Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I find a lot of book recommendations from the internet.  If you’re an avid blog reader, I bet you can relate.  You’re thumbing through your google reader and someone mentions a book with a link to the amazon page, you glance over it, bookmark it and don’t think about it again until you need something to read right now and don’t have any book in mind.  Or maybe you’re more decisive than I am and don’t know that dance.  Half the time I find books that seem fun online, but don’t sound interesting when I am ready to read something.  There was one time when I accidentally bookmarked a religious historical romance (I thought it was just historical fiction from a cursory glance) and there was another instance in which I bookmarked what I thought was a collection of short memoirs, but turned out to be a giant, glossy coffee table book.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, however, did not fall into those categories.  From the moment I read about it on Gretchen Rubin’s blog, I was itching to read it.  There was only one real roadblock: it was only available in hardcover and I couldn’t get it through the library.  For some books I might be willing to buy the kindle edition at the hardcover price (I certainly did that for Happier At Home and May Cause Miracles, buying each of them on their respective release dates), but for an unknown reason I didn’t think it would be worth it to purchase Quiet for nearly thirteen dollars.  After a year of waiting I can definitively say that, yes, it would have been worth it.

My parents got me the book for Christmas and sent it to my kindle.  I had to go to amazon.com to “accept” the gift (would you actually refuse it?  it would be a little seinfeldian to refuse the gift, no?) and then download it to my kindle.  Having just finished My Fair Lazy (my favorite Jen Lancaster book thus far), I dived in straight away on our Christmas Eve subway ride to meet my grandmother for our lunch reservation.

It was love straight away.  Quiet is a cultural analysis of introverts that touches upon some psychological motivations as well.  Although Cain says that the book is written for both introverts and extroverts, I’d argue that the audience is really introverts.  After all, it’s almost ironic the idea of an introvert writing a book about introvertism; it’s definitely the kind of activity that would attract introverts.

Right away the book spoke to me and caused my eyes to well up (this would happen on more than one occasion).  There were so many moments when it felt like Cain was speaking right at me.  In fact, that was the best part of this book: it clearly said that you are not alone.  Cain covers the unique challenges and social position of introverts in every sector from the class room and friendships to the work place and the internet.  There is no sphere she leaves unturned as she seeks to understand the differences between introverts and extroverts.

The book also describes extroverts, but uses this difference mainly to better illuminate the motivations for introverted actions and desires.  Cain doesn’t claim that introverts are better than extroverts (or that extroverts are better than introverts.  if anything, she claims this is incredibly false) rather she argues that the balance between introverted and extroverted personalities is what makes life so sweet.  Perhaps introverts could act a little more like extroverts sometimes and extroverts like introverts.  The world wouldn’t function well without a balance of personalities.

After a year of waiting to read this book, it was well worth it.  I can tell that I’ll be coming back to it again and again as I move around the world.

Do you think of yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?  Have you heard of Cain’s book? Would you be interested in reading it?

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