Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - A Book Review
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“Ananya is an intelligent child. But she doesn’t socialise much.”
“Ananya is a smart and active girl. She would do much better if she learned to communicate.”
My childhood report cards and parent-teacher meetings were filled with similar dialogues. And the situation was nearly the same at home.
“Ananya, go out and make friends, for God’s sake!”
“Why don’t you have any friends, Ananya?”
As I grew up, I learned to enjoy my classmates’ surprised looks when they realised I enjoyed rock music, or movies, or just having fun (the boisterous, loud kind of fun – I was a child, too, you know. I liked playing Holi and hide-and-seek and pakda pakdi as much as the next person).
But it changed in college. I was no longer the “studious girl who didn’t know how to have fun”. I joined the college Boat Club and learned kayaking and rowing (cool, no?). I joined the managing committee of one of our fests.
And then someone told me
“Ananya, a leader cannot afford to be an introvert.”
I would feel guilty and defensive when people pointed out my introversion in college, and the urge to say, “I am NOT an introvert!” would come over me.
Because being introverted is not a good thing, is it? Introverts never become leaders, after all. They never amount to anything much and lead sad, unhappy lives. Right?
And I will be eternally thankful to Susan Cain and her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking for showing me how wrong this popular belief is. She even has a word for it: The Extrovert Ideal. And isn’t that apt? Isn’t extroversion held to an impossibly high standard as a personality trait?
With powerful examples of introverted people including Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Wozniak, one of Apple’s co-founders and Bill Gates, Susan Cain painstakingly debunks The Extrovert Ideal. She quotes studies by numerous researchers to prove that being an introvert is okay.
She mentions her own interviews of common people like you and me, showing that those introverted leaders are not exceptions. She quotes statistics showing that introversion is more common than one might think.
Using poignant examples, she deconstructs notable events like the 2008 stock market crash from the perspective of personality types. She teaches the reader how misunderstandings can easily develop between introverts and extroverts, and how to bridge the communication void.
There’s even a section about how introverts can learn to look more extroverted when it’s expected of them, and why they might want to do that.
The entire book is a validation for introverts around the world that there’s nothing wrong with the way we are.
It’s not an easy book to read, by any means, because it’s jam-packed with information. Hundreds of studies are described in the book, from simple tests on schoolchildren to complex studies of the brain. And it’s too real; hits too close to home to be an easy read.
But it’s a wonderful book. The fact that I finished reading the book, despite its non-fiction-ness is, in itself, a compliment.
What I loved about the book:
The meticulous detail. From tracing the history of The Extrovert Ideal in America to analysing how culture impacts the views on introversion and extroversion, the author covers it all.
The emotions conveyed. This is no dry analysis of personality types. Susan Cain is an introvert and her unique voice advocating for introverts shines through the book.
I’m an introvert. Enough said.
You should read it if:
You’re an introvert
You’re an extrovert
You’re an ambivert (that’s someone who’s neither an introvert nor an extrovert, but somewhere in between)
You have an interest in psychology
You want to understand introverts
You may not like it if:
You don’t like data in books
You’re just beginning to read (Quiet is NOT a beginner’s book)
Strongly recommended to absolutely everyone! If you ever have the urge to pick up non-fiction (like I did), this is the first book I’d recommend.
Does this review make you want to read the book? Leave a comment below and let me know!
P.S. I’m taking a page out of my friends’ book and avoiding ratings. For one, I have never liked assigning numbers to this sort of thing. For another, books are complex and liking or not liking them depends entirely on your own taste. So, no stars for the books I review!