynn
Apr 08, 2013 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and a half stars, really. A highly informative work by an author who walks the walk, as they say. Severely hearing impaired herself, Katherine Bouton tells it like it is in, as she puts it, "the land of the nearly deaf". I found reading the personal-story parts to be both validating and painful. Anyone who does not deal with this issue personally will just never get it, and they should be thanking the heavens every day for that. These are just a few of the things she writes about that I know f ...more
Cheri
Mar 17, 2013 Cheri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lived this experience (the losing of much of the hearing in one ear, along with the tinnitus & a touch of vertigo) for a short time a few years back for apparently no better cause than "shifting of the cerebral arteries" - yes, that's apparently a thing. Mega-steroids provided the fix, but I'm haunted by what I nearly lost. Bouton reacted in much the same way I did - and since most of her hearing is permanently gone, she lives with it, in not always the most well-adjusted way. Do go read t ...more
Julia
Sep 25, 2014 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was born deaf in one ear, and I found this book fascinating, relatable, and frustrating. I appreciated and learned a lot from Bouton's look into the epidemiology and etiologies of hearing loss - and our serious lack of understanding thereof - and developments in assistive technology.

Throughout the book, Bouton describes everyday challenges for those with hearing loss, often with a palpable sense of anger. I recognized similar situations and coping mechanisms from my own life (adventures in li
...more
Ann
Mar 17, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of information that seems new. Just a great read
Tom
I found this to be an excellent book relevant to anyone with acquired hearing loss. The author is a former editor of the NY Times who has suffered profound hearing loss partially mitigated by a cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other. Like any well written, in-depth report, she combines some of her own and other's stories with good research on the causes, consequences and various approaches to dealing with acquired hearing loss.

I was particularly struck by her description of
...more
Caitlin
More a 3.5.

I had mixed feelings about this book. Sometimes I didn't like it, and wanted to throw it across the room. Other times, I felt complacent, and enjoyed the depth of Bouton's research and related to her own mixed feelings about her hearing loss.

What I didn't like were some of the generalizations she made about d/Deaf people, including one memorable part when she seemed to imply that people with progressive hearing loss were more miserable than those who had been deaf their entire life. S
...more
Davy
May 31, 2013 Davy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Listen: I'm sorry as hell for what happened Ms. Bouton. I've lived with hearing loss my entire life -- since the tubes came out of my ears when I was a baby -- so I know how frustrating it can be (particularly so because it's an "invisible" disability, as she says). It's hard for people to relate to the routine challenges I face every day, and part of what I was hoping to find in this book was understanding, support, and a sense of community. I got ... a little of that, yes. But most of these pa ...more
Patty
This book was recommended to a former coworker by her friend who is deaf and that person suggested that I read it since she found it helpful. I have to say that the information on pages 10 and 11 should be read by anyone who might be dealing with people with hearing loss. Since there are more than 50 million Americans who are hard of hearing, we all need Bouton's ten tips. I plan to pass that information on to anyone who will listen.

Most of the rest of the book is also interesting and useful. I
...more
Allyson
May 10, 2013 Allyson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this more but the whining about her vanity and how it got in the way of accepting her hearing loss and wearing both hearing aids and working to improve her status after her cochlear implant was just too annoying. I understand the concept of denial, especially with hearing loss but I was disinterested in lengthy examination of her denial. While she explored and presented interesting theories and targeted therapies for hearing restoration, I was unable to appreciate the ful ...more
Fr.
Feb 22, 2013 Fr. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I had a hard time warming to the personal stories of the author that form the bulk of the book. About the best I can do is to say that she strikes me as rather fussy, and leave it at that.

On the other hand, I am one of the 80% of Cisplatin recipients who got hearing damage out of the deal. Mine is fairly mild, apparently--I have fairly constant ringing in the ears and have trouble with conversations in noisy places or when I'm taken by
...more
Karen
Nov 27, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much from this book from the hearing-impaired perspective. Having a severely deaf 85-year-old mom, I've been researching what might help her, where to look for information and all things related to deafness. Reading about the author's early history of moderate deafness as she becomes progressively more hearing deprived, you can't help but pick up on her frustration, the sadness of losing the sounds of daily life, and her struggle to maintain her professional career. The topic seems ...more
Laura
Jun 05, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what led me to read this book(I'm not deaf/hard of hearing/etc.), but I'm glad I did. It was very informative, often amusing, but sometimes a little too deep into the anatomy of the subject. When it got too deep, I skimmed, but I actually read most of it. I was really surprised to find that deafness is not silence and at some of the potential side-effects.

I was horrified to find how expensive treatments are and that insurance covers very little. I'm old enought that probably I won'
...more
Kathy
Feb 11, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am actually in the middle of reading this book for the second time in preparation for a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) meeting during which it will be discussed.

The author is a former editor of the New York Times, and she relates her decades-long journey from hiding her hearing loss from her friends and colleagues to being forced to acknowledge it, beginning to accept the need for hearing aids, to openly acknowledging her deafness and becoming active in the HLAA.

The book is full o
...more
Dick
Aug 18, 2014 Dick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by my brother Tom - who is a doctor and has hearing loss, similar to mine. I have two brothers with hearing loss with the youngest having cochlear implants.

