For whatever reason, it took a lot of encouragement for me to get excited about this book. I know it's not just a lack of interest in nonfiction. When...moreFor whatever reason, it took a lot of encouragement for me to get excited about this book. I know it's not just a lack of interest in nonfiction. When Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit arrived on my Kindle, I dove right into it, and I don't even like tomatoes. Perhaps part of my hesitation sprang from the same place that Barry Estabrook's inspiration for Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking came from: a lifetime of being an introvert and being surrounded by introverts. After all, being one of "the quiet ones" means knowing from the start that others perceive you as awkward and boring or socially inept. How much can a book tell you?
Surprisingly, even if you're an introvert and even if you're an introverted Psychology major and counselor, Susan Cain's book still has plenty to offer. Quiet is not only an exploration of what it means to be an introvert, it is also an interesting exploration of the study of personality in general. The introversion/extroversion dichotomy in personality is one of the most studied aspects of personality; it's also the one everyone thinks they understand even when they don't. For one thing, introversion is not the same as shyness and extroversion is not the same as outgoing. Are the stereotypes of quiet introverts and loud extroverts completely off-base? Not exactly, but the stable trait in introverts and extroverts is sensitivity to stimulation. Introverts are more sensitive to stimulation than extroverts, and Susan Cain illustrates this point beautifully with several studies, including one performed by a psychologist who, if anything, wanted to prove that we are not born with preferences for certain levels of stimulation. That psychologist ended up completing one of the most solid longitudinal studies to prove that babies are born as introverts or extraverts.
In addition to citing interesting research, Susan Cain also provides tips from the experts on practical challenges, including: overcoming a fear of public speaking (if you're an introvert--if you're an extrovert with a fear of public speaking, you'll need to look elsewhere), how to understand an introverted child as a parent or teacher, and how to get the most out of introverts in an organization that doesn't necessarily appreciate the gifts that quiet thoughtful types bring to the table.(less)
Like young love, it's hard to say how much lasting power Why We Broke Up will have, but for the this time in my life, it is one of my darlings. Minerv...moreLike young love, it's hard to say how much lasting power Why We Broke Up will have, but for the this time in my life, it is one of my darlings. Minerva "Min" Green's voice is so much fun, and the details about the signs we all choose to ignore when we are interested in someone because they're hot and nothing else are spot on.
Why We Broke Up is a letter Min writes to Ed about the tattered remains of their relationship packed in a box with the phrase "You either have the feeling or you don't" on the lid. The items in the box are not extraordinary on their own: bottle caps, a used and kitsch recipe book, a seed pod, a tin and pistachio shells, rose petals, etc. Min's letter provides all the painstaking details that fill in the blanks between these otherwise unrelated items, and how they tie into her brief relationship with Ed.
Reading this book now, years after the sting of that first relationship where I wanted to just make-out with my boyfriend all day every day and never stop even if he was a total creep, all of it seems funny, but I can see how it might hit too close to home for some of us. Wherever you are on the relationship experience spectrum, you'll probably be able to relate to something in Why We Broke Up. Sadly, it didn't have a surprise ending, but the interesting part is finding out why not.(less)