My Goodreads Book Review of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain

Posted: January 20, 2015 in graffiti living, reviews
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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For a book that’s about introverts, by an introvert and for introverts, it sure does go on about extroverts.

As an introvert, I wanted to read a book about how introverts can survive in an extrovert world. But more than half the book is given over to explaining why extroverts are favoured in school, business, sport, mating, society and the world at large.

The scientific research is interesting but intermixed with the most baffling claptrap that seems to be symptomatic of ‘turns out’ journalism. The book opens with Rosa Parks and closes with Charlie Brown.

Much of it read like it had come from the same cookie-cutter mould as any number of American self-help books. I even started to check off the usual suspects in my head.

For example let’s:

  • Address the audience as America, talk about America as if it’s the world and America is the sole subject of the book. Because we Americans as Americans must America, America, America.

  • Cite Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus as the bravery of one person acting alone (Rosa Parks was a remarkable woman but this version of events is wildly historically inaccurate)

  • Quip that the apple wouldn’t have fallen on Isaac Newton’s head, if he wasn’t an introvert, as he wouldn’t have been sitting under the tree (this story is apocryphal and the apple incident never happened)

  • Talk about characters from the bible as though they’re actual historical figures

  • Use unscientific case studies and composite examples of ‘real people’ as universal proof

  • Throw in anecdotes about American presidents, business men and celebrities

  • Use the phrase ‘It turns out’ repeatedly to introduce whatever whacky notions we’ve decided to assert

Maybe I’m just sick to the back-teeth of reading American self-help books. But the further into the book I got the more my heart sank as I realised it contained little of practical use to introverts.

There’s a chapter on how to raise introverted kids, and a lot of lip-service paid to the unique qualities of introverts, but very few survival strategies and almost no advice on how to make the best use of your introverted nature.

There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert and introverts shouldn’t have to pretend to be more like extroverts to get on in the world.

This book is important insofar as it gets people talking about introversion at all. But if you’re an introvert it’s probably of more use to the extrovert in your life than to you — unless you beat them over the head with it to get them to be quiet whilst you read.

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