Bottom Line: Well-written and well-researched, if you are an introvert, it makes you proud to be included in such an insightful and subtly powerful group and makes extroverts jealous they don’t have the same abilities.
“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society — from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal” over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects — how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School. And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.”
Thoughts: Shy, anti-social, withdrawn, snobby, disinterested, unintelligent – any introvert has heard at least one of these words used to describe himself at some point in time in his life. In our appearance-fascinated society, introversion is seen as a negative attribute. Yet, plenty of introverts have gone on to have a profound impact in history and even in today’s personality-driven culture. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain uses real-life examples and the latest research to dispel the myth that introversion is a negative personality trait. She also makes the strong argument that society needs introverts to offset some of the brasher instincts of extroverts. In other words, while introverts may not rule the world, they are the yang to extroverts’ yin and a necessary part of the harmony of life.
Defining Quiet is like trying to define an introvert, as neither fits into any one category or definition. It is not a collection of research on the subject restated for the layperson; it is not a self-help book. There are elements of both in the book, but neither truly define the process by which Ms. Cain analyzes introversion versus extroversion as well as informs and advises readers who may be introverts or who regularly interact with them – in other words everyone. Much of the book is spent helping introverted readers feel positive about the attributes not considered popular in today’s society while simultaneously providing advice on how best to thrive in a society that prizes extroversion above all else. At the same time, she also instructs extroverted readers on why introverts act certain ways and why they may not be able to do anything about it. There is a little something for everyone in the text, including clinical research for those who want scientific data to back up observations, making it truly a catch-all text.
Kathe Mazur has the perfect voice for this unassuming book. Calm, deliberate, and soft, she embodies the introvert temperament and mannerisms discussed at length in the book. She lets the power of the words speak for themselves without adding any unnecessary dramatization. For fellow introverts, it is a soothing performance, informing as well as relaxing a listener and providing one with those important restorative niches Ms. Cain discusses. For extroverts listening, her delivery is subtle but powerful, inviting even the most distracted listener to pay attention to her important words. If anything, Ms. Mazur’s narration drives home Ms. Cain’s point about the power and influence of introversion.
Quiet is an engaging and informative book for any reader but particularly empowering to introverted readers. Her celebration of their strengths and skills is a much-needed respite from a society that prizes outgoing, enthusiastic, take-charge, quick-thinking people, all of which a typical introvert is not. Her use of the most recent research regarding physiological differences between intro-and extroverts is particularly compelling and will help introverts everywhere realize that they were born that way. The real-person examples and helpful hints for maneuvering in an extroverted world all give one license to celebrate the power of introverts and their ability to change the world for the better.
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