Recently I finished reading Joe Moran’s bestselling 2016 book, Shrinking Violets – The Secret Life of Shyness.
You might think that I would be jealous of a shyness book that is commercially successful, when my book, The Shyness Guide, being an ‘indie’ book, is not allowed to compete in that arena.
Well, that’s not what I feel at all. For one thing, Moran’s view of shyness is not in competion with mine. They are not the same, but they are complementary.
Besides that, it’s heartening to see that a book directed exclusively at shyness can be a bestseller.
Joe Moran, professor of English and cultural history at Liverpool University, is an accomplished writer who comes at shyness with personal experience, literary skill and a subtle mind. For me, his value has been chiefly in his portraits of the many shy characters in history – politicians, military officers, authors, artists, musicians, etc.
For example, I was not aware of Charles DeGaulle as an important shy figure, but Moran reveals him to have been a perfect example of a shy confident man, a type that I’ve been writing about and encouraging my readers to emulate.
Once I’ve had a chance to read more about Degaulle, you’re going to read more about him here.
Moran obviously hasn’t read my book, The Shyness Guide, which is unfortunate, but hardly surprising. I hope that those of you who have read it realize that you’re a very unique and, in my view, a privileged group.
For example, when Moran presents the view from Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca of shy people building up a “great distorted wall” to protect themselves from social life, he sympathizes with the wall builders and says that’s okay as long as they scale the wall occasionally to temporarily take part in that problematic social world. The possibility that I offer, of learning to turn that wall into a portable shield that you can carry around with you, a protective device that will allow you to battle confidently in the social arena, is not there.
But the absence of that in a book as marvellous as Shrinking Violets is hardly a drawback.
Although his book could have been titled, A History of Shyness, Moran has original and important views of his own about the nature of shyness. In his last chapter, “The New Ice Age”, he presents them flawlessly, in fascinating image and metaphor.
For anyone shy, this book is a must read.