A "feel good" book for anyone who chooses to call him or herself an introvert.
My first difficulty in taking the book seriously is the fact that the auA "feel good" book for anyone who chooses to call him or herself an introvert.
My first difficulty in taking the book seriously is the fact that the author redefines the terms, so that they fit her thesis. Based on what I have read, as a general rule, an introvert is someone who is more drained by being around people - while they can certainly socialize as necessary, afterwards they're ready to be alone and need alone time to "recharge." One of the most common definitions I found of "introvert" was "Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people."
An extrovert, on the other hand, is someone who is more energized by being around other people - after a good social time, you're ready for more. But it doesn't have anything to do with Cain's vastly overused description "humble and unassuming." You don't have to be a loud braggart to enjoy being with other people and to feel jazzed by that.
When you read the section after the end of the book, in which she discusses the terms she used, you find that she tossed in a whole bunch of various characteristics and behaviors and called her conglomeration introversion or extroversion, regardless of any of the usual meanings of these words. She said she used the terms introvert and extrovert because people are familiar with them - but if people are not "familiar" with them in the way she redefines them, that's pretty much irrelevant. Why not just use Fords and Toyotas, or toasters and microwaves? People are familiar with those words, too. But, she's certainly not the first - "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'"
Anyone who thinks about things, likes to read, plans, analyzes, prepares, is creative, is conscientious, cares about other people and their well being - they're introverts, by her rather expansive definition.
Extroverts, on the other hand are loudmouth blowhards, who don't plan, don't think, don't read, just leap into action. They don't prepare for lectures or presentations - they just wing it! They yell, pound the table, and run roughshod over everyone else.
She adds to the problem by mixing and mingling - in the chapter on relationships, she uses the more usual references to introverts and extroverts, in talking about socializing. But, in most of the book, she's saying "introvert" when she really means anyone who thinks before they act.
Well, yeah....how can you be wrong if you say that the world would be better off if it paid more attention to introverts, if you define an introvert as anyone who ever thinks a situation through?
It also allows her to redefine anyone she wants to glorify as an introvert, whether they meet any of the usual criteria for introversion. If they're not loudmouthed blowhards, they're introverts! For instance, Eleanor Roosevelt, apparently because she had a strong conscience and cared about people. Well, fine, but I've read a couple biographies, and didn't see anything to indicate that she was an "introvert" in any usual sense of the word. She spent much of her time travelling around, talking to people and asking them lots of questions about their lives, and, from everything I've read, she loved that. I also never read anything suggesting that she wanted to be alone a lot to "recharge" - she had a wide circle of friends, with whom she enjoyed socializing in her private time.
For Ms. Cain, anyone who is thoughtful, caring,conscientous or analytical is, under her special definition, an introvert. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why her constant refrain is that person after person is "humble, quiet and unassuming," and is therefore an introvert. So, if you don't yell and pound the table, and you listen to other people and take their feelings/needs into account, you're automatically an introvert.
I also found it interesting that she says in a GR Q/A that she came up with her theories first, then went looking for research to support them. Hmmm....that's the true thinking, preparing, researching introvert at work - come up with a bunch of generalizations, change the usage and customary meaning of words to fit your theories, and then look around for some studies to back you up.
A second problem was her reliance on "many studies" that apparently preferred to remain anonymous. I found some of her assertions dubious, and would have liked a little more substantiation than just her word that "many studies" show this or that. In the end notes, she would sometimes say "many studies, e.g...." and cite one. Well, no, that doesn't REALLY convince me that there are "many studies" - there's one study. Another note that struck me was one citing to a "small informal study" - that's all the info given about this "study" she relies on. So, she asked 4 or 5 people at the coffee shop where she was writing her book?
And, since she's using her own special definition of the words, it's hard to determine the applicability of any of these studies to her theories. If you don't know how the studies are using the terms, it's hard to tell whether the studies actually support in any way her generalized theories based on her redefined terms.
And, some of the things she cited didn't prove a thing about any differences between introverts and extroverts.
