‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain
Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was an affirming read. Yet it wasn’t that way for the reasons the title might lead you expect. While Cain does champion the introvert and explain more about what introverts have to offer our very pro-extrovert society (spoiler alert: a lot), the broader message of Quiet is far more inclusive and comprehensive than just “the power of introverts.”
Quiet looks closely at both introverts and extroverts with a critical and scientific eye. Rarely does Cain veer into the anecdotal evidence, except when giving examples of a specific scientific finding or symptom.
The best part of this even-handedness is that is slowly allows you to recognize the parts of yourself that fit in with both. As Carl Jung noted (and Cain quotes), “There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.” People are often and consistently classified as strictly introverted or extroverted, so it was revelatory to me that you can be a mix. Introverts can sometimes be gregarious. Extroverts can sometimes need down time. And you can skew one way or the other without conforming to every stereotype about either.
Part of “the power of introverts” Cain creates in this marvelous book is the power to remove these preconceived ideas of what an introvert is. In a society where introvertism has been boiled down to “shy” and “quiet” (both usually pronounced as the gravest of sins), Cain’s book provides a rich portrait of how much more introverts can be—creative, thoughtful, warm, and deeply caring.
As an introvert, I found the book mind-blowing and transformative. There are a lot of really positive qualities to appreciate about introverts and Quiet was probably the first place I’ve ever heard them articulated. This in and of itself was gratifying.
But Quiet also gave me the tools to notice all the ways in which I’m not a textbook introvert—indeed, no one is. We all have the power to use the tools of introverts and extroverts and we don’t need to be defined by one or the other.
Quiet was a truly lovely read and I highly recommend it to everyone—those described as introverts and those described as extroverts.
In fact, I liked it so much, I’m adding Quiet to the very short list of books that define or explore some very fundamental part of myself. It’s a “getting to know Corey” reading list for anyone interested enough to delve in and includes just two other books: Anne Fadiman’s perfect Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader and the thoughtful Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo edited by Deborah Cohen and Daphne Uviller. With its serious and compassionate look at introvertism, Quiet earned its place on the list and I truly hope you take a moment to read it. It’ll change your whole outlook.