Book review: “Quiet” by Susan Cain

IMG_3733_edited-1“Introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.”

Ever since I was a kid, I wondered why I never had the same inclination towards social activities as other people did. I hated throwing or attending birthday parties by myself, I needed more time to recover after lots of activity, and I preferred walkingΒ laps around the field, making up stories with my friend instead of playing in a big group of kids. As I’ve gotten older, the pressure to socialize a certain number of times and in certain environments seemed “normal,” and I felt guilty if I wanted to stay home instead of go out after a long week of school and work. But after reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I understood that I didn’t have to feel guilty – I was just an introvert.

It’s not that I haven’t known I’m an introvert; I have known for a while now, and if you flipped to the word “introvert” in the dictionary, it’s likely you’d find a picture of me. I always felt bad that I didn’t have the same social finesse that other people did and that making friends seemed to come more naturally to others. I hated that I was bad at first impressions and job interviews and frustrated that it was difficult for me to voice my opinion. While those are all things I can and still work on, this book made me understand that these things are natural, that they’re okay, and that not being a “people person” like I’ve been told I should be my whole life isn’t necessarily true.

I don’t read that much nonfiction, but after reading this book, I might just have to read more. The way Cain writes is insightful and moving while utilizing her years of research put into creating this book. The book itself explores the introvert-extrovert spectrum from a variety of angles, and as an introvert myself, helped me understand my temperament better. But she also writes for extroverts, citing examples of introverts and extroverts in relationships, families, and work places. Even though I personally think introverts would find this book more inspirational, it’s useful for extroverts to understand how and why introverts see the world in a different light. If you like nonfiction, are an introvert, or want to understand someone better with engaging research and writing, then I would recommend this book to you.

As I write this blog post, I’m reminded of one of the topics discussed in Cain’s book. She talks about how many companies with introverts thrive on digital communication, as it’s easier for collaboration since it removes restricting social conventions and the inevitable extroverts voicing their opinion over introverts. She writes:

“[Introverts] welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.”

While I don’t think there’s any substitute for the comfort and familiarity of personal relationships, it’s comforting to find in Quiet a sense of relief in that private space that I, and many other introverts, need in order to be successful and happy.

5 out of 5 stars

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