Radio 2 Book Club: Sound

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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found by Bella Bathurst will feature on the Radio 2 Fact not Fiction Book Club on Thursday 25 May.

You can win 10 copies for your reading group, and we also have an exclusive extract available to read.


In 1997, Bella Bathurst began to go deaf. Within a few months, she had lost half her hearing, and the rest was slipping away. She wasn’t just missing punchlines, she was missing most of the conversation – and all of the jokes. For the next twelve years deafness shaped her life, until, in 2009, everything changed again – Bella found out that her condition was operable and eventually regained her hearing.

Sound draws on this extraordinary experience, exploring what it is like to lose your hearing and to get it back, and what that teaches you about listening and silence, music and noise. She investigates the science behind deafness, hearing loss among musicians, soldiers and factory workers, sign language, and what the deaf know about these subjects that the hearing don’t.

If sight gives us the world, then hearing – or our ability to listen – gives us each other. But, as this engaging and intelligent examination reveals, our relationship with sound is both personal and far, far more complex than we might expect.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of staff from The Reading Agency and public libraries from across the UK. Our library reading were touched by Sound – here are some of their comments:

“This is a stunning book and I can’t wait to talk to people about it. The writing is beautiful and profound, but very accessible. Most people will know someone who is losing or has lost their hearing, and so will be able to relate to Bella’s story, and I think it is really important that this is read.”

“This book takes us on the difficult journey of losing one’s hearing through the personal experience of the author Bella. It’s not just a book the loss of hearing, but the reimagining of sound and how our body interprets it. This is an interesting book, full of thought provoking idea we hadn’t considered before. It has made me think and will others too.”

“A very well written and superb book.”

About the author

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Bella Bathurst is a writer and photojournalist. Her books include The Lighthouse Stevensons which won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award, The Wreckers, which became a BBC Timewatch documentary, and The Bicycle Book, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.

Get involved

Tune in to Jonathan Ross’ Radio 2 Arts Show on Thursday 25 May to hear an interview with Bella.

Have you read Sound? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #FactNotFiction. You can also follow Profile Books and The Wellcome Collection, who published the book, at Profile Books and The Wellcome Collection.

You can see what other readers thought or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the Radio 2 Book Club Twitter feed or find out more on the Radio 2 Book Club website.


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