Joe Moran

Books Karolina Sutton, +44 (0)20 7393 4428 Email Karolina Sutton

Shrinking Violets

book | Non-Fiction | Sep 2016
World → Profile Books

Our success as a species is built on sociability, so shyness in humans should be an anomaly. But it's actually remarkably common - we all know what it's like to cringe in embarrassment, stand tongue-tied at the fringe of an unfamiliar group, or flush with humiliation if we suddenly become the unwelcome centre of attention. 

In Shrinking Violets, Joe Moran explores the hidden world of shyness, providing insights on everything from timidity in lemon sharks to the role of texting in Finnish love affairs. As he seeks answers to the questions that shyness poses - Why are we shy? Can we overcome it? Does it define us? - he uncovers the fascinating stories of the men and women who were 'of the violet persuasion', from Charles Darwin to Agatha Christie, and from Tove Jansson to Nick Drake. In their stories - often both heart-breaking and inspiring - and through the myriad ways scientists and thinkers have tried to explain and cure shyness, Moran finds a hopeful conclusion. To be shy, he decides, is not simply a burden - it is also a gift, a different way of seeing the world that can be both enriching and inspiring.


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Fantastic stories abound. Moran is a wonderful, witty writer and here he surpasses himself... To a shy person, this book is incredibly cheering. It shows us we are not alone in our desire for solitude.

Marcus Berkmann
Daily Mail

Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction... The latest subject to attract his capacious curiosity and critical eye is more personal: shyness... Shrinking Violets is an engaging rattle through the ebbs and flows of this lesser known, often maligned quirk of behaviour.

Helen Davies
The Sunday Times

[A] sparkling cultural history... elegantly constructed

Paul Laity
The Guardian

Shrinking Violets is a nimble, entertaining exploration of shyness in all its manifestations… full of fascinating and amusing anecdotes... [Moran] is gifted as an anecdotalist and as an acute observer of art and life.

Craig Brown
Mail on Sunday

The author’s lightness of touch belies some profound insights into human nature, from the strange science of blushing, to the inherent fragility of our social roles.

Laura Garmeson
Financial Times
Full Review

Packed with ironies about reticence... Moran masterfully and sympathetically unravels these paradoxes of shyness.

Andrew Watts
The Spectator

Karolina Sutton
+44 (0)20 7393 4428
Email Karolina Sutton