What I'm Reading: Quiet

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

As a textbook introvert, I was really excited to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  Ultimately, I think the book was less exciting and informative than I would have liked.  Throughout most of the book, Cain spends a few paragraphs describing a scientific study, another few paragraphs unpacking the real-world implications of that study, and then moves onto a different facet of research and repeats the process.  This approach felt a bit too broad, and I wish that Cain had focused on the most meaningful scientific research, offering deeper and more thoughtful analysis and applications for real-world situations. 

That said, I read Quiet for a book club that I'm part of, and we had one of our most lively discussions about this book.  While reading Quiet wasn't particularly enlightening, it did illuminate topics that most us hadn't thought about too much and generated conversations that were incredibly rich and meaningful.  We talked about how different personality types function in different situations and how things like education, work environments, and interpersonal relationships can and should be shifted to better maximize each individual's potential and help them feel most comfortable.  We discussed the overly narrow notion of success that has come to define what it means to do well in business and how the talents and abilities that introverts bring to the table are too often overlooked.  We talked about imposter syndrome, the different hats that many introverts wear in order to better fit in, and how self-conscious many introverts feel living in fast-paced urban environments that affirm going out with friends and having a busy social life as good while casting a dubious eye on quiet Saturday mornings spent at home with a spouse or a close friend or no one at all.  It was so nice to learn that I'm not the only one who values and sincerely enjoys time spent completely alone. 

While I don't think that Quiet is a great book, I appreciate that it sheds light on a topic that not many people have thought about, questions many of the notions and premises that we have come to accept as universal, and generates lively discussions among today's working professionals, many of whom have struggled with feeling like an outsider for not conforming to the expectations of the world.  This book is a great starting point for self-exploration, creating a safe space for individuals to look at who they are, what makes them tick, and what they want out of life.  Quiet encourages readers to explore and embrace their own unique gifts, highlighting that our diverse talents and abilities are valuable in different ways and that we are our best selves when we utilize these talents.

Three and a half out of five stars. 


  1. I also read quiet. But I am more of an extrovert so my perspective was probably a little different. I. would largely agree about it being a little to broad and cursory. But as you point out, it is a great beginning to deeper conversations about introversion. I think part of the struggle is the authors attempt to cover so much - everything related to the introvert-extrovert spectrum. And since what exactly IS that spectrum is ill-defined she ends up stretching to cover a lot of different scientific studies. I wish it came together into a more cohesive whole, but I think the book is really great for increasing awareness of the strengths that come with being a more introverted person, ones that are often ignored in this extroverted country.

    1. Good points! As disappointed as I was with this book on the whole, I think it is a very important read, and I think there's a lot in here for so many of us. It is a great launching pad for having deeper conversations about the different ways that we as humans function and interact with the world.

  2. I really enjoyed this book. It helped me feel understood in a world where I often feel misunderstood. As I read, I kept thinking, "I'm not crazy, I'm just an introvert!"


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