Monday, 2 March 2015

'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' by Susan Cain (2012)

Emma Watson: "It’s interesting, because people say things to me like, “It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs,” and I'm just like, I mean, I appreciate that, but I'm kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature, it’s not like a conscious choice that I'm making necessarily. It’s genuinely who I am. Have you seen Quiet by Susan Cain? It discusses how extroverts in our society are bigged up so much, and if you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you. That’s like the story of my life. Coming to realise that about myself was very empowering, because I had felt like Oh my god, there must be something wrong with me, because I don’t want to go out and do what all my friends want to do."

I actually finished this book a while ago but I haven't been very well during the past couple of weeks. That's the reason why my blog has been unusually quiet (no pun intended!)

Quiet is an extremely well-written and researched book. There's a huge amount of psychological information about the brains of introverts and extroverts - which I found absolutely fascinating! - but Cain's writing is still very accessible and engaging. Sadly Western society is very much biased towards extroverts and Cain does a fantastic job in dispelling many of the common myths about introverts: that they're weird, rude, antisocial, unfriendly, slow, inarticulate, cowardly, boring, less virtuous than extroverts, etc. Cain never once bashes extroverts but she highlights all of the positive things about being an introvert and gives some great advice on how introverts can take advantage of their strengths. I also loved Cain's profiling on some of the most famous introverts in history and her chapter about East Asian society (where introverts make up the majority of the population).

Quiet isn't quite a five star read for me. Not everything that Cain wrote about was of particular interest or relevance to me so there were one or two chapters that I found a bit dull. I've also read some reviews of this book from other British readers who felt that the book was too US-centric and I can see where these readers are coming from. I don't think Cain did enough to explain why extroversion is prized in almost all of the Western world and not just America. But nevertheless* this book definitely made me understand myself better and I would highly recommend it: both to introverts and to extroverts who want to understand their introverted loved ones.

Rating: 4.5/5

* I know it's not really necessary to put a "but" before "nevertheless" but I always want to because I think it sounds better!


Lianne @ said...

Great review! I read this book a few years ago (shortly after it was released, I believe) and I found it especially comforting as an introvert xD But I agree, it was very US-centric at times when it could be applicable to other Western countries/societies.

Hannah said...

Thank you! :) And yes, this book is very comforting. It would have been even more so if I'd read it as a teenager. I had no idea what introversion was back then and I thought there was something wrong with me. But I should add that my life is great now!

Amanda said...

Hi Hannah! I've never left a comment before, but I've been reading your blog for a while, and I really like it! You have great taste in books and movies, in my opinion. :)
I read Quiet a couple of years ago for a discussion group in my English class, and I found it really interesting. I had always assumed that introversion and shyness were the same thing, and this book helped convince me that they aren't the same thing. I am both introverted and extremely shy, and this book explained the difference pretty well. It's been a while since I read it, of course, but I think I've based my idea of the typical introvert on this book.
I didn't really notice the way that it focused on American introverts because that is what I am, but after reading what you said about it being fairly US-centric, I think that's a pretty good point. It seems to say that Americans feel like they don't belong in their own culture if they don't fit the general stereotype of the loud, self-confident American. But like you said, this book could have been better if the author had focused on Western culture as a whole and not just the image of a stereotypical bossy American.
Thanks for writing this review! It has made me want to read Quiet again. :)

Hannah said...

That's one of the best comments anyone has ever written to me! Your comment made my day and I'm totally following you back! :D