A Salute to Introverts (including the one within)

I’ve been fascinated with things related to personality for years. Back in my undergrad days, when I thought I would be an ag teacher someday, I studied up on learning styles. That involved a brush with Myers-Briggs and Keisey-Bates.

I’ve been addicted ever since. On the one hand, it has given me a lens to understanding both myself and the others around me. On the other hand, it makes a fun parlor game when all else fails (not that I ever leave my house, mind you).

cover-quietcain

When the chance to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking came up through the Patheos Book Club, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

My husband is an introvert of a pretty high order. And I suspect at least one of my children will pan out to be slightly introverted. I’m a confirmed extrovert, but I have a keen interest–and maybe a wanna-be attitude–about the introverts I know and love.

Quiet is a book that should be required reading for…well, for a lot of people I know. I think I’ve raved about it enough that my husband will read it. Or at least glance through most of it. I found it to be applicable to parents, businesspeople, teachers, and introverts of all stripes. Reading it as an extrovert, I found it gave voice to many of the things I’ve long admired about others and hated about myself.

My hot temper and flash responses? No, I can’t blame them all on extroversion, but that doesn’t help. Living with Mr. Self-Discipline is quite a school in introversion and the good side effects.

As I was reading through the schooling Cain provides throughout the book, which took her at least five years to research and write, I couldn’t help but realize that I’m more introverted than anyone ever thought.

“I think I’m part introvert!” I announced one night, almost triumphantly, as I was reading one of the chapters.

My husband was unable to speak because he was laughing so hard. When I shared the same sentiment the next day in the parish office, one of my colleagues was struck speechless (I’m not sure I’ve ever had that effect on her before).

But it’s true. I am. And maybe we all are, to some extent. Cain uses nearly 300 pages and countless real-life examples, case studies, and research references to examine what it means to be introverted. She looks at how introversion affects the way both those who are and those who are around them approach the world. She considers ways we can better tap into the “power” of introversion (our own and others’).

This book fits nicely into a category of reading and research that I barely restrain myself from just disappearing into (probably because I’m not an introvert?). It helped me understand myself as an extrovert and those introverts I love. It made me appreciate even more the strengths those introverts bring to the table–Cain gave voice to things I have observed and noticed but haven’t articulated.

Have we made the Extrovert Ideal something that hides the power of the introverted way of life? I suspect there’s no ideal in being far on one extreme or the other. The loudmouths do usually get the attention (and I am guilty of being one of that band), but I’ll bet the people who aren’t piping up don’t have nothing to say. In fact, if those of us with all the energy would harness it to listening to the other half, our world would be a much more interesting place.

All in all, highly recommended. I’d lend you my copy, but there’s a (they don’t know they’re on it yet) waiting list. :)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.l.hess Lisa Lawmaster Hess

    Love this, Sarah! I think all writers are part introvert – and I say that knowing I’d get the same response here if I announced that I’m part introvert (which I am!)

    • http://sfomom.blogspot.com/ Barb S

      Interesting comment. I’m a confirmed introvert, but I find that the more I write, the more I have to let myself function as an extrovert. (What I wouldn’t give for my very own garret, though.)

      • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

        Ah, Barb, a garret! I think I would get it all decorated and then still do my work in the very middle of the chaos.

        But I find YOUR comment interesting too. :)

  • Michelle

    Do we idealize extroversion so much that any reference to quiet and contemplation becomes equated with introversion? Everyone, no matter what their personality type, can benefit from a little bit of solitude – but some people thrive on it more than others…

    • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

      Michelle, yes, I think that has happened somewhat. And you have a point.
      But I think solitude is work for extroverts in a way it just isn’t for introverts.

      This book STILL has me thinking!!! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506406752 Christy Isinger

    I just finished this book today! I thought the most interesting points she brought up were the ways society begins at such a young age to squash introversion especially in school. I’m mostly an extrovert, but its so interesting learning about the opposite personality and the weird ways introversion and extroversion mesh together in ourselves!

    • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

      Yeah, Christy, that was/is interesting. And I had to catch myself. Though I live with an introvert and so admire it, I catch myself not encouraging it so much in my kids (one of whom I didn’t really acknowledge as an introvert until I read this book!). (Let’s not talk about what that says about ME!)

  • Vicki Brown

    Nice book review.
    And I love your writing style!

  • Marcie

    Just added this to my reading list! Thanks!

    • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

      Marcie, when you read it, let me know what you think! This is a book that bears discussion, for sure!

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