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

by Susan Cain

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5,030304899 (4.05)287
Gorgeous book. I didn't realize I was an introvert. But it's very clear, after reading this, that I am.
My only complaint is that Cain is a little biased (in a sense) towards introverts...which I enjoyed emotionally but intellectually found a little less satisfying. It creates a tilt in the book that left me with a number of questions about extroverts. I found myself, though, really wondering if this lens (introvert/extrovert) could be a useful filter for analyzing the leadership strengths and weaknesses. ( )
1 vote JerryColonna | Apr 5, 2012 |
Showing 1-25 of 314 (next | show all)
I went 3, no 4, no 3, no 4, no 3 on this. And I realised this was an example of one of the traits of introversion, to decide correctly so as not to feel guilt. "Guilt" is mentioned 22 times in this book.
What sucked me in to trying this book was in the intro: "Now that you're an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book."
EXACTLY!!
In fact, it doesn't even have to be a GOOD book, just a book! Or a magazine! Anything rather than having to (gasp) socialise. And if one doesn't really drink much alcohol, or "a glass of extroversion", than it does become a painfully long ordeal.
The first 2/3 was quite interesting. About one-third of the population are introverted, but the extroversion bias of North American society, especially the US, means that introversion becomes regarded as a defect or something to overcome, rather than just a temperament which in many ways is more desirable than its opposite. Society needs both temperaments and the spectrum between them. (But try telling that to the pharmaceutical companies making Paxil and Zoloft etc., who would love to label as all as having 'social anxiety disorder'. They are trying to create disease out of normal human nature. They could make twice as much money if they instead try to create a disease of extroverts and call it something like "pathologic social exhuberance disorder". :-) )
The last part lost my interest, as it degenerated into a self help type style, thereby somewhat contradicting the first parts of the book. Still, it was an interesting enough book. I never read these kinds of books, so that I managed to finish it says something. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
This book explains so much about me! ( )
1 vote SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
This book offers a lot of intriguing insights into the differences between introverts and extroverts, and why the world needs both. This is by far the best book I have ever found on the subject. ( )
  Coffeehag | Apr 14, 2016 |

Loved this book and it's gentle reminder that introverted souls do have much to offer. More later...

Much, much later, so sorry! Here it is, written in January 2013:

This is one of the books that I read last year that I can’t quit thinking about.

Quiet wasn’t supposed to be a hit, but it did in fact win a “literary” award when it was chosen by readers as the “Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Non Fiction, 2012.” Of the books I have reviewed this year, it is the one that I get asked about most often. Introverts are very happy to have a book that explores their contributions to society, their values, and that simply gives them permission to have their “quiet time.”

Cain begins her book by making the point that, somewhere along the way, America became an “extrovert wins” society. So, even those who are naturally introverted learn to hide it and be extroverted; thus, there are many “closet introverts” in our society. Cain is trying to start a counterrevolution, and is educating readers about how to embrace their introvert selves.

Cain makes the argument that everyone (including parents and teachers, businesses and colleagues) should do more to value introverts and their contributions. They may not talk as much, or stand out in a crowd, and they may be slow to jump in, but they make invaluable contributions. “Introverts ... may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

As you can see, it may be difficult to actually spot an introvert, but one thing they have in common is the need for quiet in their lives. According to Cain, the definitions for introvert are many and various, but she concludes that an introvert is not simply a person who is painfully shy, but rather someone who must spend time alone thinking, being quiet. The book is full of points and pointers, such as the fact that even an introvert can learn to overcome the fear of public speaking, if they want to have this skill (Cain is a case in point).

Cain also explores some scientific data about why introverts may be hardwired for peace and quiet, and even for darkness. I find that very, very interesting. When I'm in relaxation mode, I want it dark and quiet. An extrovert very near and dear to me wants it bright and loud. ;)

If you are an introvert, or if you know one, or are married to one, or work with one, or teach one, or have a child that is one, you might want to read this book. If you are an extrovert and realize you need to spend more time thinking before you speak, you might want to read this book.

