Susan Cain * Dial Books * May 3, 2016 * 288 Pages
Advanced Reader Copy provided by Amazon Vine.
Man oh man, I wish I had a book like this when I was younger. I grew up in a family that did not accept quiet people. I was always the odd one out, as I preferred a calm and soothing environment to read or think by myself. I hated that the TV was on all the time, that people seemed to be shouting and arguing instead of talking and listening, and, especially, that I was constantly criticized for being too sensitive, too shy, and too reclusive.
I, of course, enjoyed reading Susan Cain’s first book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, but I love that she decided to write another book aimed at a younger audience. I know my childhood experience of being shamed for being “too quiet” isn’t unique. And the judgments you absorb as a child stay with you–sometimes for a lifetime, unfortunately. As a kid, I think I would have given anything to hear someone say that it was okay to, well, be me. And that is what this book gives: acceptance. There is no extrovert-bashing in here (quite the opposite, actually), but the book IS a gentle celebration of all people who prefer to approach life in a slightly more calm and deliberate way.
Why shouldn’t quiet be strong?
Quiet Power is divided into four sections: School, Socializing, Hobbies, and Home. Each section has several chapters, all pertaining to the main subject of the section. Cain gives a lot of good, practical advice, but she’s never pushy or judgmental. Some of my favorite insights from this book:
- Introverts are good listeners, and they are very focused. This tends to make them good leaders.
- Find tactics that help you reduce social anxiety: speak up first; speak up last; or sit up front so you don’t have to see others watching you.
- Pursue causes you are passionate about, since passion tends to override fear.
- It’s okay to build your alliances slowly and steadily.
- You don’t grow out of being shy, you grow into it.
- Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, but only so far; on a scale of 1 – 10, your anxiety level should be around 5 – 6.
- If your kid loves school, but tends to come home and immediately have a meltdown, it might be because she is exhausted by being “on” for the past several hours. Make sure your kid has time to unwind and recharge after big activities. (Um, this was life-changing for our household.)
One of the best things about this book is that all this advice isn’t delivered via a lecture; it’s demonstrated through personal stories. Most of the stories come from introverted kids (in middle school through college), but there are some stories from famous adults, as well (e.g., Gandhi, Beyonce, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.). All of these people experience different levels of introversion. Some are straight up loners; others become class president. There is a lot of variety, which means just about any introvert is going to be able to read this book and find something useful.
Ultimately, Quiet Power is a practical and uplifting resource for introverted kids–and I think it’s a helpful book for adults, too, whether you are introverted or not. It can be so hurtful to not be accepted as a kid, and I think it is worthwhile for adults to understand that quiet kids aren’t weird or broken. They have their own unique way of experiencing the world and expressing themselves, but they add so much to the conversation. We just need to close our mouths, open our ears, and listen.