Beyond a Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

Yes, the second book review in a row about introverts.

It seems I can’t really leave the topic of introversion versus extroversion yet. In some ways, I suppose I have never really left it. At five years old, I remember thinking that I spent so much more time playing make believe by myself than I did when I was four and we lived in a different town. At writing camp during high school, I wrote about the perfect pairing of introversion and extroversion in many different poems–and those seemed to be the ones my instructors were most excited to discuss. This summer I’ve been called to read not one, but two books now about introversion (first was The Introvert’s Way and now I’m on to the bigger, more well-known Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking).

Like many other books I’ve read this summer, I feel this one yet again comes to me at the right time. I race through its pages mostly saying, “Yes . . . yes . . . that’s me . . . Yes! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me it was okay to be this way?” I also realize that I practice a lot of the deliberate practice and flow that it encourages. Some of my favorite activities, the ones I take refuge in after a long day at work and, more importantly, the ones I’ve written about on this blog, have to do with entering a space where my more introspective, introverted mind can wander free. And create . . .

If you’re considering reading either of these books, I would say that Dembling’s The Introvert’s Way is more encouraging and includes more general anecdotes. If you want to go in depth and get all the psychology studies and history behind these two personalities, then go for Cain’s Quiet. To me, they are perfect when read together. So far, they complement each other and build upon each other’s topics. Most importantly, they prove the point that even though people can be grouped based on these temperaments, not all introverts are the same. The biggest example I can find so far is that Dembling talks a lot about how public speaking is freeing for her and many introverts in a way that small talk is not because they feel in control when giving a speech or a presentation. But the second chapter and section of Quiet kicks off with Cain’s account of her first big speech as an adult and how because of it she almost vowed to never give a speech in her life again.

To me, this is freeing because it means that I can still claim my identity as an introvert even if I find myself disagreeing with some of the points either author makes. In the end, it comes down to my inner personality and only I can define that.

As I take my first steps into the “real world” after college, I find it extremely useful to think about who I am and in what conditions I work best. I think it’s something everyone should do, no matter age or phase in life. Then again, I’m an introspective person and reading these two books is no feat for a bookworm like me (I’m getting them from the library I’m working at, after all). So if that isn’t your cup of tea, maybe just listen to Susan Cain’s TED talk on the subject.


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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