( )
3 vote sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
As a long-standing introvert who has tried over many years to become more extrovert, I was very keen to read a book which sings the praises of introverts. And Susan Cain makes a very convincing case that introverts have been undervalued and extroverts overvalued, especially in modern day western societies with a wealth of research evidence to back this up. Unfortunately, for me, there was rather too much evidence and I found the book became repetitive.
However, if you are the parent of small children or a school teacher, there is some very sage advice on how to value and get the best out of all children whatever their personality type.
The other thing I felt was missing was a more forensic political analysis of the tendency to assume that extroverts make the better leaders by investigating the frequently harmful results of such leadership styles; although, to be fair, she does include some good sections on the responsibility of extrovert financiers for the 2008 banking crash and the failure to listen to the introverts who warned that it was coming. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
The book is not only excellent, but powerful. It validates the worth of the quiet, introverted individual more than anything else I have read. The author pulled together much research for this book, and this helped present her subject clearly. For anyone who ever lived through the loneliness of being shy or who has had children who suffered consequences of being shy, this book can be an eye-opener. It very gently presents a case as to how our Western society looks upon introverts, and how this view is not necessarily the best one. Introverts are quiet thinkers who derive energy more from solitude than from multitude and more from quiet than from noise. Our schools need to learn to value quiet children and nurture them in ways in which they can flourish as opposed to trying, mostly without success, to turn these children into social butterflies, which is entirely against their nature. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Mar 30, 2016 |
Cain's exploration of introversion is a fascinating read. Delving into what the term means psychologically and biologically, exploring what it means for introverted individuals in professional and personal contexts, and highlighting the value of this personality type which is often overlooked in a Western culture that idolizes many character traits associated with extroverts, Cain covers all her bases. As someone who falls on the more introverted end of the spectrum, it was nice to find familiar reactions to situations described and while most of the suggested mechanisms for keeping introverts at an ideal comfort level are things I've already discovered on my own, there were a few tidbits about introversion that were new to me. An excellent read for anyone on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. ( )
  MickyFine | Mar 28, 2016 |
It wasn't really what I was hoping it to be, there were quite a few things I didn't like and also things I didn't particularly care about. But still, it gave me some interesting insights of value to my life. I don't think I would've gotten through this had I not been reading it together with my best friend though. Surprisingly it gave me inspiration to write myself, something I haven't done seriously in a long time. ( )
1 vote zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
Heather Henderson
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
Introverts are often indirectly told that their very way of being is a ‘condition’ or a ‘shell’ out of which they need to emerge. Susan Cain explores the fallacy of this and other beliefs about the introverted temperament in her fascinating book Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating; many introverts are even quite sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, and coffee. Extroverts recharge their batteries by socializing, while introverts recharge by being alone.

The author explains the benefits of an introverted temperament, not to claim superiority over extroversion, but simply to assert the inherent value of the introvert in a culture that, for the past century, has highly valued, promoted, and rewarded extroversion. Cain discusses America’s shift (in the early 1900s) from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Later, Cain presents evidence that a large proportion of the most beloved and successful leaders of social movements or admired heads of corporations displayed strong introvert characteristics: from Gandhi and Rosa Parks, to Stephen Wozniak of Apple. “Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions” (57).

Cain also discusses the benefits of ‘introverted’ environments; for example, creation and innovation most often spring from solitude, not collaboration. Online collaboration was an interesting and singular exception to this rule, allowing people to work in solitude, to unleash their creativity, and to submit their work and ideas in a medium that also allows them to engage and disengage at will.

I highly recommend this book if you, as an introvert, would like to understand yourself more, or if you, as an extrovert, want to understand better a spouse, child, or other loved one. The book is about appreciating the qualities and gifts that introverts have to offer, and how to use that understanding to fully value and meaningfully connect with one another. ( )
2 vote SaraMSLIS | Mar 1, 2016 |
I enjoyed this one very much, and appreciated the nudge from Carrie and others who've read and reviewed it here. I actually bought the book a few years ago because I wanted to support my quiet daughter, who definitely did not start out life that way. I recognized her, and myself, throughout the book. Ms. Cain's well-researched book explores varying cultural values, school, home and workplace strategies to support introverts, and physiological and neurological reasons why some people are simply hard-wired to prefer a quieter environment. She recounts numerous stories and anecdotes of famous introverts -- artists, writers, scientists, innovators -- who find solitude and quiet essential to their contributions.

I particularly enjoyed the book as an educator. What a mess education is in. Even the short time I have been teaching I have seen many different sweeping, research-based movements about teaching styles and classroom organization designed to "prepare learners for the 21st century workplace." I have also heard countless times that the jobs my elementary-aged students will have probably do not exist yet, and that current school children will likely change jobs or careers numerous times over the course of their adulthood. So why do we need to make every educational experience a "collaborative" one, when clearly many students do not thrive under this model all day every day, and their future career opportunities are so unknown?

