I am an avid reader. I would like to say that I read a wide variety of books, but that wouldn't be strictly truthful. I love a good who-dunnit, much to DH's consternation! Occasionally I force myself to read a non-fiction book with some vague idea it might prevent my brain turning to mush. It was with this slightly ambivalent "must eat your greens" attitude that I approached "Quiet" by Susan Cain.
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"Quiet" is sub-titled "The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" which just about sums it up. It's main thesis is that the world is set up for extroverts, who form the majority. Introverts are sometimes seen as slightly lacking or strange, but actually play a very useful part in society as they come up with the best ideas. If you are unsure whether you are an introvert or an extrovert then there is a good test here.
I chose to read it because DH is a dyed in the wool introvert. He is practically off the scale. He beavers away in his office in the loft very happily, with just the occasional interaction with the outside world. I am mildly introverted. I enjoy getting together with small groups of friends but I avoid large parties like the plague. I need periods of time alone with only a book for company.
This is the first non-fiction book that I honestly could not put down. I am not going to attempt a serious book review; I am not qualified and I would bore you rigid, but these were the highlights for me.
It follows the development of (American) society from a place where introversion was accepted as normal to a time when it was almost seen as a social disorder. I recognise this because last year the (British) school my son attends had concerns about him as he preferred to play by himself rather than with large groups of boisterous boys. I wasn't worried, but he obviously didn't conform to some norm and that made them uncomfortable.
A very interesting section for me was the section on church services. This was from an American perspective, which I have no experience of, but I can comment a little on the British church scene. Some churches can be very difficult for introverts to cope with. They are constantly upbeat, with little or no time for reflection. If you are going through a difficult time you are expected to exhibit the "joy of the Lord". The "talk to someone you don't know" section can be torture!
Schools can also be tricky places for introverts. In primary school desks are set up for group work and a lot of work is supposed to be carried out in groups or pairs. Teachers expect children to speak out in class. Every single teacher DD has ever had has commented that she is too quiet. She is nearly 13 so that is a fair few now! She is her father's daughter and speaking out in class is anathema to her. I love my daughter the way she is; she has a close group of friends and has a kind, gentle nature. My greatest desire for her is that she is happy with who she is, and doesn't try to become someone else.
There is a long section on the possible causes and origin of introversion. I enjoy science so I liked this part, but others might find it a little tough going.
In summary, I loved this book because it validates who I am. I recognised myself or DH on every page. It is OK not to like parties, it is fine to take time for myself occasionally, I don't have to have a ready riposte for every question. Definitely worth a read!