With its soft white cover, the title embossed in a gently curved typeset, ‘Quiet’ sits unassumingly on the shelf. It doesn’t shout or vie for my attention. It just sits and waits, confident in the knowledge that those who need it will find it.
I have been putting off reviewing this book for three weeks now. Three weeks over which I have wracked my brain for words which could do justice to what this book has meant for my life. I realised that no amount of mulling could lead to an adequate expression of my feelings towards this book, so take whatever I say, double it and add one, for a more accurate representation.
After 22 years of self-deprecation and a seemingly inherent sense that I am not what I should be, I finally find myself on the road towards making peace with myself. This may seem self-indulgent, but for anyone who has ever doubted their place in the world, once you have read this, you too will want to sing from the rooftops (quite clearly a metaphor…I’m an introvert, I don’t sing from the rooftops, I write a blog).
So what is ‘Quiet’ and why I have I just wasted 3 paragraphs raving about how fantastic it is? Cain has crafted an anthology which quietly makes a case for the softly spoken and reserved. Backed up by neuroscientists and psychological research and humanised by touching case stories, each chapter probes a different aspect of introverts functioning in society. The findings are surprising and in stark contrast to what much of the literature portrays: it is okay to be an introvert. In fact, introversion is not something to be shied away from (if you’ll pardon the pun), but to be celebrated. Quietly, with a cup of tea and a good book of course.
Instead of championing extroversion as society so typically does, Cain advocates the benefits of a society balanced by the presence of extroverts, introverts and everyone in between. At no point does she deprecate extroverts, it is merely highlighted that this is not the only acceptable way to be.
Gone are the hints and tricks seen so often in introversion manuals, forcing you to manipulate your mind into a faux state of extroversion that is only ever a pale imitation of the real deal. Cain replaces them with gentle reminders of the positive sides of introversion – the tenacity and attention to fine details – whilst acknowledging the struggles that come hand-in-hand with introversion and suggesting ways of dealing with them.
I would recommend this book to anybody who feels that they suffer from introversion, or anybody who has viewed introversion as an affliction. This book teaches you to value this delicate state of quietness, to feel that you are not alone, that you do not have to change and that it is ok to be you. So thank you, Susan Cain, for finally setting me on the path to self-acceptance. You have changed my life.
And I hope that you, dear reader, will buy this book so that she can change your life too.