Book Review: Sound

Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found by Bella Bathurst is a small, intriguing book with emotion that reverberates across its pages. Bathurst takes us on a journey through the science of listening, framed by the narrative of her own intimate relationship with sound; quite suddenly, at the age of twenty-seven she lost her hearing, and remained deafened until twelve years later, when, just as suddenly, her ability to hear returned.

As a journalist and previously deafened person, Bathurst has a unique insight into the mechanics of listening and the joy of sound. Her stories are rich with emotion: ‘Sight gives us the world,’ she writes, ‘but listening gives us other people.’ The grief of her lost hearing is a poignant and eye-opening account of a sense we often under-appreciate. From famous rock musicians to ship builders to soldiers with PTSD, Bathurst unleashes her mastery journalism skills in this book to illuminate a vast, unseen world of deafness.

I was unceremoniously passed this book by someone who knew I was interested in publishing and also had a background in music. I didn’t expect to be impressed: surely as a former musician, this would offer no new insights into the world of listening? I was wrong. Since devouring this book on the way to and from work (as an intern at Oneworld Publications), squashed against an armpit, I hear the world with new ears. All at once, I want to learn BSL, buy protective ear guards, and listen to all the world’s music and conversation.

This is a thrilling book, superbly researched, and full of colourful characters. My one alteration would be to cut down its extensive interviews: as much as these add extraordinary insights, at times they are oversized and jar with the fast-paced flow of this loud little book.

In summary: read this book if you want to appreciate your ears!


Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found by Bella Bathurst was published by Profile Books in May 2017.

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