Quiet by Susan Cain is probably the most buzzed about books that came out last year. I spent a good chunk of last year reading reviews about it, from major publications such as Time, which ran a feature on it, to book blogs. Finally, I’m getting on the bandwagon (that probably long departed).
For those of you looking for a general overview of Quiet and want to skip the book (don’t though), you can watch the TED talk that Susan Cain gave about introversion.
Quiet is a wonderfully written book, neither dry nor driveling, with prose that keeps the reader’s attention and has research data to back it up. Most of the book is spent about the power of introverts and how many introverts feel the cultural pressure to be extroverted. Susan Cain argues that there can be an advantage to introversion and towards the end of the book, there are tips on how to deal with introversion and introverted children.
Definitely, a year ago I’d agree with Quiet wholeheartedly. I felt the pressure to be extroverted and all signs pointed that extroversion was not going to be a possibility. I would agree that the society, especially schools, have to adapt teaching to introverted children as well as the extroverted. However, now I’m not so sure that I agree with all the ideas that are in Quiet. Cain includes a list of characteristics for schools that introverted children would benefit from such as small classes, orderly classrooms, and moderate use of group discussions I’m introverted and I don’t think I’ll ever “grow” out of it, but without the experiences that I had in school, I don’t think I’ll reach the comfort level that I have with presentations, skits (also known as the thing-where-I-can’t-act-as-a-tree), and more. Yes, I like small group discussions better (but hey, half the time they end off veering off course of what we’re supposed to talk about) but without the experiences that I had that were obviously suited to extroverts, I don’t think I’d be the person that I am now.
Still though, Quiet is an intriguing book, one that I’ll end up rereading and flipping through over the years. One particular chapter on Asian American children caught my eye (mostly because I can relate as an introverted Asian American). Cain talks about how Asian culture favors quietness and how Western cultures favor extroversion, ultimately leaving Asian Americans in the middle, yearning for extroversion.
Overall, I loved Quiet and in my introverted way, I hope you will, too.