For instance, her discussion of open office plans and how people were found to work more effectively when they had some privacy, lack of noise, lack of interruptions. Notice the key word - "people." I saw nothing in the discussion that said that introverts did better with privacy, etc., but that extroverts thrived with noise and interruptions. I don't believe there's anyone who works better in the midst of chaos and interruptions, when they're doing a job that requires thinking.
But, I forget - anyone who does a job requiring concentration, thought, and analysis must be an introvert! Because that's her way of using the term.
But wait again! Remember how she wrote this book? She couldn't work in the quiet privacy of her office - she had to take her laptop to a coffee shop every day to work, where she would be surrounded by people. I can't think of a more "open plan" working environment!
So, maybe Ms. Cain isn't an "introvert" at all! Her mother told her that she wasn't a "high reactive" baby, she prefers to work surrounded by people, she relies on generalizations and after-the-fact cherry picking "studies" to bolster her preconceived notions. Maybe she's a blustering extrovert, who was just clever enough to realize that books are most likely to be bought by people who like to think of themselves as introverts and who will get really excited over a book that glorifies them as all that is wise and wonderful. ...more
This should have been called speculative fiction. Almost everything is based on "this is hypothetical" or "this is speculative" or "maybe this happeneThis should have been called speculative fiction. Almost everything is based on "this is hypothetical" or "this is speculative" or "maybe this happened" or "one can imagine that." It appears that Weir has a desire to adulate Elizabeth of York, so we keep hearing over and over and over again how wonderful she is - but there's nothing there to support this except Weir's own statements about how wonderful she is (and occasional comments made by lackeys of Henry VII). I have nothing against Elizabeth of York - in fact, I read this book because I know so little about her and wanted to learn about her. Instead, I came away with the picture of a young woman who was willing to marry anyone who would make her a queen, and who then had many babies. That's about it. Weir keeps saying that she really had influence on politics and such, but she doesn't give any evidence for this beyond her own supposition.
And sloppy, in her baseless assertions, too. One that jumped out at me - Weir said that Elizabeth was not fluent in French, so could not talk to ambassadors in that language, but used a translator. 30 pages later, she says that Elizabeth was delighted to hear that Princess Katherine (of Aragon) was making good progress in learning to speak French, because "it meant she would be able to converse more easily with the daughter-in-law whose arrival she so eagerly anticipated." Not really important, but just sloppy.
And, along with failing in providing any insights or basis for opinions other than Weir's own speculative assertions, the book was tedious. Way too many lists of every person in the household and exactly how much they were paid - presumably, because this was the only real information that Weir had. I didn't come away with any feel at all for the people involved, who they really were, what they were really like.
This was particularly disappointing because I have read and enjoyed other books by Weir, both the historical fiction and the "straight history" and did not come away with a feeling of having utterly wasted my time by reading them....more
After I read and loved Kindred, I inexplicably didn't read any more books by Octavia Butler until recently, when I picked up Fledgling. After enjoyingAfter I read and loved Kindred, I inexplicably didn't read any more books by Octavia Butler until recently, when I picked up Fledgling. After enjoying that one thoroughly as well, I realized that I was on to a good thing here - so picked up Bloodchild and Other Stories.
I'm not a huge short story fan (and, based on her introduction, Ms. Butler didn't like writing them as much as full length novels), but these are excellent. I enjoyed every story in the book - and I also liked the afterword for each story, in which she talks a bit about the story.
Well worth reading - and I think I'm going to be reading more of her books soon. I guess I'd better ration them out, though...............more
The book made me think, and I always enjoy that. My first thought in each situation was what would I have done - would I have made a stand, taken theThe book made me think, and I always enjoy that. My first thought in each situation was what would I have done - would I have made a stand, taken the risks, done what seemed to be the right thing despite the danger to myself? I always wonder about this.
But I also enjoyed the focus on the personalities of the people discussed - they were by no means saintly types, acting for the good of humankind. I often got the impression that they were doing what they did almost accidentally - the situation presented itself and they responded without even thinking about the dangers or the possibilities of risk to themselves. Sometimes, it seemed to be just crankiness!
I like that - I like the thought that sometimes the people who do courageous acts to save others are not in any way some sort of saintly martyrs, with lifelong acts of good deed doing. Just people, who reacted to the situation in a way that helped others. So, maybe I would, too!...more