Orsolya's Reviews > Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet by Susan Cain
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: the-brain, library
Read from July 22 to 24, 2012

Why is it that the “ideal” person is extroverted? That we pride social skills and being outgoing? All while a deeply gifted thinker who prefers to be in his/her head is described as lacking these traits. Looking at it from an evolutionary standpoint, there is a reason why introverts exist, so why do we rate it as second best? Being a true-blue introvert, I turned to Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” to answer these questions (and maybe propose new ones).

Susan Cain divides “Quiet” into four main sections with the first focusing on the history and description of the rise of extroverts, the differences in leadership styles of introverts and extroverts, and the myths surrounding them. This section begins “Quiet” with a slow and unmemorable beginning. Cain focuses more of an effort on real-life case studies versus actual scientific studies, bypassing any professional data or even her own opinions. The studies which are mentioned are not “earth-shattering” in depth nor do they truly correlate to her hypothesis. In fact, much of the hypothesis is lost and the flow is not seamless or clear. On one hand, this makes the reading understandable and accessible for the less scientifically-inclined reader, but to others craving more research; Cain leaves something to be desired.

Some of Cain’s examples which could be perceived as “witty” (Craig Newark of Craigslist fame, Dr. Suess, and Moses from the Bible) are underdeveloped and also lose connection with the hypothesis. Cain is often abrupt and cuts herself short. Furthermore, many of the chapters begin in the same exact way (both format and creativity) which is tedious and creates a loss of interest.

The second section of “Quiet” describes some of the brain and neurological aspects of introverts featuring more science than the first section. Cain’s work is a bit more compelling in this respect and certainly more interesting. However, it still isn’t clear what she is trying to prove as she mostly just describes how introverts “are”. Plus, most of the findings are self-explanatory and even obvious. Again, the reader will not be blown away. I have read MANY “brain books” (psychology/neurology, science, and biology) and generally, I am left both flabbergasted and repeating information I’ve read to anyone who will listen. This was not the case with “Quiet” as only a small dose of information felt standout. As the second portion progresses, Cain does present tests and experimentation results more confidentially (however, there is a lack of elaboration).

The third section of “Quiet” is comparatively shorter, as Cain explains the conformities and values of the Asian cultures while in the fourth section, Cain offers tips and lifestyle adaptations for introverts in various areas such as work, romance, parenting, play, etc. At this point, “Quiet” appears to be more of a self-help book.

The latter end of the book is overly focused on parenting and schooling of children causing me to feel alienated and distanced (having no children). Furthermore, the “Conclusion” is weak and sums up the book which actually reinforces how few points are made.

Simply, “Quiet" is not what I expected. Instead of explaining “why” introverts are the way they are; Cain described “how” they are with an absence of data I would have preferred. All in all though, it has been confirmed (which I already knew) that I am indeed an introvert.
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Reading Progress

07/22/2012 page 41
12.0% "Great topic but a slow beginning."
02/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Willow (new)

Willow Excellent review! Seeing how you are an introvert like myself, I wanted to share this little video with you. I feel like it perfectly explains us. lol


Orsolya That video is pretty much a sum-up of this book! No read to read it! HA!

message 3: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary if you are looking for more practical information, The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney might strike your fancy a little better.

Orsolya Thanks for the suggestion, Mary! That book appears to be more of a "how to live an introvert" reading which is still not exactly what I am seeking. I will consider it, however! Thanks!

Maureen I really don't think anyone can describe "why" introverts are the way they are or "why" extroverts are the way they are. You'd have to meet every person in the world, and that's a little impossible. I thought she gave very interesting studies. I'd personally be bored with numbers and data and scientific mumbo-jumbo that would make personality traits read like a disease in a medical journal. Some people needs fact after fact. I guess we just read differently. I liked that she gave her own experiences, as well as those of others. It's never going to be a perfect study because we're talking about personality, and there are different factors in determining why people act and think the way they do.

Orsolya Maureen wrote: "I really don't think anyone can describe "why" introverts are the way they are or "why" extroverts are the way they are. You'd have to meet every person in the world, and that's a little impossibl..."

You make some good points Maureen and I agree that some of these areas are subjective in terms of reading enjoyment.

