Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

My book club chose to read this look at introverts and the challenges facing them months ago. I started the book but when I realized I wasn't going to be able to go to the meeting, I just left it sitting, partially read, on my bedside table for a terribly long time. I admitted to another member that I was having trouble motivating myself to pick it back up and read it again. She suggested that I wasn't driven to read it because I'm not an introvert. I probably gave her a completely dumbfounded stare. I am the introvertedest of introverts (wink to Charlie Brown). There's never been a personality or psychological profile ever that hasn't pegged me as an extreme introvert and family and friends who know me well would certainly agree. But apparently I fake it or hide it well. And when I finally did pick the book back up and continue, I learned why. In fact, when I picked the book back up the second time, I was completely engrossed in it.

Cain offers up real world experiences that extroverts face. She profiles famous people who are surprisingly (and not so surprisingly) introverts. She discusses the cultural significance of being a person who feels a real need to escape the social to recharge. She details studies about whether introversion is a learned trait or an inborn genetic gift. She talks about the different ways that introverts and extroverts are stimulated by what they see and hear and how those differences result in things like very different managerial styles. She offers suggestions for parenting introverted children and how to use your or your child's introversion positively. She debunks myths about introverts. And she confirms things that those of who fall into this category (and those who live with or love an introvert) have long suspected without any proof. In short, she covers a huge amount of ground in this concentrated look at introversion.

As a book intended to be a discussion of the strengths of introverts and ways in which to learn to put yourself more out in the world when the world requires it, this is very successful. Cain has covered all her bases, using scientific studies as well as anecdotal evidence to discuss theories and confirm that introversion is not a defect or a lesser way of being than extroversion, despite the fact that culturally, we as Americans, are taught to venerate and emulate extroverts more often. As I read through this, I kept seeing myself in the pages and caught myself thinking that my extroverted husband should really read this to understand me better. This is well written and very detailed although it occasionally veers towards sounding like a Master's Thesis or other academic paper, especially when Cain writes that she will go into more depth on a particular subject in X chapter before continuing with her primary argument for the chapter in which she is currently writing. In general though, this is a fascinating look at a subject not often covered by the non-academic world (and often not covered there either). Those who are introverts will appreciate this confirmation that they are not weird or broken but that they have specific strengths and skills which just happen to be different that the majority. And those who are not introverts might find this an interesting read to help them understand the quieter folks among them.


  1. I have really been wanting to read this book, and I've been waiting to hear what you think once I saw that you finished it!! I think I need to get my hands on this one!

  2. loved this one and could really relate to much of it.


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