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

Reviewed on , book by Susan Cain

I have a hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars. 3 stars because it alienates any extrovert picking up this book in the admirable pursuit of enhancing their understanding of introverts. Case in point, my girlfriend who feels the book is condescending at times towards extroverts like herself.

Then there are times where Quiet is ringing 5 stars, with stories that repeat scenarios most introverts face again and again. But presenting those guilt-inducing scenarios with the perspective it’s okay. This is normal, and you’re allowed to be yourself and behave this way.

I personally identify as an introvert, which was more apparent to the outside world when I was younger. Like many of the characters from this book, I’ve learned to take on an extroverted persona—but it’s exhausting to do for me for more than hours at a time. After a day of work, a night out, involving people I love being with, or a conference talk I’m absolutely exhausted. Most people I meet nowadays run into the extroverted persona (because that’s where I make friends), but my close friends all know that I am usually the first to leave, and that I might pass on something even if the alternative is sitting alone at home. I always feel so incredibly guilty, but I also can’t always do things I don’t want to do—and sometimes I do really want to hang out with people, and sometimes I just don’t. Sometimes the best thing I know is a weekend where I don’t talk to a single person, but just tend go deep into something. Sometimes that’d make me feel isolated.

This book made me realize that these oscillations on the introvert-extrovert continuum are perfectly normal, which was a revelation to me. It’s helped develop my vocabulary of how to explain myself to myself, and to others. This is worth 5 stars. I’m angry at this book to some extent, because it was so good in helping me realize many things about myself—but it’s so poor at not offending people who are not this way. It’s not a book I can’t pass to people without a giant disclaimer, which is a shame.