"Why do we accept this one-size-fits-all situation as a given when we know perfectly well that adults don't organize themselves this way? We often marvel at how introverted, geeky kids "blossom" into secure and happy adults. We liken it to a metamorphosis. However, maybe it's not the children who change but their environments. As adults, they get to select the careers, spouses, and social circles that suit them. They don't have to live in whatever culture they're plunked into. Research from a field known as 'person-environment fit' shows that people flourish when, in the words of psychologist Brian Little, they're 'engaged in occupations, roles, or settings that are concordant with their personalities.' The inverse is also true: kids stop learning when they feel emotionally threatened."
1 vote AMQS | Feb 28, 2016 |
I don't care for this book, so I'm stopping it before the end of the first disc. I'm a pretty serious introvert, but I cannot stomach the consistent "you ARE a special, rare, and magnificent snowflake" message of the book. Perhaps the book is written for people who are uncomfortable with themselves? ( )
  hanscraft | Feb 21, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this work about introverts and extroverts. I appreciated the work that the author put into it and I liked the suggestions at the end on how parents and schools can help introverts take advantage of their unique ways of relating and learning and engaging. I found a lot of very interesting items about being an introvert and while there is no one type of introvert, it was very insightful for my own self awareness and also for how I will relate to my granddaughters.

The topics the author covered included Evangelical Churches and how the introvert does not "fit". She visited Saddle Back a mega church of Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life). I really enjoyed this section and can fully relate to feeling like I don't fit well with the church today. I found that she includes helps for teachers, parents and employers for how to work with introverts. ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Feb 20, 2016 |
Part validation and part legitimate research, this book was everything I needed.

I am a textbook introvert. Growing up, I always felt like something was wrong with me because I'd rather stick with my close friends than chat up the new people. In college, I couldn't handle partying all night like my friends could; an hour or two and I'd be done. In my classes, my professors and TAs would ask me why I didn't like to open up during discussions -- did I feel that my opinion wasn't as valid as everybody else's? I was passed over for jobs I was qualified for because I just wasn't bubbly enough. Recently, though, I've learned to fake it to get ahead. I cheerfully talk to strangers all day at my job in a doctor's office. I take hundreds of phone calls a week while maintaining an unwavering smile. I coordinate lunches and run staff meetings and act charming and friendly and I am exhausted every night when I go home.

This book gave me some insight into why exactly I'm like that. It helped me realize that it's ok to fake being extroverted for a little while as long as I get some time to myself to unwind. It told me that it's ok and not weird at all to need to take my lunch alone in a quiet room sometimes. And it has some really good advice for what to do when your employer requires you to act the complete opposite of how you feel.

My only qualm is that, well, it was almost too pro-introvert. The author does tell us that she too is an introvert. She's managed to overcome it when necessary, but she spends a good part of the book talking about the awesome advantages of being an introvert and how it's so much better than being extroverted. It's nice reassurance, sure, but I can see how it could be off-putting for an extrovert trying to gain insight into the introvert's mind.

All in all, it's a good book and an interesting read. I'll be recommending it to my introvert friends. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
333 pages

★★★★

I am an introvert. It’s the way I’ve always been. I don’t know how often people try to “comfort” me with “Oh, you don’t seem like one at all, don’t worry!” Well 1) I am comfortable with who I am, people don’t need to make me feel better about something I never felt bad about and 2) Yes, I fooled you – it’s called acting in public and I can rock it. But what those people don’t realize that after I day of being super friendly and extroverted (such as at my job at the museum which I love) I am ready to go home, curl up with a book and not interact with anyone for the rest of the week – I hit my quota, thank you very much. The point is - this book proves I am far from alone and this book talked to me. I read this page for page wondering if this author personally knew me somehow.

I think this was a well written, wonderful read. While it benefited me as an introvert, I believe it could just as easily be read by an extrovert. The author did a lot of research. She writes of many recent studies that are being done on personality types (is it a nurture or nature situation?), she uses real life situations and scenarios, and also gives great advice and tips throughout. Not a quick read for me just because I’m in quite the reading slump but definitely worth the time it took me to finish this book. Very enlightening in my opinion.
( )
1 vote UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Why would a book about introversion become a bestseller? Would the author have anything to say about this topic that I didn't already know from experience?

The four sections of the book are “The Extrovert Ideal”, “Your Biology, Your Self?”, “Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?”, and “How to Love, How to Work”. The middle sections seemed to drag for me. There was more biology and physiology than I wanted or needed to know. On the other hand, I was very interested in her comments about introverts in the church, at work, and at school. The generic congregant, employee, and student for whom these environments are designed are extroverts. Many introverts may feel like something is wrong with them if they don't perform as expected in these environments, and many extroverts would probably agree with them. Cain succeeds at explaining why introverts often don't work well in open plan offices and why introverted students often don't perform well in group work. Cain suggests ways that introverts can adapt their circumstances or schedules to make these situations work for them, as well as ways that employers or educators can accommodate the needs of their introverted employees or students.

