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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - If you’ve ever felt guilty for wanting to stay home, instead of attending a party, or wish you could be more vocal and outgoing at work, this book is for you. Empowering and informative, Quiet is a revolutionary look at the power of introverts – and the strengths they contribute to society – through the lens of such unassuming leaders as Bill Gates and Rosa Parks. Narrator Kathe Mazur gets the pacing just right, leaving introverts and extroverts alike the time to listen and understand Cain’s power-packed gems. —Diana M.

Publisher's Summary

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 20th century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

©2012 Susan Cain (P)2012 Random House

Critic Reviews

"An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike." (Kirkus)
"Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off.-" (Publishers Weekly)
"An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are." (Booklist)

What members say

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One of the better of this genre...

I am not going to rave about this book, as others have, but I must say it is a thorough and thoughtful look into a personality type that has not entirely gotten a fair shake in American society. As I said, Cain does a better than usual job here in the pop psychology genre, though even as she seeks to escape two typical traps, she often enough falls in: 1) the overgeneralization of personality type a la Myers-Briggs and 2) the "feel-good-by association-you're-okay,-Vincent-Van-Gogh-was-just-like-you!" syndrome. The best parts of the book are where Cain is helping the reader to best utilize various aspects of personality, and fortunately, this make for the majority of the book.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Thought provoking and Uplifting.... A++++++++!!!!!

Every since I learnt what an introvert was I knew I was one but used to wonder how I thrived as well as I did in social situations at times. Susan Cain not only shed light on this concept but on so many things in this title. With an excellent combination of thought provoking narrative, uplifting message and downright honest truth I would suggest "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain to anyone.

I almost gave Kathe Mazur 4 stars for her narration instead of 5 stars but in true introvert fashion, I sat down and reanalyzed her performance in my mind and in the end found myself giving her 5 stars. I found that the reason I was going to give her 4 stars wasn't because she didn't do a downright AMAZING job it was because I thought the story and overall book itself deserved to be rated higher than the narration itself. That itself wouldn't be enough of a reason not to give the performance the 5 stars it deserved so choose to give her just that. She paced herself excellently, engaged you in the listening experience and gave you enough time to think and truly feel the story itself. I was very pleased and found myself engrossed by her narration.

The story itself is so well done I would propose anyone to listen this title if they want to in any way understand introversion (if they don't already and even if you do there is so much more that can be learned from this title). Susan Cain's case studies leaves you (provided you are an introvert) feeling so... understood which in the world of an introvert can be a rare occurrence. I grew up in a household filled with extroverts or persons far more of extroverted than myself and this title does a good job of explaining what I had experienced as well as provide some tips on how to essentially survive. I have learned so much from what this title has said I am completely bowled over! I wish I could give this aspect of the rating 10 stars instead of just 5!

This can be one of those books that get you to change your very mindset. As an extrovert I would assume it would help you to appreciate and value introverts more and also be a bit more aware of how to deal with the introverts in your life. As an introvert personally the book served to simply inspire me and make me feel downright proud to be an introvert with quirks and all! Truly an amazing book!

126 of 133 people found this review helpful

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Clamorous Praise for "Quiet"

Quiet will definitely be included in my list for the top nonfiction books of 2012. This is strong praise indeed, given that we are barely in May. The book is that good that I find it inconceivable that 10 other better nonfiction books will be published this year.

The strength of Quiet surprised me, as I went into reading the book a strong skeptic about the whole concept of personality types. I'm a sociologist, and I believe my bones that structure and situations determine behaviors as much as personality. I've also been unimpressed by either the reliability or validity of tests that purport to predict or explain behavior, such as the MBTI. Nor can I confidently report where I fall on the introvert / extrovert scale, and would have a hard time making this judgment about either my spouse or my children.

If you, like me, are skeptical of personality types then you are ideally suited to approach Quiet. Every page of Quiet contained for me some revelation that caused me to re-think and re-evaluate how I approach my relationships and my work, and how I interpret the actions of colleagues and family.

