Mini Book Review: Quiet
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Susan Cain is a self-confessed introvert. She did a TED talk about what it means to be an introvert. It took her 7 years to write this book.
Being introverted is not a disease, even though people often try to "cure" it. It's a bit like being left-handed - which people also tried to "cure" before they learned to accept it. I know people who do not like the attributes - and opposites - "introvert" and "extrovert". But you have to use some word when talking about it. Thankfully, Susan Cain starts using other synonymous expressions as soon as she introduces them, e.g. high reactive (for introverts) and low reactive (for extroverts). This approach helps to avoid a separation, an "us" vs. "them".
In effect, the book explores the historic view of our society on extroverts and introverts as well as results from science and research. While it's written from an introvert's perspective, and in a way tells her own story in trying to better understand herself, it also seeks to explain to both sides how the other "ticks" and how they can work together better. We meet many introverts throughout the book, but also several "mixed" pairs and couples and partake in their struggles to understand each other.
For an introverted reader, the book seeks to explain to them that being introvert is perfectly normal and throughout the book she carefully injects tips on how to keep up in an extrovert world.
For an extroverted reader, the book should help to better understand how introverted people think and feel when being exposed to what appears perfectly normal for an extrovert.
The paperback edition I have has a red stripe on the right side of the front cover. When you pick up the book, you'll notice that, actually, the cover page is a bit shorter and the red stripe is in fact coming from the page underneath the cover. That red page lists 10 items of a Manifesto For Introverts. Where that comes from is not clear, though, since the rest of the book doesn't mention it at all.
This out-of-place Manifesto gives the wrong impression: This is not one of those books that has a clear list of steps or to-do items to help you improve your life. There are a lot of tips and insights in this book, however, and whether you're an introvert yourself or living or working with one, they will help you improve your relationship with others.
Susan Cain acknowledges that "introvert" and "extrovert" are only the extreme ends of a spectrum; there are a lot of shades between these two ends. A how-to guide of sorts would simply not work since every one of us is different and located on a different point of that spectrum. You will have to read the book and pull out the tips and insights that work best for your specific situation. You will learn a lot about our society on the way.