It provided some significant insights on how others cope with this health issue - and how friends and family cope as well.

The title is excellent and speaks to why it does no good to yell or shout. It is an important thing for those who live with or work with heard of hearing understand that.

If you - as a love
...more
Sally Ember
Jan 16, 2014 Sally Ember rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
Excellent info and great for starting/continuing conversations with family/friends about my and others' hearing/losses. Something for everyone (personal anecdotes and others' experiences; research, resources and references; costs and comparisons; future indications).

Thanks, Katherine Bouton!
Mary
Mar 09, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suffering from what I call mild hearing loss, this book was a must read for me. Hearing loss is a, pardon the pun, silent and invisible malady. Bouton makes her case for those of us with loss to be verbal about our deficiency and to forget vanity and attempt hearing aids. She also presents current research on hearing loss and compelling first person stories of those living with loss.
Lauren
Feb 06, 2014 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Was hoping for more out of this book. Great cover. But the answer to the question of WHY {she} and 50 million other Americans Can't Hear You was: nobody can tell for certain. Sure, it described in more detail than I cared to know about (first) her denial of and attempts to hide her increasing loss and then (next) her many failures to adequately fix the problem.

What I appreciate more now that I have finished it (forced myself, it was a bit of a slog!) is having learned how to recognize people wh
...more
Bonni Sweet
Aug 21, 2015 Bonni Sweet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this very hard to read because I am going through the exact same situation as the author. Yet at the same time it was nice to know that my feelings and worries were not uncommon. That my fears my loneliness and my cutting myself off from others was not uncommon. I became severely hearing impaired in my 40's after a long career in Corrections. When I lost my hearing and then my career I lost a big part of who I was. I am still learning to adjust. I believe that everyone who has a friend t ...more
Rachel
Oct 23, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This reads like a textbook rendition of having hearing loss. Those who are late deafened and are still grieving their hearing loss might identify with this book. The author is still grieving her hearing loss, and the changes in her life as a result, especially her anger at what she is missing out on come through in undertones. I don't understand why she made it so factual, and less personal, and wrote in a very passive voice. Its like she's allowed her hearing loss to define her quality of life ...more
Sara Van Dyck
This book may be useful to people who are considering whether new treatments or technologies might help their hearing loss, and even more helpful to those who want options for their hearing-impaired children. However, Bouton focuses on medical and technological solutions (she received a cochlear implant), so I didn’t find the book helpful for people like me who have developed age-related hearing loss and seek simpler solutions. I hope that her book, and the many comments on Goodreads, will encou ...more
Cyndie
Dec 27, 2015 Cyndie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cyndie by: Loudoun County Libraries
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was super insightful and I think something we all should read so that we can understand a large number of people we interact with regularly AND destigmatize this condition for others and for ourselves since many of us are likely to experience this as we age.

Now that I've read it I see symptoms of people struggling to hear all around me and identify things that could be dangerous for my hearing in unexpected places. Knowing that this is something that comes with age and that some piece
...more
Jean Godwin Carroll
Katherine Bouton writes a helpful book for those who want to understand what it's like to live with a hearing loss, or live with someone who has a hearing loss. My own personal experience differs from the author's, since I was born with a severe/profound loss and struggled and learned ways to adapt all my life. I think it would be harder for someone who had normal hearing, like the author, to lose it later in life. Those adaptive behaviors such as lip-reading, seating yourself at the front a per ...more
Nancy Church
Dec 28, 2013 Nancy Church rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has hearing loss due to an acoustic neuroma, I found this book one I could definitely relate to - people often shout when the problem is deafness in one ear. I related to her description of isolation as one grows tired of asking people to repeat what they said. I too became good at "faking what I heard" rather than asking someone to repeat again. Going to a symphony is not good for a violin solo but when their are base notes, the hearing is not that difficult. Hearing aids have a ...more
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Katherine Bouton was an editor at The New York Times for 22 years before her progressive hearing loss made it too difficult to continue to work in a newsroom.
Confronted with involuntary early retirement, she returned to her first love and earlier career, writing. The result was her book "Shouting Won't Help: Why I -- and 50 Million Other Americans -- Can't Hear You," published to critical acclaim
...more
More about Katherine Bouton...

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“People with hearing loss are hard to live with. For one thing, they’re always telling you how to talk to them. Here are some tips. • 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. Sylvia, the character in Nina Raine’s play Tribes who is going deaf, describes the efforts of the well-intentioned but badly informed: “People yelling in your ear however much you explain, so you literally have to grab their face and stick it in front of you.” • 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. • If you’re in a room with a bright window or bright lights, allow the hearing-impaired person to sit with their back to the light (for lipreading). • 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. At a dinner party or book group, where there may be eight or ten people present, try to have one general conversation, instead of several overlapping small ones. • If you’re at an event—a performance or a church service or a big meeting—give the hearing-impaired person a few moments after the event is over to readjust their hearing—either mentally or manually (changing the program on a hearing aid, for instance). • Never lean into a hearing-impaired person’s ear and whisper in the middle of a performance. They can’t hear you!” 1 likes
“Jay Alan Zimmerman, a composer, turned his hearing loss into the material for Jay Alan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical, a spirited autobiographical account of his adult-onset hearing loss.” 1 likes
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