Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet by Susan Cain

I’ve been known to call myself a “hardcore introvert” because I almost always test at the maximum possible on any test of introversion/extroversion, so I thought I’d enjoy a book titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking more than I did. I just never connected with the material except for the personal anecdotes from various people she interviewed and the brief history of how society moved from an inward focus on character to an outward focus on a selling personality. Maybe it’s because so much of this was old news to me after years as a psychology student and a love of personality tests.

I felt like Susan Cain wanted me to be amazed by all these positive facts about introverts as though I always felt inferior in a world of extroverts, but that’s not my experience. Quiet might appeal more to an introvert who actually struggles with that because of his/her chosen career or some other reason like friends and family who don’t understand his/her needs. I can definitely see it being a good introduction to understanding yourself, colleagues, friends, and family members if you’re unfamiliar with the topic. One strength of the book is that it talks more about how each person can work with what they have rather than tearing down extroversion and building up introversion as the new king.

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers – of persistence, concentration, and insight – to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”

Although I connected with the early anecdotes and case studies, I became tired of them by the time I reached the last section of the book. (The book is divided into 4 parts – Part 1: The Extrovert Ideal; Part 2: Your Biology, Your Self?; Part 3: Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?; Part 4: How to Love, How to Work.) That section with all its relationship talk screamed self-help book, and while I do read and enjoy some self-help books, it didn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the book. By that point, the book was beginning to feel a little disjointed and like it was trying to be everything at once.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m new to audiobooks. Quiet is only the second audiobook I’ve been able to finish, and Kathe Mazur, the narrator, is someone I would definitely recommend. She has a calm, smooth reading voice that complements the book. I’ll check to see if my library or Scribd has more audiobooks narrated by her that interest me.