Published: January 24, 2012
Source: Personal Copy (Book Club Selection)
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, superbly 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.
I should start by saying that I am an introvert--one who fought against being an introvert for many years as I was continually told that I needed to change, that I needed to "come out of my box." So, from my personal position, this was an incredibly freeing book to read.
Cain starts by examining not introverts, but the extrovert ideal. When I first started, I found this a bit awkward. However, as I got into the book, I realized that this was necessary to set the foundation for her examination of introverts. And she does examine them from every angle--nature versus nurture, cultural influences, even biological influences. This book is packed with information, but Cain is able to present it in such a way that it is easily readable. There were times that I felt it dragged just a bit, but that happened when she discussed areas (such as business) for which I don't have much interest. Other people may find those sections to be the most interesting.
I've seen many bloggers reading this book, and I know it has shown up on more than a few "bests" lists. And I'm happy for that. Cain has an important message to share and I hope that people do read this book--introverts and extroverts--and take it to heart.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation.