Allison's Book Bag

Current Read #24: Quiet by Susan Cain

Posted on: January 26, 2015

MusingMondaysWhat are you reading right now?
What do you think of it?
Why did you chose it?

After I started seeing graphics online like the below, I began to think about how I had years ago tried to turn myself into an extrovert. As I matured, I began to realize that there are certain parts of one’s personality which are almost impossible to change. The graphics even made me wonder if I should have simply been embracing my introversion. Hence, my interest in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.


There are four parts to Cain’s book. The first section provides historical background to how extroverts became the cultural ideal in our modern American world. The rise of industrialization is one cause, because Americans found themselves working no longer with neighbors but strangers. Under this pressure, Americans tried to become sales people not only of products but of themselves. The landscape of extroversion is also filled with individuals such as the insecure student by the name of Dale. He didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his poverty-stricken parents. Just as importantly, he didn’t want to become tongue-tied at pivotal moments such as a job interview. When a public speaker impressed him, Carnegie set out to change his life—and ended up revolutionizing the business world too. Other movements and leaders in the rise of the extroversion include the concept of an inferiority complex, the model of charismatic leadership, the emergence of group think, and a study of peer influence.

The next two sections discuss nature versus nurture. These chapters spoke the most to me. As I read them, questions swirled in my head: Why do I get nervous around strangers? How come large group events drain me? Why would I rather read or write than socialize? How come speaking in public makes me nauseous? Cain addressed all of them. This lead me to wonder about the exceptions. For example, during one of my teacher preparation classes, a professor felt taken back to realize that not all of us in attendance were extroverts. I was just as surprised to discover that less than five of my peers were introverts. How then do I explain my love of the classroom? There’s also the fact that some people consider me difficult to get to know, while others find it just as hard to shut me up. How do I explain why I can become tongue-tied in certain situations and a chatterbox in others? Cain addresses contradictions like these too. By the end of the two sections, I felt new respect for myself as an introvert.

The final section explores how introverts can co-exist with extroverts. While it might be comforting to know that being an introvert is normal, and even many times a positive, the fact remains extroversion still often equates to success in our society. Was I correct all those years ago to try to change my quiet side? If not, how do I thrive when my peers and colleagues are extroverts? Cain offers suggestions about when compromise is necessary, but also why one must also be true to their inner nature whenever possible. She advises how we can help others who struggle, such as young people who often are pushed into social situations against their wishes. Finally, she talks about how introverts can draw upon our quiet power to change ourselves—and maybe even the world.

10 Responses to "Current Read #24: Quiet by Susan Cain"

What a great graphic and an interesting sounding book – thank you for sharing. Here is my MM

Thank you for dropping by! Off now to see your MM. 🙂

That’s a very interesting graphic, being introverted.

I have the graphic printed and posted on the side of my desk.

Interesting book. As an introvert I should probably read it.

I recommend it most to anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable about being an introvert. There seem to be a few books being published these days on the topic.

What an interesting book! Let me mark it down. Here’s my musing-

The book is so popular there is even a version in the works for young people.

Thanks for sharing…I read this one a couple of months ago…it wasn’t as enjoyable to me as I’d hoped. Glad you liked it.


Too bad it wasn’t helpful. 😦 Another title I’d like to read on the same topic is: Introverts in the Church.

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