Library Journal Best Books of 2012
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2012
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts 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 the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal” over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects—how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School. And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
What academics are saying:
"Susan Cain’s Quiet is superb. Based on meticulous research, it is a compelling reflection on how the Extrovert ideal shapes our lives and why this is deeply unsettling. Drawing on the latest research, and reflecting a deep personal passion for her topic, Cain has written an elegant and powerful plea for introversion. It will open up a new and different conversation on how the personal is political and how we need to empower the legions of people who are disposed to be quiet, reflective and sensitive. Quiet deserves to be widely read, heeded and passed along to our friends, family, colleagues and, perhaps most of all, to that loud, blunt and sometimes boorish extrovert down the hall."
—Brian R. Little, Ph.D., Distinguished Scholar, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Cambridge University
“Susan Cain's Quiet is wonderfully informative about the culture of the extravert ideal and the psychology of a sensitive temperament, and she is helpfully perceptive about how introverts can make the most of their personality preferences in all aspects of life. Society needs introverts, so everyone can benefit from the insights in this important book.”
—Jonathan M. Cheek, Professor of Psychology, Wellesley College; co-editor, Shyness: Perspectives on Research and Treatment
“This book goes beyond such superficial impressions to a more penetrating analysis (as befits the book’s general orientation). As the author herself concedes, some of the behaviors she describes may be connected to personality characteristics other than extroversion, but given the book’s larger goals, that is acceptable. As a researcher who has published empirical papers on extraversion, self-monitoring, agreeableness, and Person-Thing Orientation, I can see differences among them, but all of them deal with a larger issue of social accommodation. My impression is that Susan Cain may be more interested in the dynamics of social accommodation than with the single predictor of introversion, per se. I think you (and Susan Cain) have a winner here.”
—William Graziano, Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University
“Finally someone has exposed the feet of clay of the extraversion industry. It is a wonder it took so long. Those who value a quiet, reflective life will feel a burden lifting from their shoulders as they read Susan Cain’s eloquent and well documented paean to introversion—and will no longer feel guilty or inferior for having made the better choice!”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University; author of Flow
“Quiet is a book of liberation from old ideas about the value of introverts. The book tells tales of psychological discovery that are just as fascinating as the stories of introverts whose ideas and actions have changed history. Cain’s intelligence, respect for research, and vibrant prose put Quiet in an elite class with the best books from Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and other masters of psychological non-fiction.
—Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School professor; coauthor, The Progress Principle
“Gentle is powerful. . . . Solitude is socially productive. . . . These important counter-intuitive ideas are among the many reasons to take Quiet to a quiet corner and absorb its brilliant, thought-provoking message.”
—Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School professor; author of Confidence and SuperCorp
“What Susan Cain understands—and readers of this fascinating volume will soon appreciate—is something that psychology and our fast moving—and talking—society has been all too slow to realize: Not only is there really nothing wrong with being quiet, reflective, shy and introverted, but there are distinct advantages to being this way. Perhaps like those more quiet individuals whom this book heralds, many of us would benefit if we lived according to the old adage about crossing the street: stop, look and listen.”
—Jay Belsky, Robert M. and Natalie Reid Dorn Professor, Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis
“Once in a blue moon, a book comes along that gives us startling new insights. Quiet is that book: it will change the way you see yourself, other people, and the world. It’s part page-turner, part cutting-edge science. The implications for business are especially valuable: Quiet offers tips on how introverts can lead effectively, give winning speeches, avoid burnout, and choose the right roles. This charming, gracefully written, thoroughly researched book is simply masterful.”
—Adam M. Grant, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management, The Wharton School
“Memo to all you glad-handing, back-slapping, brainstorming masters of the universe out there: Stop networking and talking for a minute and read this book. In Quiet, Susan Cain does an eloquent and powerful job of extolling the virtues of the listeners and the thinkers--the reflective introverts of the world who appreciate that hard problems demand careful thought and who understand that it's a good idea to know what you want to say before you open your mouth. Read this book and you'll find yourself seeking out the opinions of those who sit quietly in corners waiting to be asked what they think.”
--Barry Schwartz, Professor of Psychology, Swarthmore College; author of Practical Wisdom and The Paradox of Choice
To view Susan Cain's TED talk on introversion (March 3, 2012, Long Beach, CA) go to: