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

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

Crown, 352 pages

ISBN 9780307352149

Nineteenth century America admired the virtuous. Lincoln, for example, was widely respected for his honesty, integrity, and sense of social responsibility, and his example inspired others to develop similar qualities in themselves.   To communicate the possession of such traits, people of various temperaments would cultivate a reserved manner, as it was often associated with a strong moral character.  When North America industrialized in the early twentieth century, however, social expectations began to change.  Many jobs required that people sell goods or services, and it soon became clear that the most effective way to sell a product was to sell yourself.  Suddenly, it was a professional advantage to connect to others easily, to be perceived as likeable, and to promote your products with great enthusiasm.  Dale Carnegie made his fortune by teaching such skills to the naturally restrained.  The upright but taciturn Lincoln was too stuffy; much better to emulate the gregariousness of someone like Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain explores what it means to be introverted in an extraverted society.  Her research takes her to high schools, retreat centres, universities, self-help workshops, church camps, and other venues to find out how introverts fare in a variety of settings, and she conducts countless interviews to obtain in-depth descriptions of introverts’ life experiences.  Introverted readers will easily see themselves in her stories, and they may gain insight from some of her more detailed findings on introversion in children and on the role of introversion in work.  Furthermore, they will be reassured by her positive attitude to the introverted temperament and the many examples of introverts who made a successful life in extraverted environments.

Cain’s book blends personal stories with meticulous research and will appeal to readers of personality psychology, social issues and creative non-fiction.

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

  1. Hi Naomi! This book is very interesting to me. I seem like an extrovert to most folks, because I am a performer and a public speaker, but I have often wished I were more outgoing. I have to force myself to be a grownup when it comes to the business end of things, such as networking, where being an extrovert would be extremely helpful. I am going to have to read this book!

    I also wanted to thank you for sending Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Flight Behavior. I have a couple of storytelling shows coming up that I must rehearse for, but I started reading anyway. I am having trouble putting it down. She has such a beautiful way with words! Thank you again for this lovely gift, and for lighting up this little corner of the blogosphere, and introducing us to new books and new ideas.

  2. Naomi says:

    You’re very welcome. Glad the book reached you safe and sound, and glad, too, that you’re enjoying it. And thanks for your comments! I’m definitely an introvert, and work in a field where a certain degree of introversion is fine, but even then I need to push myself out of my comfort zone to be effective. I found this book really helpful in providing strategies for getting along in the work world (and also for parenting my two children – one an extreme introvert, the other an extreme extrovert).

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