For week 19, I read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book has received rather a lot of press, especially (it seemed to me) from people asking why extroversion was so awful if the whole world loved it so much, and why did Cain think everyone should stop being outgoing and awesome? This only showed that most of the interviewers hadn’t read the book at all; or if they had, completely missed the point she was trying to make. The important point was not that people should be more introverted and loners, but that those who are introverts should continue to be introverts without shame, and extroverts should allow them to do so. Quite different from a manifesto against making small talk at cocktail parties or having friends at all, as certain articles subtly implied.
I actually had a bit of trouble writing a review for this book, right after finishing. I needed plenty of time to digest all that I’d read, and I desperately wanted to discuss it with people I know and whose opinions I trust, but no one I know had read it. My husband takes a long time to read books; not because he’s a slow reader, but because his method of stress relief involves video games, and he has a proper day job that frowns upon reading during work hours (as most of them do). I read the books whenever I feel like it, check them off my list, and write the review later, usually quite ahead of my self-imposed deadline. (At one point I was seven books ahead.) And then I forgot. Forgot! Forgot that I hadn’t actually written up the reviews for the last (mumblemumble) few books. (I’m forgetting a lot these days; yesterday I wore a butterfly-winged dress-up headband to the grocery store, quite unaware it was still on my head, only discovering it after my return home.)
At this point, however, I have had enough time to say this much: as I read the book, I continually pointed out passages and studies to my husband, who has a scientific background and is an introvert. That is a very good sign that it rings true. Learning about the cult of personality that developed in the 1950’s and 60’s was terribly interesting; I knew there had been a cultural shift, but switching from a focus on character to focus on personality is a big deal. I found the entire book enlightening, liberating (I hadn’t realized it, but I have always felt pressure to be more gregarious and internalized that pressure, with a predictable outcome of vague, unfocused resentment), and a little sad.
I think this book would be good not just for introverts to read, but also extroverts who love and are trying to live with introverts. It’s an excellent insight into the mind of the introverted without being angry or dismissive of extroverts, in my opinion.