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Summary and book reviews of Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet

The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

by Susan Cain

Quiet
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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About this Book

Book Summary

An extraordinary book with the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society - from Van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of "the extrovert ideal" over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects - how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School. And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

Now with a Reader's Guide and Bonus Content, including a recommended reading list of introverts in literature, and resources for readers with tips for introverts on public speaking, tips for parents of introverted children, and tips for educators.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet

Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We're told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts - which means that we've lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts - in other words, one out of every two or three people you know. (Given that the United States is among the most extroverted of nations, the number must be at least as high in other parts of the world.) If you're not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one.

If these statistics surprise you, that's probably because so many people pretend to be extroverts. Closet introverts pass undetected on playgrounds, in high school locker rooms, and in the corridors of corporate America. Some fool even themselves, until some life event - a layoff, an empty nest, an inheritance that frees them to spend time as ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "Quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society?from van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Quiet. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

Are there enclaves in our society where a Culture of Character still holds sway? What would a 21st century Culture of Character look like?
I cannot think of any enclave in society where a culture of character predominates. While there may be some that put underlying emphasis on the value of character over personality, it never seems to fail that sooner or later the Leader of such an ... - Dolena

Based on the quiz in the book, do you think you're an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert?
I'm definitely an introvert. I hate small talk. When I go to a party where I don't know anyone well, I just think about being home. I taught for many years and loved being in front of the class as long as the kids behaved reasonably. I can speak ... - mariannes

Can you think of a time in your life when being an introvert proved to be an advantage?
When I was doing a clinical practicum in psychology, working with an abused female in an outpatient clinic who had come to counseling with concerns about her child, her enraged husband burst into the office one night and accused me of colluding with ... - carolyng

Do you agree with the author that introverts can be good leaders? Can introverts be charismatic?
Yes, I do agree with her premise, providing that it is recognized that not all leaders are the same. While extroverts may lead with strong opinions, quick decisions and charisma masquerading as knowledge, the introvert can lead by encouraging a ... - carolyng

Do you feel you've ever been denied a job/"failed an interview" due to your introversion, regardless of your skill level otherwise?
Failed an interview, definitely. - sallyh

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Though her research is current and substantial, the basic tenets of introvert-versus-extrovert issues she explores are, for the most part, not revelatory. Rather, it is her big picture view and her unification of so many aspects of one maligned temperament that make the book an excellent read. Quiet is different from previous books on introversion because it explores the topic from so many perspectives. Other titles on this subject tend to be strictly in the self-help genre or straight memoir. Cain approaches introversion as a cultural anthropologist might, looking for all the ways it affects our society.   (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).

Full Review Members Only (497 words).

Media Reviews

Whole Living

In this well-written, unusually thoughtful book, Cain encourages solitude seekers to see themselves anew: not as wallflowers but as powerful forces to be reckoned with.

Publishers Weekly

[Cain's] diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off.

Library Journal

This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types.

Booklist

An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike.

Author Blurb Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
A superbly researched, deeply insightful, and fascinating book that will change forever the way society views introverts.

Author Blurb Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth
Susan Cain is the definer of a new and valuable paradigm. In this moving and original argument, she makes the case that we are losing immense reserves of talent and vision because of our culture's overvaluation of extroversion. A startling, important and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light.

Author Blurb Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment
Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the 'niche' that represents half the people in the world. Mark my words, this book will be a bestseller.

Author Blurb Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person
Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research... This book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Quiet:
What a fascinating and well written study on the differences between introverts and extroverts and what goes in to making them that way. I believe anyone managing people in any capacity should read this book as well as parents who are raising ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Introverts and the Internet

I wasn't surprised when Susan Cain's book, Quiet, mentioned that introverted people often thrive in the online world and are actually more likely to share personal information there than extroverts. I, for example, though unquestionably an introvert, enjoy reviewing books for BookBrowse, have profiles on several social networking sites, and have written a blog; these are all comfortable outlets for me to explore and express my interests.

Many introverts communicate via the Internet for this reason, relishing the chance to pursue their passions and find like-minded people in a way that is friendly to their temperament. Likewise, online communication has also made information and discussion about introverts and introversion more ...

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