Cain's thesis is individuals vary on how we respond and react to stimuli. For some of us, external stimulus is energy giving and restorative. Other people may enjoy external stimulus, but interactions with other people subtract from the pool of psychic energy and can be depleting. Those people that we call "introverts" are those that expend energy in interactions, "extroverts" gain energy.

What Cain points out is that our schools and our workplaces have been moving to a state where only the skills and behaviors of extroverts are valued. We want our kids to be assertive and confident. We get worried if our children are reserved, dreamy and quiet. At work we all operate in teams. We look to our colleagues to speak up and to proactively contribute to our discussions and team projects. The vision of the open office, designed to ease collaboration and break down barriers to communication, has captured the imagination of many managers. (I know. I work in just such an open office plan).

Cain believes, and cites lots of evidence to support her ideas, that our efforts to construct our schools and workplaces around only extroverts are counterproductive to our organizations and damaging to individuals. Families, schools and workplaces can be better off with a mix of personality types and styles. We need to design classrooms and workplaces that honor the needs of our colleagues for quiet focus and intensive solo pursuits.

Quiet is one of those books that is so beautifully written and so persuasively argued that one wants to convince everyone else to read along and discuss its conclusions. Sometimes I fantasize about having the sort of wealth that would allow me to hand out books to everyone I come across. Quiet tops my list of books to share so far in 2012.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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Wrongs kids in the resource room?

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.

88 of 95 people found this review helpful

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insightfull, thoughtfull and fun

Where does Quiet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is by far the best non-fiction book I've read in a very long time. Working as a manager of a software firm - I've long known that the best developers, the silent type, thrieve in solitude and letting them be alone will get you the best results. At the same time I've often wanted to foster better team spirit with open landscape seating etc. This book got me thinking and reflecting on both my workplace and friends & family around me.

The perfomance truly matches the sense and meaning of the book - so even thou it's a bit too slow for me it really works.

What other book might you compare Quiet to and why?

The Social Animal - also a book about our interactions with other people.

Which scene was your favorite?

The part about Woz working for HP.

If you could give Quiet a new subtitle, what would it be?

Introverts - a guide

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Stop feeling bad about being introverted!

Susan Cain informs us that one in three people are introverts and helps us understand that that's ok. Those with "inner directed" personalities have much to offer (indeed, have made some of the biggest contributions to human culture), and are able to experience the world in ways that extroverts are simply not wired to do. Cain also shows how being an introvert may put one at a disadvantage professionally and socially, but offers hope that such disadvantages can be overcome or even turned on their head when the traits of introversion are turned into an advantage. Quiet, reserve, thoughtfulness, and patience can bring balance and depth to relationships and advantage in negotiations.
My partner and I both saw ourselves in the portrait of introversion Cain expertly paints for the reader. We highly recommend this book to all introverts and to anyone who wants to understand this style of being.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Almost a religious experience!

What made the experience of listening to Quiet the most enjoyable?

If your preference is usually a book or movie than a party, if people have always labeled you 'anti-social' but the phrase doesn't really fit, if you spend considerably more time listening than speaking; then this book will confirm you as a viable and 'normal' person. I have never in my life felt better understood than by this author.

Any additional comments?

The reader, Kathe Mazur, was the perfect choice, spot on!

46 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Dina
  • LAKE ZURICH, IL, United States
  • 03-24-12

Finally Feel Understood

I'm so glad that Susan Cain wrote this book. I've always known I was an introvert, but living in an extroverted world has always been frustrating for me. What Cain offers is the opportunity to stop apologizing for who you are and permission to feel comfortable in your own skin. I now understand how my extroverted mother and ex-spouse had such difficulty understanding me. And, how tough it still is to live in a world that expects introverts to participate in our culture like extroverts.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • kimberly
  • claremont, CA, United States
  • 02-04-12

Thought provoking

This is a thought-provoking book about introverts and extroverts, and what makes each personality type tick. It is useful knowledge since everyone is in one camp or the other (albeit to varying degrees).

I read in a previous review that the book was politically left (to the irritation of the reviewer). But, although the statement was fresh in my mind, I couldn't find any evidence of a political leaning. Yes, there is mention of Rosa Parks and Obama, but not in a political sense...just in relation to the topic at hand.

