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The Power of Quiet
Written by Laura Brandaos
About the Author >>>
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
Review by Peter Wietmarschen
Let me start my book review and take you behind the veil for a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at how these articles come to fruition. Putting together these magazines is a monumental task. Our editors, Candy and Colleen, are busy creating our calendar, wrangling in writers, reaching out to advertisers, and much more. Their jobs are the perfect example of excelling at an extrovert’s job.

On the other hand, writers like myself must take time alone as we write and edit our articles to send out for publication. What we do has long been associated with the work of introverts. Publishing each issue of our magazines is a great example of the interconnected nature of extroverts and introverts.

This month’s review is on Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Growing up, I was always involved in sports, music, and clubs. In grade school, there were years I would play on five teams. I’ve played saxophone in the band for close to 20 years. I am an Eagle Scout. I have served on the board of The Pride, an FC Cincinnati soccer supporters’ group. All of these activities are generally thought of as quite extroverted activities, but there has always been a part of me who craves a good book or a funny movie at the end of the day.
A few years ago, I was working with family friends (whom I met through high school band) at their book fair (and if you’re around my age, you’ll remember the best day of the school year was when the book fair came to school!) when I came across this new book on our shelves titled Quiet. As I mentioned above, I have always felt at home being by myself, and this book stood out to me as a way to explore my introverted tendencies.
As the busy person I was then, I stuck this book on my Goodreads toread shelf and never really made the time to read it. This is the dilemma with being a reader; every time you find a good book to read, ten more pop up on your list. At the end of last year, I took a few moments to review my to-read list, made some adjustments, took a few titles off, added more books, and was reminded of the book, Quiet.
If you can’t tell, I have been conflicted internally about my extroverted vs. introverted nature. This book is the perfect excuse for me and you to explore our introverted tendencies and become aware of the hard work our introverted friends and colleagues undertake.
Susan Cain is a best-selling author, and in her bio, she states that she “prefer(s) listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings. I like to think before I speak (softly).” She then goes on to mention she dreams big and has audacious goals, but there is no conflict between her ambition and her quiet nature. Being in the arts, I wholeheartedly agree with this statement from her, “one of the best things in the world is that sublime moment when a writer, artist, or musician manages to express something you’ve always felt but never articulated, or at least never quite so beautifully.”
Quiet opens with an entire chapter on the dawn of extroversion. Susan Cain’s premise is, early in the 18th century, the world began to shift from a culture of character to a culture of personality. We now live in a culture celebrating the Extrovert Ideal: the omnipresent belief wherein the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. This mentality shift has turned introversion into near perversion. We have responded to societal pressures by becoming salesmen of ourselves.
I ask you to take a moment and consider who you celebrate in your everyday life and why you celebrate these people. When I say celebrate, I am talking about the people whose posts you share on social media, the subjects of our conversations, and the personalities we watch on YouTube. As Cain points out, many of these people are gregarious, self-identify as an alpha personality, and are obviously happy being in the spotlight. The age of social media and influencers, and content creation has put a premium on extroversion. Are these people who have good things to say, are they thoughtfully expressing their ideas, or are they people whom you follow because they lead a cult of personality?
Cain believes our cult of personality has left us in a position where careful and thought-out actions are no longer acceptable. The culture of personality has permeated all areas of life. Businesses are more likely to hire extroverts (or those who outwardly express extroverted ideals). Colleges and university admissions, looking to better prepare their students for the workforce, focus on bringing in more extroverted students.
With the exception of a few introverted icons, the Eleanor Roosevelts, Al Gores, Gandhis, and other notable introverts, our culture is focused on making everyone fit into the ideals of extroversion. Susan ends the first chapter with the question: “how did we go from character to personality without realizing we had sacrificed something meaningful along the way?”
Throughout the rest of the book, Cain explores her own answers to this question. There are many great examples of introverts who thrive. She answers psychology’s favorite question of nature versus nurture. She looks at cultures that do not fit into the culture of personality. And finally, she shares tips on how we can all work together.
As I read through this book, I looked back and realized a few things. First, I have seen firsthand how we raise our children to be extroverted. In my freshman year of college, we all had to take a public speaking class where we were required to give three speeches on various topics throughout the semester. Second, I believe I have grown more comfortable with my introverted side as I have grown older. I no longer have something scheduled every night of the week, and much prefer to be home and recharge more nights than not. Finally, I recognize both introverts and extroverts are needed in the world. Differences make the world go round. We must be vigilant to not fall into the cult of personality, and we must begin to refocus our culture to celebrate once again each of us as we come, whether an introvert or an extrovert.
The only real gripe I have with this book is something that naturally comes from writing. Introverts are the audience for this book, so if you are an extrovert you might feel a bit unwelcomed, in the beginning of the book. She is not calling extroverts bad or immoral or dangerous, but she does call out the Culture of Personality, and extroverts may not connect with her premise as much introverts.

I highly suggest everyone take time to read this book. I give this book 4.5 out of 5.
Written by Ray Befus
About the Author >>>
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