Good Bedtime Reads
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Posted by: Lena Dohlman, MD, MPH
GOOD BEDTIME READS BOOK REVIEW
Quiet by Susan Cain
Published by Random House
Reviewed by Lena Dohlman, MD, MPH
If the book Quiet were made into a movie, it might be called the Revenge of the Introverts. The author, Susan Cain, is a competent, Harvard-trained lawyer who feels out of her element as an introvert surrounded by her extrovert partners. She takes on the role of social scientist in an effort to better understand herself and the role of introverts in American society. The book Quiet is the result of her investigation and reflection.
Susan Cain educates us about the important place introverts have in our extrovert-loving society and manages to entertain us at the same time. Her book made the New York Times Bestseller List. Its scholarly aspects will make you rethink the way you interact with students and colleagues and will make you question some long held beliefs (networking is not as good at producing ideas as you have been taught). She intersperses personal stories (some poignant and others amusing) with results of social research on the place of introverts and extroverts in American society. She makes suggestions on how an introvert might adapt in a country that has traditionally placed more value on extroverts. Many useful tips are given on how an introvert can be a successful leader, a highly rated lecturer and educator, and still stay true to their character. The author even gives parents and teachers advice on how to aid children who are introverts to become future productive and confident citizens. Most of the ideas in the book are backed up by neuropsychological studies, results of interviews or based on personal experiences in a way that keeps it from being too “heavy” a read.
The book starts off with a look back at how extroversion became the cultural ideal in the U.S. It includes the story of how Dale Carnegie, a skinny, fearful and poverty stricken farmboy became a charismatic public-speaking icon and the role he played in changing American culture from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. You will learn about the many famous people (President Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa, among others) who have signed up to be coached towards the extrovert ideal by self-help guru, Tony Robbins. The book discusses the power of working alone to come up with creative ideas and gives evidence that the popular “brainstorming” or groupthink can be counterproductive. Susan discusses nature versus nurture and the role each plays in the extrovert versus introvert temperament. One chapter starts off with a description of the author the night before she has to give a speech. When I was reading this chapter the first time I laughed so hard I woke my husband up. The author includes fascinating examples of the roles of introverts versus extroverts in history, politics and business. One of her chapters which might be of special interest to some of our “quieter” SEA members was, “When should you act more extroverted?”
Quiet is a “feel good” book for anyone who might have felt inadequate because giving speeches makes them nervous, or because they would rather stay home and read a good book than network at a party. If you want a refreshing look at the role of introverts in American society, this book will give you new insight while also entertaining you. It is 270 pages long and perfect for reading in bed, a chapter at a time (make sure your partner has ear plugs).