Five years ago, a book called Quiet was published. It made a bit of a noise in the world at the time, and I heard the noise and picked up a copy that very year. I finally read it in the last few days. To be honest, the motivating factor behind me actually picking up the book and reading it was this blog entry. I intended to use Q to write about quiet, because I’m an introvert, known to be quiet and to prefer quiet zones, known to exit crowded social situations as quickly as possible. I am everybody the book Quiet was written for. But I hadn’t read it yet. Why? Because of a review. Somehow, in my head, I merged the review with the book and thought I’d read the first couple of pages and thought, ergh, this will be more work than it might be worth. But, it turns out, I was mistaken. My memory did tricky things (as memories are known to do) and attributed the review (which wasn’t enticing) with the book itself.
Susan Cain wrote Quiet and she did a marvelous job. The subtitle (The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) suits the material very well. Cain describes the World That Can’t Stop Talking very well, examines why this might be the case, and how introverts get lost in this world. She also looks at reasons introverts should be heard, despite their quiet voices, and the power that introverts have in their quiet ways.
Despite the fact that the book has been on my to be read pile for five years, reading it now has been a good thing for me. I’m presently working from home and many days have no conversation except online or with strangers who are selling me groceries or coffee. In this quiet interval, Quiet provides ways for me to re-think the way I am in company. Do I need to pretend to be an extrovert in every situation? When and how can I best do that? When is the quiet too much? Then there are questions for how I am in my professional world: How do academics (mostly introverts) talk to each other well in all the quiet of their world? How do we teach well, so that both introverts and extroverts learn? So many questions for quiet contemplation.
If you are an introvert living in this extroverted culture, pick up Cain’s book. She’s got things to say. There’s also a TED talk if you want a condensed overview.