Shy – A Memoir by Sian Prior

This is an unusual book, in that it is about shyness, but is not a self-help book. Following an incident when the author bolts from a party in near panic, she decides to investigate her condition.

As a fellow shy person, I found the book fascinating and thought provoking. There were parts where I thought ‘me too’, particularly where the author describes her difficulties in making small talk and her worries about what others think of her and fear of negative evaluation. I was also interested to read the good character traits of shy people!

The book is well researched and the varied sources include Charles Darwin, New Scientist magazine and interviews with psychologists. The author interweaves details of her struggle with shyness with details of her professional and personal life. As Sian Prior is a journalist, broadcaster and musician this adds further interest. Although I’m not familiar with her work (she is Australian), this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

It is written in short chapters, each concerned with different parts of the author’s life or her research. While this made the book a fairly quick read, sometimes it jumped backwards and forwards and this meant that it didn’t flow quite as well as it could have done.

Overall this was a rewarding personal read and I think it would also make a good book club choice, as there is plenty of material that would make for good discussions.

Julie Drewett
Personal 4
Group 4

Shy – A Memoir by Sian Prior


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OIR: Matthew Parris and Owen Jones at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

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