Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

 cainQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Susan Cain

368 pages

Published in January 2013 by Broadway

Source: Bought it

If it wasn’t for a Twitter chat a few months ago, I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to read Quiet just yet. Don’t get me wrong. It was already on my reading list but there are so many books to read and well, not enough time. It’s a good thing for me that Joy (Joy’s Book Blog) decided to host an online discussion about this book.

In Quiet, Susan Cain describes just what makes introverts who they are. She describes the difference between being introverted and being shy; being introverted is the preference for quiet environments while being shy is a fear of being humiliated or feeling disapproval in public. Using some of the latest psychological research, she also shows how stimulation and biology has a lot to do with whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with society’s focus on extroversion as an ideal and includes a quiz for readers to see where they stand on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. The second part deals with biology and how much of it influences our environmental preferences. Part three describes the Asian American experience in America while part four bring it altogether with work and relationship preferences.

As an introvert, it was nice to learn more about the differences between the two preferences. Cain writes about how “the culture of personality” in America has blossomed and changed what American society values. In the early 1900s, there was a shift from individuals having character to having an extroverted personality. We still discuss and praise people with character like Warren Buffet and George Clooney for the charity work they do but the people that stay on the tongue of society are people who talk first and think later. Not every extrovert acts this way though.

I also learned about the orchid hypothesis. Some kids are orchids and need a lot of time and attention while other children can bloom anywhere they’re planted. It made me realize that my oldest and youngest are definitely orchid kids. I knew that but I didn’t have a name for it. If you have a quiet child, I think the chapter you really should read is chapter 11 which is all about bringing out the best in introverted kids.

Cain, while praising the strengths of introverts also shows how both personalities can stretch to act more like the other. But she admits human beings are rubber bands and are able to stretch only so far. I found Quiet to be well-written and greatly researched. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Here’s Susan Cain’s TedTalk called The Power of Introverts


About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
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20 Responses to Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

  1. I’m bummed that I didn’t get my copy of the book from the library in time to participate in the readalong, but after reading the comments and reviews I’m definitely inspired to read it when it finally gets here!

  2. I hadn’t seen the TED talk — cool!

    I’m so glad to get your perspective as a parent on this. I think this book can really do some good in the world if it helps parents work with their quiet kids to help them blossom like orchids!

  3. bookworm says:

    It sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it. Great review! It seems like an enlightening read.

  4. It’s on my list too and, like Ali, I’m bummed that my library copy didn’t arrive on time to read it with you guys. I’m an extrovert but my husband is an introvert and sometimes it’s hard for me to understand him.

  5. whatsheread says:

    I loved this book. I felt so validated for being deliberate in decision-making and in everything else I do. Having two extroverted children however, I do wish she would have touched on that. Trying to relate to extroverted kids as an extreme introvert is definitely a challenge! Good thing my husband is an extreme extrovert, so we do balance each other out. Still, I definitely want him to read this book so that he can understand me just a bit better. I’m so glad you enjoyed this as much as I did!

    • Vasilly says:

      M, I have two extroverted kids too! It’s been hard to understand them but reading this book showed me a lot. Now I know I need to be more willing to take my extroverted kids out more often even though I would rather stay at home. My ex is an extrovert and it was very hard for me to understand him. The next person I date will definitely be an introvert. 😉

      • Michelle says:

        Oh, my husband and I actually work well together. He prevents me from being a complete hermit, and I calm him down. It works for us, but it definitely requires stepping outside of your comfort zones at times, but we try to find that balance.

  6. This sounds like a fascinating book. I think it’s about time we start valuing people for who they are and not try to mold them into something else.

  7. Gavin says:

    I just finished this and handed it off to a friend who will hand it off to another friend. It was so affirming:) I loved the parts about the great strengths held by both introverts and extroverts, the amount of variation available to both and the need for understanding in the classroom.

  8. heidenkind says:

    I got this book from the library months ago but had to return it before I had a chance to read it. =/

  9. Care says:

    I agree this book sounds fascinating and i think I have it on my tbr, will check. Although… I think I have both tendencies. I always hate when people say I am so direct and outgoing because I force myself to enjoy the good things that result when I put myself ‘out there’ (like at a party or networking event) but I would much rather stay home!
    Thank you for the explanation of orchid kids. 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    I’m reading this one right now. I’m not very far into it, but I already know it’s doing to be good. Great review! (And thank you for the link to Cain’s TED talk!)

  11. Debi says:

    I most definitely have an orchid kiddo too! In fact, when a friend of mine was reading this book, he immediately emailed me to tell me all about the orchid hypothesis because he realized straight off that my older son fit the description perfectly. I really, really, really need to read this book. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  12. softdrink says:

    Yes! I loved this book so, so much. And you brought up a good point in mentioning this in relation to the BFF book I just read…I think the whole best friends thing is totally different for introverts. As a general rule I think we don’t have that same level of need for besties. I’m considering a follow up post to reply to all of the great points people brought up in the comments.

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  14. stacybuckeye says:

    I really do need to read this. I like quiet but love parties. I’m not so much an introvert as an only kid who was raised to appreciate her own space. Maybe this book would open my eyes in that regard!

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