Quiet: The Power of Introverts (mini review)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking has been on my reading list for years. I finally got around to reading it and it was worth the wait. There was a period a while back when it felt as if everyone was talking about this book (heh, the irony), Today “quiet” has an amazing 5,110 reviews on Amazon. This means there are more people who have shared an opinion on this book (at least on Amazon) than Outliers, The Catcher in the Rye, Guns Germs and Steel and Animal Farm.

This also means is that there’s a very small chance I can offer any insight into this book that hasn’t already been written so I’ll be brief.

Q: What’s an introvert?

Being an introvert does not mean shy (which suggests a fear of social judgement). Cain’s definition is that introverts

have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment

Another dictionary definition is:

a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.

A friend of mine who self identifies as an introvert (but many mistake an extrovert) explains it simply as “I get energy from being alone whereas an extrovert gets energy from being around people”. This is the thing about introvert / extroverts — you can’t always tell which end of the spectrum someone falls because it’s an internal thing. It’s as much about how someone feels and where they get energy as how they appear.

Q: Should I read this book?

If you are an introvert, yes most definitely. You will hear that the extrovert ideal is not something to be universally aspired to and will find encouragement and a guide to embrace your unique strengths. If you are an extrovert, the answer is also “read this book”. This will be enlightening and an exercise in empathy for what is estimated to be 30–50% of the population.

For me, I believe I somewhere in the middle of the introvert / extrovert spectrum (this is a thing — “ambivert”). I crave and am recharged by long road trips filled with solitude, yet I’m also drawn to conversation, tight knit groups of people and regular interactions. Sometimes this means I get the best of both worlds, yet very often I’ll miscalibrate and I’ll exhaust myself.

It really is a great book, rich in research, insight and relatable personal stories. And while Cain is a deep introvert, I didn’t find her vilifying the “other side”. It’s relevant for all aspects of social life (both professional and personal) and I’ll be recommending it for many years to come.

Q: No time to read?

No time to read but still have twenty minutes? Watch the TED Talk: