Too Loud a Solitude

“Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal (Czech Republic)

One of Nicola’s 100 best books for inspiration in the 21st century!

Extract and Comment

… I pick up a book, and my eyes open panic-stricken on a world other than my own, because when I start reading I’m somewhere completely different, I’m in the text, it’s amazing, I have to admit I’ve been dreaming, dreaming in a land of great beauty, I’ve been in the very heart of truth.

The expression ‘lose yourself in a good book’ is often used to describe reading as a form of escapism from the drudgery of life, a sort of distraction from harsh realities. In my opinion, this is a very limited way to see books and reading.

I like to think of reading as a way of discovering other places I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met and situations I’ve never found myself in and probably never will. Books are also a place to meet someone who is living exactly what I am going through (or have been through) and so making me feel less alone in my distress. With every book I read, I find out more about myself now and can envisage how I may yet become.

In other words, I find myself every time I read a good book.


Hanta may be a beer-soaked idiot, as his boss calls him, but he is an idiot with a difference – able to quote the Talmud, Hegel, Kant and Lao-Tzu. His bizarre and unwitting education is the product of the job he has been doing for the last thirty-five years in a police state; he compacts wastepaper and books into pulp. In the process he has rescued many books from the jaws of his hydraulic press, and now he can’t quite tell which of his thoughts come from him and which from his books. Destroyer of the written word, he is also its perpetuator… Read more

Nicola’s Creative Reading Group reading list

Year 4 – “Eastern Europe and the Middle East” (Oct 2009 – Jun 2010)

“Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal (Czech Republic)
“The Door” by Magda Szabó (Hungary)
“The Last Supper” by Pawel Huelle (Poland)
“Death and the Penguin” by Andrey Kurkov (Ukraine)
“The Bastard of Istanbul” by Elif Shafak (Turkey)
“Cell Block Five” by Fadhil Al-Azzawi (Iraq)
“Girls of Riyadh” by Rajaa Alsanea (Saudi Arabia)
“To Know a Woman” by Amos Oz (Israel)
“Samarkand” by Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)

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