Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Where to begin? I really really liked this book. It was the kind of book that I could have finished in a couple of days but purposefully let it linger on my table a little longer just so I would have something to go back to, I didn't want the conversation to be over. And that's what it felt like, like I was having a conversation with someone who really got me.
In case it isn't already obvious, I'm an introvert. I have known I was an introvert since I first heard the word, I don't even remember when, maybe in junior high school? I seem to remember some aptitude test? Ah well, the memory is blurry but the sense of identity is not. Another concept Cain addresses is that of the "highly sensitive person". I found out about HSP a little less than ten years ago from a friend who is also HSP, the minute she began to describe the characteristics, I knew it was me and my life experiences made so much more sense. In fact, I would say my life has been improved knowing that I am both introverted and HSP.
The book itself is easy to read, she digests psychological research in a way that makes sense and enlightens, she puts the pieces together in a nice format covering everything from cultural expectations to hidden strengths to parenting/education advice for introverted children. Of course, the book is written from an American cultural experience, she does have one chapter dedicated to Asian cultures (which she describes as more introvert focused), which in my opinion may have been the weakest chapter only because she makes some pretty broad and stereotypical observations of the Asian cultural experience.
But my least favorite passage of all was a paragraph were she summarizes one researcher's notion that perhaps Disney animators were somehow tuned into blond hair/blue eyed people being more sensitive and that is why the heroines appear that way and the villains have dark features... Uh, I don't think so. I think that had more to do with a long history of racism and colonialism in this country that impacts our perspective of who is "good" and "right" and "beautiful"-- But that's another issue all together.
Aside from that horrible offense, the rest of the book is pure awesomeness from my perspective. I highly recommend it for anyone who is introverted and in need of some validation, as well as an extrovert looking to understand how others may experience the world. I also really appreciated that she included a section on raising/teaching introverted children. As a parent, it's helped me to look at my own son a little differently, think about how he experiences things and the best ways I can support his learning and socialization.
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