However, many of my comments in my review also had to do with things which aren't subjective such as the text being slow, not earth-shattering, not cohesive, having an unclear hypothesis, etc. Thus, I stick by my review. I do understand your view, though.

Andrew Leon And didn't you get tired of how many times she said "at first blush"? Oh, my gosh, I wanted to throw the book across the room!

Orsolya Andrew wrote: "And didn't you get tired of how many times she said "at first blush"? Oh, my gosh, I wanted to throw the book across the room!"

It's been almost a year since I've read this so I can't quite remember that detail but I'm sure I was frustrated at the time!

Andrew Leon I was upset by the book, but it was because I felt like I was reading a self help on how to do public speaking.

Orsolya I don't even feel it was a self-help book. I feel that it merely described the traits of introverts. It was nothing that I expected. I am an introvert...I already know the traits!

Andrew Leon And the worst thing about that is that she just assumed that everyone was the same type of introvert as she is. I'm not a shy introvert and I don't have public speaking issues, but she treated introversion as is everyone has those issues.

Orsolya I agree. The book did marginalize and stereotype. Cain did remark that not all introverts have the same exact qualities but then still described it as such.

Andrew Leon Yeah. She did state at the beginning that all introverts are not shy and, then, completely disregarded that statement. Along with many others.

It's too bad, too, because she does seem to have a passion for the subject.

Orsolya Yes, it could have been a great book on the topic. Oh well.

Tome Addiction I know I am chiming in on a two year old discussion, sorry I came across it today perusing through GR's while eating my lunch at my desk as a typical Introvert (I).

Orsolya, I would agree with your critique of this book and disagree with, what appears, attempts to change your opinion. Your opinion is valid for your own reasons. I myself did rate the book higher but agree with your synopsis. I get more of my deeper empirical research from published articles in peer reviewed journals.

Anyway, it appears you read a lot of books related to how humans process information, the function of the brain, etc. If you haven't already read these, here are some suggestions.

The 7 Sins of Memory by Daniell L. Schacter

Multimedia Learning by Richard E. Mayer
This book is published research and explains dual code theory or how the brain processes through visual and auditory receptors.

Not knowing you or your background you may already be well versed in the above related topics. If so, kindly ignore.

Just for everyones information. I don't like how are culture puts a label on Introvert or Extravert when its more like a sliding scale of your personality that has been developed through social, cultural experience and nature nurture.

Everyone can be just as much as an extravert or introvert as the next person its just how they manage to do it, how long they can sustain it, and how they can cope with it. People have a strength to live on one side of the scale or the other its not that they can't slide back and forth between I and E given the right situation or cause, and good reason to slide out of their comfort zone.

I am an I but have to be an E by day so when left to my comfort zone I slip back into the I on the scale and my friends who are E's don't understand that I am an I, and just fine, truly fine, sitting at the party watching and listening and only interjecting when pertinent or when I feel I am ready to do so. "Yes, I am just fine, thanks for asking"

Orsolya Thanks Tome for the eloquent, kind, and informative response. I will take a look at those published works you suggested.

I agree that there is more to it than just he extreme opposite of I or E which is why some published articles nowadays reveal Introverted-extrovert categories, etc. I am an introvert but very social and extroverted once in a social setting. The thing is that I choose to not be in the social setting too often so it is sort of a process to get me there. But once there, I am very extroverted. Plus, sadly, many times introverts are viewed as sad or depressed. This isn't the case as I am sure you know. I am my own best company and friend. I may be alone sometimes but am NEVER EVER lonely. Two different things. Most don't understand that.

Tome Addiction Ditto, hope you enjoy the books.

There are introverted cultures, such as Finland. I am Finnish maybe I inherited the trait but my mother is 100% Finnish and not an I.

You know how you can tell if a Finlander likes you? ..... They are looking at your shoes and not theirs. bad ump bump. : )

Have a nice day.

Orsolya Tome Addiction wrote: "Ditto, hope you enjoy the books.

There are introverted cultures, such as Finland. I am Finnish maybe I inherited the trait but my mother is 100% Finnish and not an I.

You know how you can tell ..."

Haha, cute joke. :)

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