Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
2012 Random House Audio
Narrated by Kathe Mazur
Finished on November 16, 2023
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
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.
After reading several glowing reviews, I picked up a copy of Susan Cain's latest book (Bittersweet) while traveling this past summer. (I'm always happy to support indie bookstores when we're on the road.) I've had Cain's previous bestseller (Quiet) on my TBR list for over a decade and decided to start with that book before reading Bittersweet.
Quiet is well-researched and full of interesting anecdotes and examples. I found myself nodding in agreement, recognizing not only myself, but friends and family members who are classic introverts. I'm sure some would be surprised to learn that I consider myself an introvert. After all, I can lead a book group discussion, hand-sell my favorite books to complete strangers, and throw dinner parties. But I prefer small, casual gatherings over big events. I'm perfectly content spending time alone on my walks, shopping by myself rather than with a group of girlfriends, or relaxing on the weekend, curled up with a good book. Thankfully, my husband feels the same.
Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.
It was nice reading a book that validated my feelings about my personality, and yet, I felt like the author was stating the obvious. There aren't a lot of "Ah-ha!" moments revealed in Cain's writing, and halfway in, my mind started to wander, but I was content to continue listening to Kathe Mazur's outstanding narration.
I found the following quiz on the author's website. I answered yes to 17 of the statements. How about you?
1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.3. I enjoy solitude.4. I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in-depth about topics that matter to me.6. People tell me that I'm a good listener.7. I'm not a big risk-taker.8. I enjoy work that allows me to "dive in" with few interruptions.9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.10. People describe me as "soft-spoken" or "mellow".11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.12. I dislike conflict.13. I do my best work on my own.14. I tend to think before I speak.15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I've enjoyed myself.16. I often let calls go through to voice-mail.17. If I had to choose, I'd prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.18. I don't enjoy multi-tasking.19. I can concentrate easily.20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.