The author doesn't break any new ground in this book. She just summarizes others' research. The value in the book is in the awareness it fosters and the conversations it stimulates. Introverted readers will realize that they're not alone in their experience of the world. Extroverts will realize that there isn't something “wrong” with introverts; they just process their experiences differently. Cain points out the gorilla in the room and gets readers to pay attention to it. ( )
4 vote cbl_tn | Feb 7, 2016 |
An enlightening and thought-provoking read. As an introvert myself, I found myself relating to many of the author's anecdotes, gaining new insight into myself along the way. This book not only encouraged me to accept myself as I am, but also it helped to remind me I am not alone in my quieter world. I absolutely adored this novel, for it challenged me to reevaluate my perceptions of myself and others of both introverted and extroverted natures. ( )
1 vote ashniclayton | Feb 6, 2016 |
This is an important book. I am glad Cain wrote it. I am sorry for her, though, that she had such poor editors--and to read her acknowledgement pages shows she had more than just several. I say this up front because of a "fact" that she introduced as an example early on, which simply is untrue. This colored my acceptance of the rest of the book. And, then, at the end (by which time I had mostly gotten over the original glaring error), she used an extremely awkward metaphor! I will list both of these at the end of this review.

Introversion and extraversion are misunderstood in general. No matter how many times I have taken a Myers-Briggs test, I come out as an ISFJ, much to my original surprise, and to those who know me. But as I learned more about introversion, the pieces to my particular personality puzzled clicked into place.

Cain explains many facets of why we tick the way we do, and how to encourage ourselves and others to fully explore our strengths and to minimize our weaknesses. To borrow the old army slogan, to "be all that we can be."

I recommend this book highly to parents, family members, co-workers, bosses...well, to everyone!

But, here is the glaring mistake which really needs to be addressed!

Pg 109 (kindle app):
"Low reactive, extroverted [sic] children, if raised by attentive families in safe environments, can grow up to be energetic achievers with big personalities--the Richard Bransons and Oprahs of this world. But give those same children negligent caregivers or a bad neighborhood, say some psychologists, and they can turn into bullies, juvenile delinquents, or criminals."

According to Wikipedia, Winfrey was born into poverty to a single, teenaged mother, was raped at nine, and at age 14 gave birth to a child who died in infancy.

This is not to say that Cain was making the case that ALL extraverted children who grow up disadvantaged will become jd's....but what a poor example to use to make her point.

The metaphor? Pg 264, kindle version:
"[introverts' can help you]...spot canaries in your coal mine." Really? Before or after they've keeled over dead?

Also, why deliberately misspell a word? It is extravert and introvert. ( )
1 vote kaulsu | Feb 3, 2016 |
Narrated by Kathe Mazur. Introverts, rejoice! This is the book that will affirm your true self and help you understand why you don't have to keep up with an extroverted society. Extroverts, learn how you can support your introverted friends, family and colleagues so that they can contribute as their best selves to society. There is a great chapter on how parents can support and encourage their introverted kids...also very useful for adults who work with kids. In the audio version, Mazur reads in a quiet, soothing tone just right for learning about and contemplating the topic. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This book pretty much validates my existence, so it should surprise no one when I say it was a very worthwhile read. My introversion is a big part of who I am, but I never realized how deeply it affects my personality, hobbies, and interests. It could explain why I don't like violent movies, why I stuck to learning to play the piano when most of my friends gave up after a few years, and why I have chosen to pursue a career that aligns with my passions rather than pursue one where the big money is.

Introverts don't often speak up for themselves, so it was gratifying seeing an entire, well-researched book that defends the virtues of introverts. Yes, it gets a little preachy in some spots, but after a lifetime of watching the virtues of extroverts get all the praise and attention, I had no problem with Cain pushing out her own introvert-biased agenda. Some would argue that the book is a self-help book for introverts (they've got a valid point there), but I think anyone—introvert or extrovert—would benefit from reading this book. ( )
1 vote AngelClaw | Feb 2, 2016 |
Excellent book. The first half is very, very interesting. The last third starts to meander a bit as it covers parenting details. ( )
1 vote deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society — from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer. Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. ( )
  rds4smith | Jan 27, 2016 |
9 audio discs

"...neither e=mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal" (from Quiet)

4.5*

celebration of the introvert ( )
1 vote pennsylady | Jan 26, 2016 |
A fascinating book - very encouraging for those of us who are surrounded by people who feel they have to make noise to significant. So much of the noise is pointless, ill-considered and often made without taking the time to listen to others. Yet the noisy are successful simply because they are loud and confident. This book restores the balance a little. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Jan 25, 2016 |
What a wonderful book! I highly recommend it not just to fellow introverts, but to teachers, parents, or anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of introversion and extroversion. ( )
1 vote Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
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