Published: 2012 by Crown Publishers
Source: Purchased at my local independent bookstore
Quiet is a book I wish was available 20 years ago when I was in university.
I was in the Faculty of Commerce and many of my classes depended heavily on group projects and/or classroom participation for significant portions of the grades. I hated it. People would say something in class just to say something and get their participation points for the day and/or they would butt in without considering anyone else who was waiting; I felt like a mouse, waiting until I had something I considered meaningful to contribute to the discussion and – worst of all – waiting until I was recognized by the professor to say my piece. I graduated with my degree and a decent grade point average, but I know that had I spoken up more I may have done better.
My name is Suzanne and I am an introvert.
It’s not that I didn’t know that; I’ve always been fairly quiet and keep to myself with only a few close friends. But I’ve always felt – different, like something was wrong with me. I have family and dear friends who lead active social and professional lives because they are able to comfortably insert themselves into any situation and strike up a conversation with whomever they meet – so why couldn’t I?
Well, Quiet has put my mind at ease about myself. Introversion is not something to be ashamed of, according to Susan Cain; and in fact she provides many examples in history of introverts’ contributions: Would the Civil Rights movement have been the same if Rosa Parks, a quiet woman just tired from a long day of work, was not the one who refused to give up her seat on the bus? Would Einstein have been able to come up with his Theory of Relativity if he was forced to collaborate in a group? As well, she uses examples from her own experience as an attorney and consultant to prove that the skills of introverts are important in all areas of life. The world needs introverts as much as it needs extroverts; one isn’t better than the other, they are just different. And whether in relationships, at school, or in the workplace, both can and must co-exist.
An interesting point Cain makes is that introverts are more likely than extroverts to reveal personal information online rather than in person. I’m not sure if I completely believe that – sites like Facebook and Twitter could not exist solely because of introverts, could they? – but at the same time it makes sense. Most online interactions involve writing and again in my example I find it much easier to write about things bothering me than to talk about them; and going back to the pre-computer days I had a lot of pen-pals around the world with whom I was more comfortable talking about my teenage angst.
It might seem like a self-help book for its reassurance to introverts that we aren’t social outcasts, but it is more than that. It includes history, psychology, sociology, politics, business, education, and leisure. It is smart and well-written, and easily accessible to everyone interested in reading it.