Friday, 14 March 2014

Book review - Quiet by Susan Cain

I'm a member of the Britmums Book Club, and the latest book that we've been reading is Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking by Susan Cain (affiliate link)

Book review - Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking

I was very keen to read this book. I've always identified myself as an introvert, with a certain amount of social anxiety and a personality type that is often overshadowed by more extroverted peers. As the blurb to the book reads, I often feel as though 'the loudest have taken over - even if they have nothing to say'. That is one of the central ideas in this book - that our society favours those who are extroverts, with schools and offices designed around the ways of working and workspaces that suit them. This makes them uncomfortable spaces for introverts, meaning that they are not easily able to express their opinions and thus their input is not taken into account, to their detriment.

I don't like to brand myself as a complete introvert, as it is very much a sliding scale. But I feel that I definitely do display more introverted than extroverted tendencies, and you can assess yourself in a short quiz at the start of the book.

You need to concentrate while you're reading this book, and there is so much to take in that I think it will definitely take a second reading to assimilate all the information. You can see from the photo above that I was busy sticking bookmarks into all the chapters that caught my eye! For example, I enjoyed reading about the concept of "restorative niches". This is a term coined by Professor Brian Little, a former Harvard University psychology lecturer and speaker in the field of personality and motivational psychology. A restorative niche is the term for the place that you go when you want to return to your true self. As an introvert I need to make sure that I create these spaces for myself in my daily life, both physically and emotionally, which can be difficult when I spend my days dealing with the needs of two small children and then wanting to spend time with my husband in the evenings. I've realised that I do make a conscious effort to build my alone time into my day, often by going up to bed early in the evening for a bath or to read for a while. It's more difficult with the children around during the day, although I'm lucky enough to enjoy two mornings a week while they are both at nursery and school, and I definitely do feel frazzled by the end of the day if I've not had time to myself to sit and think, or "be alone inside my head for a bit" as I call it.

I was also interested to read a case study of an introvert-extrovert couple, as that is often how I see my relationship. In the case study, the husband wants to host regular dinner parties and social events, whereas his wife hates these occasions and just wants to stay at home and enjoy some quiet time. The book discusses why the two of them feel the way that they do, and how they are able to reach a compromise that suits them both. I know he won't, but I would love my husband to read this book too so that he might understand our differences a little more.

There are also some really useful tips for dealing with introverted children, many of which I've found that I utilise automatically when dealing with Harry in particular, who is quite a sensitive child. It's difficult to tell with Mia as she's that bit younger, but I do often feel that personality-wise Harry takes after me and Mia takes after Ram. I'll be re-reading this section as they grow older.

I'll leave you with my absolutely favourite quote from the book, which is a short paragraph that spoke to me, and also I'm guessing many people that are reading this post, and I think that you'll see why:

"Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read...The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world".

You can read what other members of the book club thought of the book over at the Britmums Quiet Linky.

I received a copy of the book to review as part of the Book Club, Amazon link is affiliate.

1 comment:

  1. ha ha - i'm glad to see I'm not the only one who stuck a zillion bookmarks in the book. There was just so much I wanted to remember and so many of the quotes were fabulous. I think a lot of bloggers will be able to relate to that quote too. x

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