Whenever conversation lands on the subject of what kind of child I was my dad likes to tell the story of friends coming to ask me to go play with them and me declining in favor of reading a book. My grandmother says she could leave me to play with a cup of mixed beans and I would be happily occupied for an hour grouping them by color, shape, size or number of spots (this usually preceding or following accounts of my cousin turning the whole house upside down within minutes). I was a quiet child, as you can see, with clear signs of introversion from a young age. I never really grew out of it either, still hesitating to accept party invitations and perfectly content to spend my time in the company of one or two friends, or in quiet pursuits. When I first saw Big Bang Theory on TV I was so delighted, because although I'm not a Trekkie or a scientist in a lot of ways the guys on that show are my people. So it's no wonder that I would be compelled to seek out a book on introversion.
I am usually not a fan of nonfiction. These books tend to lose my interest relatively quickly and no matter how curious I am about the subject if the book isn't done in a style more populistic than academic I have to force myself to concentrate. So when I opened Quiet for the first time I braced myself for a laborious experience. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when Susan Cain started the book with an anecdote, signaling that it was going to be about people, not abstract concepts. Anecdotes like the one in the first chapter kept the book going for me, alternating stories about historical figures such as Rosa Parks, Dale Carnegie and Eleanor Roosevelt with stories about people Ms. Cain met in the course of her research. These stories provided the reprieve needed to keep the academic sections about studies and the science of it all from taking over, as well as an insight into the making of our high-energy environment.
One of the beauties of this book is the fact that it examines introversion and extraversion from a variety of angles, taking into account the significance of nature and nurture, societal norms and situational pressures, ability and desire to adapt and mimic traits necessary to succeed. It talks about introversion and extraversion at all stages of development, from childhood to old age, describing second-grader Isabel and the author's own grandfather as examples. It takes a look at how cultures affect temperaments of the majority, discussing differences between Asia and Europe and challenges people of both descents face. Best of all, it does all this in a language that is easy to understand.
It still took me a week to read Quiet because of the sheer amount and quality of the information. I would turn off my e-reader with thoughts and ideas clamoring for my attention, my mind trying to process everything I've just read at the same time. It's not a particularly exciting book, in the usual sense, but I was extremely excited to read it, sometimes for the validation it provided and sometimes for ideas on how to make it in a world where it literally pays to speak up, and loudly, without wearing myself out trying to be a polar opposite of who I am. I'm still excited about it and I think that everyone should read this book, regardless of temperament. After all, at least a third of us are introverts, and it's time we started really paying attention to and harnessing the power of quiet.
After reading this book, I feel I must say, Yes, I admit I am an extrovert and I like it. I have moments where I need to take a break from it all and hibernate, but in my heart, I love to be out and around people. I am surrounded by introverts on a daily basis and maybe I don't quite understand what makes them tick and what they need on a daily basis.
This book not only shows what introverts need in relationships, but also at the workplace. The final chapter is a complete source for parents and teachers on how to interact with introverted children. I think the author does a great job of making valid points and using interesting research to back up and explain each point. Although this is non-fiction and has a little bit of an academic approach, it reads much easier than a textbook and is a worthy read.
I would recommend this book to both introverts and extroverts. I think the extroverts need to learn how to adapt around introverts, while the introverts need to find the confidence in their own personality traits.
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/01/quiet-power-of-introverts-in-world-that.html
"At least one-third of the people we know are introverts." So begins the description of Quiet by Susan Cain. She goes on to define introverts as "the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams."
The book itself begins with the Rosa Parks, who in her own quiet way made such a huge impact on the civil rights movements. Her impact was perhaps all the greater for "quietness." The book presents a wealth of research and stories on two primary tenets - the enormous influence quiet or introverted people have had on our society and the shift of our culture towards creating an extrovert ideal. The book discusses the consequences of adhering to the extrovert ideal and the ideas and innovations we may lose by not honoring differences in temperament.
The book discusses the extrovert and introvert personalities in a school setting, at home, in a social setting, and in a professional setting. It also talks about the differences across cultures. Finally, it comes to discuss raising "quiet" kids in a culture that celebrates the extroverts.
I really enjoyed reading this book and will like re-read it at some point. It includes a lot of information and so many stories to illustrate the author's points. A key point to note is that this is not a self-help books. It does not tell people to change who they are or attempt to compensate for a perceived deficiency. It identifies that different personality types exist but that our society is not fully celebrating or nurturing those of us who tend to be "quiet."
A well-written book about an important topic.
This is an incredible book; totally validating for those of us who are introverts. Cains research is exhaustive and illustrated that this wasnt some psychobabble by a new theorist.
Cain takes the historical approach to how America turned into the land of the Extrovert. In fact, business and industry have turned it into the ideal.
After explaining the differences between the introvert and the extrovert in the light of the latest psychological and neuroscience research, Cain shows what the introvert brings to the table. Everyone in business doesnt have to be an extrovert and Cain proves it through real-life examples.
I feel the strongest part of the book is the light she places on introverted children and how to help them accept their differences, help them strategize their difficulties (classrooms are mostly set up for group activities; this constant togetherness is hard on introverted children) and become successful people.
Cain also spends time with parents, helping them understand how they can help their introverted children to shine. She gives examples of extroverted parents with introverted children and extroverted children with introverted parents. I only wish this book were around when I was a kid; my aunt constantly took my book away and made me go out and have fun.
I feel that Cains message is uplifting: Even though Americans are mostly extroverts, introverts can make their mark by accepting their unique gifts and giving themselves the quiet time they need to think.
I expected to really like this book, but did not. The author picks and chooses which research to cite and then beats it to death. She treats all introverts as though they are the same and all extroverts as though there is only one type -- the person who walks into a room and is the life of the party. I expected a more balanced approach. I would not recommend this book.