Quiet by Susan Cain


I am reading Quiet  by Susan Cain.  So far I have read the introduction and the first chapter.

In the introduction Cain asserts we are in an extrovert world.  She suggests that in the book we will learn something of the power of introversion.  The introductions includes use Rosa Parks actions that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott as one example of the power of an introvert.  She seemed to use a mythic version of the history of the event rather than the real details to make her point.  A second anecdote which I found more convincing told of Cain’s experience helping a company reach a debt resettlement in which the opposing lawyers are extreme extroverts.

The first chapter tells how the idea of personality just developed in the last 300 years- especially in the last 120 years or so.  She points out that in the mid-nineteenth century being humble was highly valued while by the mid-20th Century shyness was considered a personality disorder and fear of public speaking was considered a disease if it interfered with your work.  Harvard and Yale even went on record as preferring student who were well rounded with good marks over those students with great academic marks.

I’m not very far into the book and I think I won’t agree with everything Cain writes.  Her voice as she writes the book is very entertaining, however.  I don’t think I will regret the purchase.  And I think I will learn things and it will remind me to have more sympathy for less outgoing students and colleagues.  I may even end up celebrating my roots as an introvert who can fake extroversion as needed.

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