Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Book Review)

As an introvert, I was eager to read Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  In this book, the author condenses research findings, relates history, and introduces individuals to explain what makes people introverted and why society--especially in the United States--doesn't appreciate the quiet among us.

I was most fascinated to read about America's transition from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality.  (This concept was not originated by this author, but it's the first time I've read it.)  Up to about 1900, the ideal person was serious, disciplined, and honorable:  character traits that anyone could, with work, improve.  But with the rise of industry and the shift of population into cities over the next decades, we transitioned into a Culture of Personality.  What became valued were personality descriptors like magnetic, attractive, and forceful.  These not only define extroverts, but are traits that we are born with--or not.

Quiet turned out to be not what I expected.  The research, though it won't help introverts cope in a culture that does not value them, was very interesting.  The book does contain some helps for introverts, but that's maybe one-third of the book.  Whether you'll like it depends on what you're looking for.

I should note that Quiet is written for the secular market.  It contains a few mild expletives and quite a few references to evolution.  One of the notes at the end of the book is negative about the men who were prominent in the First and Second Great Awakenings and today's megachurch pastors.

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Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.  All opinions in this review are my own.

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