Book Review: Quiet

What did I expect? Quiet by Susan Cain was billed as a series of stories of the impact that Introverts made in our society. She worked twenty years on this book, and it shows by her in-depth research. But it was more like a scientific study—brittle—and I truly struggled to read this.

The reason I rated it three stars and not two, or even one is because of the research. But how much scientific research does one want to read about the subject? Give me more about Rosa Parks or Tony Robbins. Don’t tell me why we are introverted or what people have discovered about group studies versus individual studies—tell me about the impact past introverts have made in history.

I am both an introvert and an extrovert. There are disadvantages to both. No one group is better than the other. In fact, it’s not a bad idea for introverts to learn how to overcome their shortcomings in order to reach another person one-on-one. It’s also not a bad idea for extroverts to learn how to be quiet. The truth is I didn’t like this book. The way it was organized with an introduction that was too long peppered by unnecessary footnotes made reading this book a real struggle. In fact, so much so that I didn’t finish it.

I snapped it shut and threw the book on the side table. “I’m done. I can’t finish it.” I announced to my husband. If she were to do a speaking tour on this book, I might be interested, but reading an entire scientific study-like book on introverts is more than I can handle. Tell me about the people and the differences they made as introverts. Don’t tell me about Dr. So-So who discovered that group study influence was bad.

I hated group study as a child. In fact, I volunteered to do all the work in the group study so I wouldn’t have to work in a group. Our teacher caught on and gave me an A, then failed the rest of the group in the assignment. I fought it, asking for at least a C for them and me to get a B. I was very young, and ethics wasn’t a word I knew very well at that age.

Now I have learned how to work in a group when I have to, but I’m certainly no fan of group work. In the real world, introverts have to learn how to work with extroverts. Like Susan said of Rosa Parks; if not for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the extroverts who congregated in that tiny church to protest the arrest, Rosa Parks’ quiet dignity may have remained silent. But because of extroverts we hear about stories of introverts who made a difference while using their skill sets. I am giving my copy of this book to an introverted friend who first expressed interest in it when I posted the cover on my website. I hope she gets more out of this than I.

*Book given by Waterbrook-Multinomah to review.