Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Intro­verts in a World That Can’t Stop Talk­ing by Susan Cain is the sin­gle most strik­ing book I’ve read this year. I really want to talk about it with some­one else who has read it, but I don’t know any­one else who has. GoodReads says that none of my friends there have read it or marked it to-​​read, so I’m hop­ing to con­vince some­one else to read it by rav­ing about it.

To be hon­est, I fell upon it purely by chance. I was look­ing through the library’s selec­tion of non-​​fiction audio­books that were cur­rently avail­able for check-​​out, want­ing some­thing to lis­ten to while I stitched. I checked it out along with Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future: How Sci­ence Will Shape Human Des­tiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100, and just hap­pened to click on Quiet first when I was ready to start stitch­ing. Noth­ing against Kaku’s book (which I’m lis­ten­ing to when I stitch now), but I’m glad of my chance click.

I’m an intro­vert. Amer­ica is one of the most extro­verted coun­tries in the world, and my fam­ily is a typ­i­cally extro­verted one. I’m the only intro­vert in the fam­ily, so my pref­er­ence for reflec­tion and need for quiet time in order to recharge is markedly dif­fer­ent from the rest of the clan’s outward-​​directed ways.

Intro­verts in gen­eral are less val­ued than extro­verts, seen as being too quiet, as some­how fail­ing, as being less social or even labeled as anti-​​social. But we are, as Cain points out, just dif­fer­ently social. Intro­verts tend to feel things deeply, often seek­ing out the com­pany of those who oth­ers belit­tle or ostra­cize in order to com­fort them. We don’t nec­es­sar­ily have poor social skills, but we don’t always choose to use our social skills in the same ways that an extro­vert would. We do not seek the same goals, nec­es­sar­ily. Intro­verts aren’t nec­es­sar­ily shy at all, although there are some shy intro­verts, of course.

Intro­verts can also be excel­lent lead­ers. In fact, research shows that they are bet­ter lead­ers for groups of proac­tive peo­ple than extro­verts are. Extro­verts, in con­trast, excel at lead­ing more pas­sive people.

Cain inter­views many experts, includ­ing Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sen­si­tive Per­son, for the book. Aron says that about 70% of HSPs are intro­verts, which I found interesting.

Of course, most peo­ple have a mix of intro­verted and extro­verted traits, and even the most intro­verted peo­ple can put on an extro­vert mask for short peri­ods of time when nec­es­sary. I know that I can, but it is extremely draining.

I’ve barely touched the sur­face of the points the book makes, skip­ping around a lot with­out pre­sent­ing the research or argu­ments behind the points, of course. Please, if you’re an intro­vert, read or lis­ten to this book. If you man­age or love an intro­vert, at least give a lis­ten to the abridged ver­sion. If you par­ent an intro­verted child, take time to read the entire thing, as there is an entire chap­ter devoted to the care of intro­verted children.

2 Comments

  1. Scott Raun says:

    Lois McMas­ter Bujold rec­om­mended it on her MySpace blog.

  2. Cyn says:

    I’m in good com­pany, then.