Quiet, The power of introverts in world that can’t stop talking, by Susan Cain

Several friends of mine recommended this book. I enjoyed that parts were about Harvard Business School (having audited a Marketing class there and utterly failed to make a comment all class long when participation is 50% of the grade). I remember sitting in the dark brown stadium type lecture hall, each time, thinking, “I will say something this time. I will.”

The thrust of the book is not whether introverts or extroverts are “better,” although American culture extols the extroverted. The point of the book is gaining an appreciation for talents introverts can contribute to our working and social lives. I had to wait until the Conclusion to read, “Quit your job as a TV anchor and get a degree in library science.” I would substitute from my life, “Quit your job as a science teacher…”. I now have my degree in library science.

Quiet is interesting for both introverts and extroverts. If you are more of an introvert, you probably will find yourself thinking, yes, that is always how I have acted. If you are an extrovert, it may help you to achieve some tolerance for people who do not do well in extroverted activities. It discusses how some extroverts are closet introverts. If an introvert feels passionate about a topic, it may make it easier for them to talk about it in large groups. This was true for me as a science teacher and when I gave talks on adventure travel and ecotourism. If I am passionate about something, I can talk a blue streak.

Like most introverts, I prefer meaningful conversations with a few people at a party instead of circulating with an endless stream of cocktail conversations. In grad school, I recall going to parties with my future husband. In a group of people, he would step in front of me as if I were not there and expound to his audience. Perhaps not surprisingly, he is now married to an extrovert and they entertain most nights of the week. I sometimes have dinner out with a friend, but would much rather stay home with a book instead of throwing a party.

I enjoyed Susan’s chapter, Soft Power: Asian-Americans and the Extrovert Ideal. She discusses how Asians are generally more soft-spoken and not so direct in their business requests. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed doing travel business in Asia so much and was such a failure as an insurance salesperson.

Enjoy Susan’s very readable study of introversion in contrast to extroversion in American culture, complete with notes that will guide you to scientific studies, and an index. Excuse me while I find a cup of steaming tea and another book to curl up with.

ISBN 978-0-307-35214-9. 333 pages.



About KLevenson

I am Teacher Librarian at Piedmont High School in the San Francisco East Bay. I am a part time reference Librarian I for the San Francisco Public Library. I have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State and a Teacher Librarian credential in addition to my teaching credential in Science. My first MA was from Harvard in Archaeology. My students teach me something new every time I am with them!
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