by: Susan Cain
Random House, New York, NY 2013
I had heard about this book. It’s been on the New York Times bestseller list and on Amazon’s top books as well. It wasn’t until someone recommended it to me directly that I picked it up. I’m glad I did.
Most people (including my therapist) don’t really believe me when I say I’m an introvert. I’m not really shy. I’m verbally adept. I’m willing to express an opinion and engage in controversy particularly when I am passionate about the subject. I’ve done public speaking. I’m a writer and I maintain a public presence.
What most people don’t notice is that when I talk about myself I usually do it without engaging emotionally. I’m more likely to start to talk about myself and then immediately shift the topic, or to hide the important information in a random pile of data. I don’t make it easy for people to get to know me. What most people don’t see is how exhausted I am after spending an hour or two with a large group of people, at a party or any kind of gathering. What most people don’t know is how my stomach turns when I anticipate seeing people in groups. Most people don’t recognize how quickly I’ll jump on any excuse to avoid public events.
Quiet acknowledges all those things. This book talks about the extrovert culture and how much pressure there is for the introvert to “convert”. Susan Cain discusses the phenomena I demonstrate, the introvert who has trained themselves to look like an extrovert. I’ve never seen anything like this and I can’t express how relieved I was to find myself validated.
Most books about introverts talk about them as socially awkward or isolated. This book delves into the advantages to the social structure of the introvert point of view. It addresses introverts in the workplace and in relationships. It gives value to the huge percentage of the population struggling to cope in “a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
The person who recommended this book to me is a natural extrovert. He found the book fascinating because it ultimately advocates for balance. He can see how his life would benefit if he could find a way to make more room for the introverts. I know it won’t be easy for him. Nor would it be easy for us on a cultural level, but Susan Cain makes a good case for a little change being worth it. Information and understanding are a great first step. On that basis alone I can highly recommend this book.