The reader is excellent.

76 of 84 people found this review helpful

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Confidence booster for introverts their parents

I thought long about whether I should give this book 4 or 5 stars because there were certain aspect of the book that I did not like. Some central assertions were based almost entirely on anecdotes. I realize that it is a powerful way to drive home your message, but it can also be disingenuous - appealing to people’s emotion. I was also not very pleased with Cain’s description of the neuroscience. She made it seem as though the almond sized amygdala was all there was in the brain and that whether or not this part of the brain lit up under certain circumstances was all important. Yes, yes, I am a cerebellar scientist and am therefore probably overreacting here, but I would have preferred that the neuroscience was left out instead of receiving this very biased account.

Ok, enough of the bad stuff. I did after all give this book 5 stars (which is rare for me). The reason for this is that this book is one of few books I have read in my life that really made me see things, especially myself, in a new light. While I consider myself to be a rather social person who gets along with others I also have many introvert traits. During my time at University I really did not like the weekends because I felt that I had to go out and drink and dance not to be considered strange. I have also always been a little bit ashamed that I can be a “coward”. At least that is how I would have described it to myself before reading this book. Now I prefer to use the terms cautious. I am also a highly adaptable person and I can to some extent transform my behavior based on the circumstances. Again, before reading this book I saw this as being a disingenuous person. After all, you should be who you are and stand up for your ideals no matter what the circumstances, right? While I used to think this I do not anymore. It would be absolutely terrible if everyone spoke their mind all the time. The world needs people who can work in different circumstances, people like me. I guess what I am trying to say in this paragraph is that before I read this book I had consciously and unconsciously bought the extrovert ideal that is so prevalent in our society. I had seen all my introvert traits as weaknesses that I had to combat and conceal. This book made me see that these traits can work to my advantage and it helped me find the proper middle ground where I can better assess my own personality, my strengths and my weaknesses. If you are also an introvert or have introvert kids I really really think you should read this book!

Overall the book is well structures, easy to read and of a good length. Cain starts out by describing the extrovert ideal. To drive this message home (though I think it is a fairly obvious point) she describes a day at a Tony Robbins event where everyone is dancing, speaking with deep confident voices, doing high fives and walking on coal etc. Cain, who is an introvert feels awkward under these circumstances (as would I), and she is not ashamed of it. She states what should be obvious but strangely isn’t, that the world needs people with different qualities. Indeed, under certain circumstances it is better to be more quiet and less assertive. According to studies Cain describes bosses with highly skilled employees are better of if they are introverts, probably because being more quiet allows them to better harvest the qualities and ideas of the employees. Cain also talks about the power of working alone. As one illustrative example, take brainstorming which is normally done in small groups. Actually studies show that you get a better brainstorm if people are allowed to come up with ideas on their own which are later pooled. In certain situations, a group of people can be a constraint rather than a benefit. She also brings up several examples which have been founded by introverts such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Though these are huge companies it is hard to tell whether these examples are representative of the overall picture. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that qualities such as cautiousness, empathy and conscientiousness can be very good qualities to have in some companies. Cain suggests that in some cases introverts can even hold aggressive stances in negotiations because they are less likely to antagonize the other part the way an extrovert outspoken person might.

In the remainder of the book Cain writes about the nature nurture debate (it bothered me that she seems to presume that free will exists, but I forgive her), and about different examples where temperament mattered (ex Wall street crash). The last three chapters serve as a type of guide to introverts and to parents of introverts. What types of conflicts tend to happen between introverts and extroverts and how should these be solved? What strategies can introverts use to avoid falling off the earth altogether? To what extent do you push your introvert child to do extrovert things such as hold presentations? Cain suggest sensible answers to all of these questions and I think that many people would benefit from reading this, and they are genuinely encouraging to introverts and parents of introvert children. I found it encouraging for instance that introvert children are influenced by their parents more than extrovert children. Thus introvert children will benefit more from good parenting than extrovert children (which is nice to know if you are indeed a good parent).

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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