For those who dread, rather than anticipate, parties, crowds and other social events, "Quiet" will take you from "What's wrong with me?" to recognizing the complex social roles that the "shy" or "quiet" personalities play. Like me, you might end the book wondering why the hyper-social, extroverted kids aren't the ones sent to the Resource Room; perhaps their behavior could be modified to be less loud, more aware...?
Susan Cain's premise is that introverts have always gotten the message that there's something about them that needs fixing - or they're failing to meet certain social performance standards. But "Quiet" suggests that while Americans (and the world) enjoy outstanding benefits from quiet people, we also pay a high price for under-valuing them. (From the book-- how different Bill Clinton would be if he'd been pressured to conform to a "Bill Gates" personality or Bill Gates had been required to be more like Bill Clinton!) One of the best aspects of this book is how Cain zings in on introvert-specific traits (the ones even introverts view as quirky or fringy or even disordered) and demonstrates how absolutely critical they are to our progress in the arts and sciences.
"Quiet" is an especially timely book with the diagnosis of Asperger's and debilitating shyness and other spectrum "disorders" on the rise (and being behaviorally modified). It's naturally written and authoritative but there's no need (much) to buzz over scientific jargon. Cain makes a solid, entertaining argument that the introverted personality that we've all been conditioned to be concerned about, would be better off celebrated and cultivated. As an audio book, another 5 stars.
???Arguably??? is great but it is not of the ???god is Not Great??? genre; it's a choice selection of Christopher Hitchens??? own essays, and of a vaster scope than the global-fallout-from-religion that the 'god' title focuses on. It is riveting in just the same way, however, and the temptation to adopt Hitchens' lucid opinions as my own is also similar.
???Arguably??? covers a wild variety of topics. Some I may not have typically sought out but all are worth reading and for me, re-reading. It has introduced many intriguing new titles, authors and subjects for my to-read stack. I???ve kept the globe spinning and Wikipedia fired-up throughout; memorized a little of the Rubayat and seen Animal Farm acted out in many times and places. The political essays are more than a few ranks above my typical American understanding but my perceptions are a bit sharper for having read them anyway (and my position on torture is validated). His graphic, sumi-style images from his experiences in Viet Nam, Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and many more, are intense. While reading, (I also bought the print version for proper mulling over), I???ve lost my optimism for humankind a few times, and re-found it almost the same number.
If I had a complaint, it???s that, at 749 pages, it???s still too short. Thankfully, everything Hitchens has written is archived "somewhere". In all, ???Arguably??? is brilliant and it???s the perfect book for a reader who wants to level up a few.
It's true, Hitchens may mumble and he speaks with a British accent. To allow this to obscure the important ideas that he explores is a mistake. If it's sound ideas you're after, God is Not Great has more than can be absorbed in a single reading. The book is more than worthy of the minor effort.
I'm persuaded by God is Not Great that any good that religion may accomplish can be better achieved without religion and, conversely, the worst evils will arise from religious belief, as they always have.
Hitchens strengthens my view of religious faith as a barrier to clear thinking. It was refreshing to see his clinical treatment of religion in America, something Americans can't seem to do. The Mormons are one of his examples. Few in the US either know enough or have the nerve to discuss Joseph Smith as the sexual predator and con man that history shows him to be, or analyze the timely "revelations" that have kept the Mormons clinging to the fringes of viability through the years. The Mormons are only one of the book's examples of how fast a religion can spring from a fertile mind and spread to infect millions. Hitchens makes a good case that we in America are uniquely susceptible to such charlatans (although England's new relationship with Islam would make equally fascinating reading).
Those who are religious merely out of habit or a failure of introspection may be the ones to embrace the rationale of 'God is Not Great' most easily. The grimly devout will probably respond to Hitchens' ideas with the usual vitriol. They may rightly sense the inherent threat that such rational treatment of the 3 main religions' histories poses.
I ended the book seeing that we're in a bit of a Dark Age and won't be free until the majority see religious thinking as the human invention that it is, and the devout minority are relegated to the same status as conspiracy theorists and UFO seekers.
I am currently listening to books that help me better understand the impact of the Internet on our lives. Though we will not understand the impact of the Internet for years to come, "The Shallows" aptly contributes to that understanding. I has pleased to see that this book was a thoughtful, patient, and informed presentation.
Essentially, Carr suggests that our ability to focus, concentrate and think is being altered in ways we are yet to understand. Hence, we are being pushed into the intellectual "shallows." Multitasking is not necessarily helpful to learning and understanding. Data does not necessarily equal wisdom. We are not as reflective as we need to be. I suppose that if you believe that tools determine behavior or if you believe behavior determines the use of tools will determine if you encounter the Internet with optimism or pessimism.
Thoughtfully written and Garcia’s reading is great.