Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Neuroscience, the psychology of social conditioning, cultural paradigms, groupthink, the makings of successful businesspeople and leaders—all of these things come together in Susan Cain’s ultra-deep dive into introversion. Cain digs into studies, conducts her own on-the-ground research, and delves into her own experience as a consultant and, wait for it, introvert to expose what might be/probably is happening inside introverts’ brains in those contexts where they seem withdrawn and the others where they seem on fire.

As an introvert, I found this book both fascinating and confirming. Cain’s discussion of high-reactivity, elevated sensitivity, and sensory overload matched up with my own experience. A lot of the observations she shares in terms of balancing commitments with your available social energy are things I’ve learned on my own, particularly over the last few years.

Although the title may lead you to think this book is a constant slam on extroversion, it’s not. Cain points out the ways that modern Western society elevates extroversion and the blind spots that come with it (just because someone is the loudest person in the room—and thus, has everyone’s ear—doesn’t mean they have the best ideas), and she shows how making room for quiet people to contribute in a way that suits their temperament is beneficial for all. She also delves into how introverts can pass for extroverts and how sometimes that’s necessary, whether to get ideas into the world or accomplish a particular goal.

Quiet is a medium-length book as nonfiction goes and it’s rich with information, but it’s not dense and boring. Cain’s writing pairs a wealth of anecdotes with insightful information that frequently sparked my neural lightbulbs. And she writes to the everyday reader. Anyone who’s an introvert or extrovert or ambivert (i.e., everyone) and wants to better understand how they operate in the world—and how others of different temperaments operate—should pick up a copy.

View all my reviews.

Good Reads: Bionic achievements, hitchhiking moms, and rapping Christians

This is part of a semi-weekly series recommending interesting and well-written longform/narrative nonfiction articles.

This week’s picks:

The Dream Kickoff by Danielle Elliot, Grantland

Paralyzed. Not forever but long enough for walking to seem an eternal impossibility. Enter Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian neuroscientist with a passion to bring the paralyzed to their feet using an exoskeleton controlled by their brains. The goal: for one paralytic to kick off the 2014 World Cup. (Spoiler alert: They succeeded.)

(Not) A Runner’s Story: Three Miles A Marathon by Rickey Gates, TrailRunner

A half century ago, Rickey Gates’ mother hitchhiked from New York to Alaska and took second in a race running Mount Marathon. She was one of two runners and said it was fun. Last year, Rickey Gates retraced her steps. The resulting piece is an enjoyable narrative exploring the history of the race and how running is really another form of travel.

Andy Mineo Raps About Christ. Just Don’t Call Him a Christian Rapper. by Corrie Mitchell, Narrative.ly

The origin story of Any Mineo, a rap artist who also happens to be a Christian, and who seeks to meet the unsaved where they are. (If you want an idea of my thoughts on being a Christian artist, this will give you an idea. To quote Mineo: “Hip-hop itself is not evil, it’s just been the way that we’ve decided to use it . . . But that’s why we’re here, to try to shift the culture, to try to change it, to redeem a good art form that God has created and allowed us to use.”)

And if you’re too tired/lazy/impatient to read, check this out:

The Space Between (video) by Drew and Chelsea Mose, Narrative.ly

A short documentary about Maureen Seaberg, an author who has a rare neurological condition called Synesthesia (which I wrote about in high school after reading A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass).

What have you been reading?