Friday, June 10, 2016

Nonfiction: Quiet Power by Susan Cain

Today's book was an obvious choice for me as I had read Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking back in 2012. The book sparked an ongoing conversation regarding the introvert/extrovert dynamic and helped many people understand themselves, and their loved ones, a whole lot better. Now Cain has come out with Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts as a companion book for teens and kids. And although it has been years since I was a teenager, I still learned a lot and was able to relate to many of the stories.

Genre, Themes, History: Quiet Power is a nonfiction book geared towards introverted teens and kids, although extroverts would benefit from it as well, along with parents and teachers. Cain uses some personal stories, but mostly stories from various kids and teens, as well as research, to discuss what it means to be introverted in this day and age, when the habits and personalities of extroverts seem to be celebrated the most. Separated into four parts - school, socializing, hobbies, and home - Cain gives examples of introverted kids struggling, but also succeeding, through the often difficult middle and high school years. Many introverts who attended school will recognize the stories of kids who were told they needed to speak up more during class, and sometimes even were forced to do so or suffer the consequences of losing those all important participation points. But the examples and tips Cain offers go far beyond just struggles in the classroom. Cain touches on friendships, extra-curricular activities, family life, social media, navigating relationships with extroverts, and eventually ends with offering tips to both parents and teachers on how to reach out to the introverted children in their class or home. The book is an expansion on the ideas presented in Quiet, but tailored more to kids and teens who want to know more about what it means to be an introvert.

My Verdict:  I can go ahead and say that I liked the book. Of course, I am not the intended audience. I am also not a parent or a teaches. I do not pretend to know what teens like - honestly, even when I was a teenager I did not really know what they liked. But I imagine that this book would certainly be helpful to someone, whether they are a teenager, or come into contact with the intended demographic on a regular basis. Even though I had read Quiet already, I still found myself learning a lot from Quiet Power. Naturally, the book also caused me to reflect on my own middle and high school years and think about how I handled my introverted nature in an environment that seemed to want me to speak up often, and loudly, when that just wasn't what I felt driven to do. For me, any book that challenges my high school experience is more than okay by me.

Favorite Moment: In the chapter titled "Quiet Friendship," Cain includes the story of Lucy, an introverted British teen who realized she needed more time to herself, so she began to hang out in the library during lunch instead of with her friends. One day the group confronted her, angry that she had been ignoring them, or at least that is what they felt was happening. Even after apologizing and explaining that she wasn't ignoring them, that she just needed some alone time, it was explained to her than in order to stay in the group, she had to hang out with her friends at lunch. Thankfully, over time, Lucy was able to remain friends with some of the girls in the group, though she fell away from others. While I did not have this exact situation happen to me, I have had the experience of people thinking that my need to go off on my own and just be my own company for awhile is somehow about them, when it most certainly is not. 

Recommended Reading: Naturally, I recommend Quiet, the book Cain wrote for adults. But I also though I would recommend Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, as Cain makes many suggestions that seem to line up with Brown's belief in the importance of vulnerability.

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