February 6, 2012

Quiet by Susan Cain: Review

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Have you ever been told you're "quiet"? I have, lots of times. I know I'm an introvert. I don't like loud crowds. I try to get all my Christmas shopping done early so I don't have to deal with them. I'd choose a book and my pjs over a party any time. So when Quiet by Susan Cain was offered for review on Shelfawareness, my curiosity was piqued. What could she tell me about introverts that I didn't already know? Well, a few new things anyway.

Quiet, for the most part, discusses how introverts live in an extroverted world. The world as it is now loves the extroverted. The more gregarious have an advantage over the timid, and yet Cain gives examples of introverts who changed the world: Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steve Wozniak. The quiet have an important place in the world. It's just difficult to be heard.

I found the beginning of the book fascinating. She describes how it felt to be an introvert at a Tony Robbins seminar (the ultimate extrovert), an evangelical church meeting, and a Harvard business school class. It sounds VERY SHOUTY! The real world experiences she had were interesting. When she got into the science bits, I found my mind drifting and it took me longer than usual to finish the book. It just couldn't hold my interest. 

Cain does have some helpful advice for the introverted in regards to careers. You don't have to completely change to fit in but recognizing your weaknesses and strengths will make life easier. She doesn't believe you can force yourself to be more extroverted if you aren't passionate about what you do. Like Eleanor Roosevelt or Al Gore, if you believe in what you do, you will be able to move people. 

She isn't anti-extroverted and believes there are advantages to the introvert/extrovert relationships, whether they are romantic ones or friendships. I like meeting extroverted people (one on one, not crowds of them) because they tend to get me talking. When I meet another introverted person, conversation can be like pulling teeth. I'll ask a lot of dumb questions just to get someone to talk; they probably think I'm an idiot. 

There is a chapter on raising introverted children and I had some trouble with the advice. Some of it is aimed at teachers who have a lot of things to deal with on a daily basis. It's not always practical to do the things she suggests. Also, kids need to know that the world doesn't always bend for them. You have to find your own way. 

Cain briefly touches on the idea that a person can't be completely introverted (or extroverted). After reading some of the lengths people go to avoid talking to others, I realize that maybe I'm not quite as introverted as someone else!

Quiet will make you think about your personality and create discussion. Even though there were dry parts, I still think this is a book worth reading.

Thanks to Random House for the review copy.

Ratings:

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13 comments :

  1. Jason has this on hold at the library and wanted to read it so I'm going to forward this to him. It does sound like an interesting book, though as with most nonfiction, I'd probably try to get it on audio.

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    1. I think I prefer nonfiction in audio form too. I've had more success with them that way.

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  2. Psst! Amanda! I put the audio on hold, not the paper book! :D

    I was worried it would end up being hokey-self-helpish, I'm glad it sounds like it isn't. I imagine introversion is fairly common among book bloggers. It would be interesting to see numbers on that.

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  3. I noticed the other day this was available at the library. I will probably request it very soon.

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  4. The book does sound interesting, but I would never guess the Woz is an introvert.

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  5. I really liked this book and found the science bits pretty interesting, although they got repetitive after a while. I definitely see your point about the possible impracticality of some of the advice for educators, but I'm still glad she made those suggestions. There's getting to be more and more emphasis on having students collaborate a lot in schools, and I thought it was nice to see someone point out that not all students would thrive in that environment.

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  6. I have seen this book in many places and am really interested by the premise of it! I don't know if I am an introvert. I really enjoy being social, but I also definitely need my alone time. And sometimes I can be quite out-spoken whereas other times I'm very quiet. I think this book would be really interesting to see how to use both sides of my personality.

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  7. I started this one and them got sidetracked, but being an Introvert myself, I'll get back to it soon --- great review.

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  8. I loved this book. I found the science parts fascinating - I was actually impressed that Cain wrote them in a way that held my attention. At the same time, I love reading nonfiction, so maybe I'm predisposed to enjoy what others consider to be "dry" parts. Cain is getting a lot of press for this book and I think it is all well-deserved.

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  9. my husband and I are both introverts. We are very non-exciting to the rest of the family lol. I'm curious about this one, although I have some qualms...

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