quiet by susan cain

this isn’t a review. if you want to READ one, jon ronson fairly critiques this book in his 2012 article. reading is relatively new to me; having enjoyed it massively as a child and possessing a library card (imagine matilda from the film MATILDA). i had lost the interest entirely at secondary school, possibly after being forced to read Holes. regardless, now a glasses-wearer, i read again, or at least own books. if you’re going to read any of this book, i would recommend the introduction or chapter 3. i. i. i. i. i hadn’t expected to buy anything on friday but we find ourselves in bookshops quite often and there we were.

QUIET is definitely an adjective i am used to hearing in reference to myself and this is probably why i was drawn to this book, and also the simplicity of the cover, another important aspect. Susan Cain discusses introversion and extroversion through her research, aiming to show the practicalities of introversion ‘along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness’. mostly discussing what is introversion, introverted traits, and the Extrovert Ideal our society aspires for and which introverts must live in. not wanting to gush over it as it appears everyone else has i had a few criticisms and had stopped reading for a while however the book, despite mentioning the exodus, won me over. everyone says the book made them feel comforted in their introverted ways. i had too as i learned that my so-called “party naps” were actually me recharging from the over stimulation of socialising. and that i wasn’t the only person who had left the (hate these words) nightclub dancefloor and retrieved to the toilet for a lovely ten minutes alone. i had no idea that introversion was in anyway oppressed so much that people felt unique by it. being quiet or introverted isn’t as radical as it is made out here, but i have two howevers. however no.1: as an American, Cain focuses on America where yes, maybe it is radical to be introverted in the world’s most extroverted land. however no.2: i am being contradictory by using the notion of Quietness in my work as if it were radical. Quiet made me very aware that i am definitely not an extrovert, any idea that i am is laughable, some of the things paralleled or linked to extroversion i can’t relate to at all. my criticism would be that for the majority of the book i felt a rigid misunderstanding of these terms. despite stating early on that we should see them as loose terms without definition there is a play on stereotypes which i think should be moved away from. introversion and extroversion are not in opposition of each other, maybe they’re friends? they probably are. the possession of one trait is not the absence of another, in many parts of the book this feels forgotten. ‘shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not’ (pg. 12). this quote maybe doesn’t work on the end but it certainly spoke to me in my early understanding of the book.

i think the most intriguing quality is the “real-life stories” included, ranging from rosa parks to steve wozniak (who are both introverted and have achieved amazing things) Cain includes stories from their lives, and i think autobiographies. these are intertwined into chapters beautifully, at first it appears to be about anyone but then you, or at least i, realise just as the character is about to be named who it is. alongside this is a lot of facts or at least theories, so elegant opinions.  i like the knowledge but many non-fiction books become boring where i think this one does not. i wanted to read more and more of it. these added details, even just small paragraphs about, my fave, dr seuss keep the book flowing; making Quiet so compelling. compelling is an excellent word for this book. what i had not expected from was such specific examples, Cain focused on Harvard’s Business School for a chunk of chapter 2, certain stories from the Bible (or the book of david if you don’t want to ignore the Exodus like i do) and minor, historical figures such as Dale Carnegie a 19th businessman. i had mentioned Quiet to a friend and she said that her mum had bought her a similar book so she didn’t feel alone in her quietness. something quite amusing, yet this had put her off the book entirely and it probably would’ve for me too. Quiet isn’t a self-help book, i think it aims to help introverts on a general level rather than an individual one.

PART ONE: The Extroverted Ideal; emphasis is placed on leadership and the workplace which is fundamentally important due to the NEED to be extroverted at school or at work. i feel that daily. coming from college i had felt quite confident however, a few months later, starting uni, i suddenly found myself “in my shell” and i was quite comfortable so i remained there for a while. as an art student you’re supposed to get involved but i can hardly make a conversation last long enough (generally) to ever get to collaboration (wink). in regards to extroverted leaders, Cain suggests ‘they may want to learn to sit down so that others might stand up‘ (pg. 58) which is extremely encouraging. THE BOOK THAT CREATED A QUIET REVOLUTION is written on the back and is also a twitter account which you can get to by clicking on this sentence. although she praises both introverted and extroverted leadership styles she importantly never suggests one is more correct than the other. both have their advantages yet introverted leaders are more likely to see and work with this than extroverted ones. an early problem i had with the book was that introversion was depicted as something which must be overcome, showing how wozinak and parks achieve success with the help of extroverts like steve jobs and martin luther king. i hope more people read this book and that the structures of schools and workplaces change so people don’t feel the need to in order to be successful. as someone who at least attempts to be different at work i can say it is extremely tiring to be someone else for 6 hours.

the issue of volume is probably an aspect of introversion that most apparently effects me and others remind me of it frequently, especially my dad who tells me to speak up. i am QUIET in volume, quieter than i should be but i don’t see why this is an issue? “come out of your shell” and things like it are amazing, i have spoken to other quiet people and they agree it is completely baffling to hear. being spoken over is also an issue i can see being overlooked. quietness, in the way i think of it, is also not mentioned and i find it hard to describe it. the book is called Quiet but never links introversion or even comments on it, i would love if it did. FAVE QUOTES

i am an introvert or maybe an ambivert but that doesn’t matter. i am a girl but that doesn’t matter either. i don’t see the need in categorising oneself but i suppose that also doesn’t matter too. i had adopted the term ‘reserved’ which i quite liked as i think it allows room for confidence and wisdom (somehow?) though now i like ‘quietly confident’ which one of my tutors called me in september. i feel pretty self-assured with my own identity but i already was. Quiet was compelling, it is important and interesting, ranging enough people and topics to please anyone or at least anyone i know now.



chapter one:

chapter two: harvard business school, the ideals of leadership, touch on religion (and some exodus nonsense)

chapter three: the workplace? groupthinks pros and mostly cons, open plan offices, etc

chapter four: nature or nurture? how the argument is swayed by politics and various studies – high / low reactive children

chapter five:

chapter six:

chapter seven:

chapter eight:

chapter nine:

chapter ten:

chapter eleven:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s