Book of Silence is a spiritual memoir by Sarah Maitland, who after a noisy upbringing and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, found herself living in the country. She fell in love with the silence and embarked on a journey to explore this new love, searching for silence and solitude. The book is an earnest and deep exploration of the nature and cultural significance of silence.
The author takes the readers through a series of real-life experiments to find out what it takes to put silence at the heart of a creative life. The journey starts with a six-week stay in a remote cottage on the Scottish Isle of Skye. Maitland is very articulate about the mental and physical sensations that accompanied her silent retreat.
The book explores different types of silence and the tension between the ‘eremitic silence’ that empties out the self and opens it up to the transcendent, and the ‘romantic silence’ of artists that strengthens the ego and reinforces its impulse to create.
The book is a reflection on the cultural significance of silence and how it can be a whole world in and of itself, alongside language and culture, but independent of it.
What I Liked
Interesting book to pair with Quiet by Susan Cain. I like how the book explores this line of human experience and thought, that by definition, does not get much attention.
What I Did Not Like
The book is a bit academic and dense in parts.