by Patrick Appel

While taking aim at tech optimists and pessimists, Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence:

Maitland believes that our culture hates silence. We fear it, despise it, do anything to avoid it. Maitland moved to rural England in order to escape the noise of her city life, and in her book she examines the experience of silence and isolation, both voluntary and involuntary. She rather overstates her case, honestly. Anyone who lives in a city does not fear silence. They crave it, wish for it when the train rumbles by every 15 minutes all night long, or when the neighbor you're afraid of turns on the death metal until your apartment floor vibrates. She points to our constant noise-making as proof of our fear, but I think her examples are just our attempts to make the sounds around us friendlier. An iPod full of our favorite music is greatly preferred over random subway rumble and chatter, and texting or phoning your dearest is preferred over a roomful of strangers' conversation.