Thursday, July 28, 2022

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
352 pages
Read by Kathe Mazur
10 hours, 39 minutes
Published January 2012 by Crown Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, impeccably researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

My Thoughts:
It was my intention, two days ago, to sit down and knock this review out quickly. Time has been short this week; and, since it's been a couple of weeks and books since I finished listening to this book, my memory of the details was growing faint. But the problem with that plan is that I (finally!) found my print copy. Because of that, I felt the need to look up some of the things that really resonated with me. Which was a lot, what with being an introvert. 

In the introduction to the book, there is a bit of a quiz to determine whether a person is merely shy or an introvert. The more "yes" answers to the question, the more introvert you probably are, says Cain. It wasn't much of a surprise to me to find that I had I answered "yes" to almost all of the questions. What was a surprise was to have Cain say that "shy" is not necessarily the same thing as being introverted. An extrovert can be shy. Introversion, she says, "is a preference for environments that are not overwhelming. Yep, that's me. Shyness "is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation. Yep, also me. 

It gets pretty depressing as Cain describes how extroversion has become the ideal. The ideal that those who become leaders are those who are charismatic or who speak up on groups. It's irrelevant whether or not their ideas are particularly great and they may overwhelm those who may have better ideas but who won't speak up. 

But Cain, of course, doesn't leave introverts without hope. She introduces us to introverts who have risen to the top. You may have heard of an introvert named Warren Buffet. Yep, the guy who is one of the richest people in the country and who annually gets up in front of thousands of stockholders to lead a discussion. Cain also introduces us to former Harvard University Professor Brian Little, a professor who was so effusive and dynamic in the classroom that his courses were always oversubscribed. But Professor Little had a secret; while he was able to occasionally break into song and dance during class, he needed quiet time afterward to recharge his batteries. Professor Little is also an introvert. And just how do these men manage to pull these shows off? They've learned how to be extroverted when they are passionate about what they are talking about and when it's what's required of them. Folks, I'm going to be re-reading this section of the book again soon to really absorb what that will entail. 

I would certainly highly recommend this book for parents of children, young children in particular, who are raising introverts. I so wish I had had this kind of advice when I was raising my introvert. The problem, though, for me, was that I am not raising an introverted child any more; while I could see where a lot of what Cain has to say would have been helpful, it was no longer relevant to me. Had I been reading, rather than listening, I probably would have skimmed over this chapter. But again - if you have an introverted child, this book is worth the price for that chapter alone.

And then there's the chapter about a couple - he's an extrovert, she's an introvert. Yep, that sound familiar. They had been fighting about his desire to have work-related people over every weekend. She preferred the idea of that never happening. Not only did they not understand the other person's desire, they didn't understand the way each other fought. That's a battle my husband and I have been fighting for four decades. These days, we've worked it out pretty well. I've learned that I'll probably enjoy myself once I'm out as long as we're doing something I'm interested in doing so I agree to doing those things. Other things, my husband may attend alone or with a friend. Years ago, it made me angry when he wouldn't just stay home when I didn't want to go somewhere; now I appreciate that I get time to myself and he gets what recharges his batteries. Which is not to say that we have it entirely worked out so this is another chapter I'll be referring back to again. 

I've been meaning to read this book for years. I've had it on my bookshelf for several of those. Why did I put off reading a book that could help me understand myself better and give me tips to make it easier to live and succeed as an introvert? I have no idea but I'm certainly happy that I finally picked it up. I highly recommend it. 


  1. I read this book long ago and just loved it as it explains a lot about myself and other people I know.

  2. This has been on my list for year, too! Thanks for reminding me I still need to read it...