My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain employs a smooth blend of anecdotes and layman’s summaries of scientific research to present a picture of both the history of America’s cultural attitudes toward and the current views and inquiries around introversion.
This book didn’t tell me anything about myself that I didn’t already know (I’m introverted and high reactive, prone to sound and light sensitivity when I’m tired or overwhelmed). However, knowing that this has been studied by scientists is comforting. When my niece inevitably falls victim to our extroversion-forward culture, and begins to doubt herself as others tell her it’s bad to be shy or sensitive, I’ll hand her this book and reassure her that she’s absolutely fine and capable the way she is.
I also already knew that open-office plans are garbage ideas that lead to higher stress levels and lower productivity rather than more effective collaboration. Cain’s evidence-based discussion on the true effectiveness of allowing people to study problems in solitary contemplation was satisfying to read, but ultimately made me sad and angry because I work in a large corporate environment that is already willfully ignoring this research in favor of the more cost-effective open office plan and the power-of-collaboration bandwagon to justify their position.
My truest enjoyment of this book is the glimpses into the inner lives and dramas of the scientists and ordinary people Cain interviewed and sketched in the pages. They came alive for me, and even days later I find myself thinking about them, wondering how they are doing as they make their way quietly through a loud world.