Title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Published by: Crown Publishers
Year of Publication: 2012
Genre: Non fiction
I had planned to use highlights from this beautiful book when writing this review but it seems my Adobe Reader has a mind of its own, all my highlights and bookmarks are gone ( this is why digital books will never beat real books).
Nevertheless, I still have plenty to say about this book. The first thing being that I am so happy this book was written and that I found it just when I needed it. I am an introvert and at my age I think I am well-adjusted and I have definitely found a way to survive in a world of extroverts (if Susan Cain thinks there is an extrovert ideal in the US, she clearly has not met many Nigerians) but sometimes the strain just gets to you and then you start to ask yourself if there is something wrong with you.
Apparently, there are a number of things that differentiates introverts from extroverts and not just in the obvious ways (our personalities and preferences) but also physiologically. Susan Cain takes us through decades of research that all point to the same conclusion: our brains are just wired differently.
So can we survive alongside a majority of loud, thrill seeking social animals (this is how I see the extreme extroverts)? Or should we all just move into the wilderness so we can get all the quiet we need? Well, of course not. In Quiet, Susan Cain explores the reasons that introversion hasn’t just died out of existence, along with our tails, since it is made to seem like such an undesirable trait. The fact remains that there are times when introversion is just what we need to survive and vice versa.
We need both traits but it doesn’t feel that way in this present world though, does it? Everybody is busy trying to outshine the other, talk louder, and be more charismatic, sleek etc so much so that a lot of introverts are ready to risk serious mental and physical illness just to fit in. In fact, I know a number of people who would rather die than admit to being introverted even when their unconscious actions clearly give them away.
Well, you don’t have to kill yourself. In this book, we are introduced to a number of actions/activities that we can adopt to avoid being overlooked because we are quiet without putting your body/mind through unnecessary stress. I mean, we all know that the quiet ones have all the good ideas ;).
This book wasn’t written for introverts alone though, I believe everyone has at least one introvert in their life whether they are faking extraversion or not and if you are a parent or planning to be one. I think it’s very important for you to educate yourself on this subject. It’s very unsettling when I see adults making fun of a kid that just wants to spend his time reading his book or trying to force a kid to socialize with people he has never met before. This might not seem like a big deal to many of you but if you take the time to understand the world through an introvert’s eyes, you might get it.
There was a really cringe worthy example of the kind of humiliation that I’m sure many introverted folks can relate to if you ever went to school. Lou Anne Johnson, who is a schoolteacher now, recalls that her earliest school memory is of being made to stand on a stool in kindergarten because she preferred to sit in the corner and read books, and the teacher wanted her to “interact.” I know many people won’t understand but as an introvert, just reading this without even being in the vicinity when it happened, I started to get goose bumps and I felt like throwing up. This teacher probably meant well but this qualifies as torture in my book.
I have so much to say on this topic and I could go on forever but what I will leave you with is that there are different kinds of people in the world and we all need each other, this is what makes us stronger. There are too many examples in this book of how overlooking solid ideas from introverts simply because it wasn’t presented with enough “style or charisma” has led to millions of dollars being lost. Even extroverts can benefit from a little quiet, because that is when you get your creative juices flowing.
This book was an easy read, not just because of my interest in the subject matter but also because it wasn’t written like a project report.
Susan Cain presents her case with stories of how extraversion became an ideal trait, interviews with researchers, her own experiences and observations, and stories from actual people who have had to navigate their way to find balance in the real world.
I am not a big nonfiction reader and I usually take about a month to finish a book that doesn’t have dialogue, but I never got bored with this one. This is a good thing because I want everybody to read it.