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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Paperback – January 29, 2013
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
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Fast Company’s #1 Best Business book of 2012
INC Magazine’s Best 2012 Books for Entrepreneurs
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GoodReads Nonfiction Choice Award Winner
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Kirkus REVIEWS’ Best Books of 2012
“An important book that should embolden anyone who's ever been told, 'Speak up!'”
“Cain offers a wealth of useful advice for teachers and parents of introverts…Quiet should interest anyone who cares about how people think, work, and get along, or wonders why the guy in the next cubicle acts that way. It should be required reading for introverts (or their parents) who could use a boost to their self-esteem.”
—Wall Street Journal
“An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review
“Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off.”
“This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types.”
“An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are.”
“Charm and charisma may be one beau ideal, but backed by first-rate research and her usual savvy, Cain makes a convincing case for the benefits of reserve.”
“Quiet is a thought-provoking and fascinating work that reminds us of the dangers of solely listening to the loudest voices.”
“In this well-written, unusually thoughtful book, Cain encourages solitude seekers to see themselves anew: not as wallflowers but as powerful forces to be reckoned with.”
“Cain’s Quiet revolution calls us all to rethink the way we value human contribution.”
—Revel In It Mag
“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, author of Flow and Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University
“Superbly researched, deeply insightful, and a fascinating read, Quiet is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to understand the gifts of the introverted half of the population.”
—GRETCHEN RUBIN, author of The Happiness Project
“Quiet is a book of liberation from old ideas about the value of introverts. 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, Professor, Harvard Business School, and coauthor, The Progress Principle
“As an introvert often called upon to behave like an extrovert, I found the information in this book revealing and helpful. Drawing on neuroscientific research and many case reports, Susan Cain explains the advantages and potentials of introversion and of being quiet in a noisy world.”
—ANDREW WEIL, author of Healthy Aging and Spontaneous Happiness
“Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research on introversion, extroversion, and sensitivity--this book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts.”
—ELAINE ARON, author of The Highly Sensitive Person
“Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the ‘niche’ that represents half the people in the world.”
—GUY KAWASAKI, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
“Susan Cain is the definer of a new and valuable paradigm. In this moving and original argument, she makes the case that we are losing immense reserves of talent and vision because of our culture's overvaluation of extroversion. A startling, important, and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light.”
—NAOMI WOLF, author of The Beauty Myth
“Superb…A compelling reflection on how the Extrovert Ideal shapes our lives and why this is deeply unsettling. Based on meticulous research, 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.”
—BRIAN R. LITTLE, PH.D., Distinguished Scholar, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Cambridge University
“Quiet elevates the conversation about introverts in our outwardly-oriented society to new heights. I think that many introverts will discover that, even though they didn't know it, they have been waiting for this book all their lives.”
—ADAM S. MCHUGH, author of Introverts in the Church
“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
“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.”
—BARRY SCHWARTZ, author of Practical Wisdom and The Paradox of Choice
“A smart, lively book about the value of silence and solitude that makes you want to shout from the rooftops. Quiet is an engaging and insightful look into the hearts and minds of those who change the world instead of tweeting about it.”
—DANIEL GILBERT, professor of psychology, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness
About the Author
SUSAN CAIN is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution LLC and the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller QUIET: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into thirty-six languages, has appeared on many “Best of” lists, and was named the #1 best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Cain one of its Most Creative People in Business. Cain’s book was the subject of a TIME Magazine cover story, and her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 10 million times, and was named by Bill Gates one of his all-time favorite talks. Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, the S.E.C., Harvard, Yale, West Point and the US Naval Academy. She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. In 2014, Cain partnered with office design company Steelcase to create Susan Cain Quiet Spaces, with a range of architecture, furniture, materials and technology to empower introverts at work. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons. You can visit her at www.thepowerofintroverts.com., and follow her on twitter (@susancain).
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I blamed myself - there must be something `wrong with me' because I can't handle the job. I wanted to leave, but thought, if I can't handle this job, how am I going to handle a new job? It'll probably be more of the same. I thought I was just getting soft because I was getting older (I'm in my late 40s).
I've always known I was introverted, but I didn't realize just what all that entailed - I thought it mostly meant `shy' or that I didn't like social settings.
This book taught me more about myself than I've ever known. It read like my biography. Almost every page had a new insight into why I think and feel the way I do. Throughout the book I saw my very own self described in new and empowering ways.
I learned that the job situation I'm currently in - the non-stop deadline demands, interruptions, never being able to work quietly or alone no matter how difficult a project was, phones ringing incessantly, people in my face all day long, etc. - especially when it's work that I actually don't care anything about personally - those are the exact circumstances that trip every one of a strong introvert's triggers. And I was subjecting myself to it 40 hours a week, for months.
It's no wonder I was so miserable and completely exhausted all the time. And as enlightening as it was to learn how many of the traits I've beat myself up for over the years are just a product of my introverted temperament (being highly sensitive, shutting down when subjected to stimulation overload, preferring to think a thing through before I speak - something I never get to do at work, as if it takes me more than 5 seconds to say something, I get interrupted and cut off), the most important thing I got from this book is that it's okay to be myself, it's okay to feel the way I do. There is not something `wrong with me' that I have to `fix.' I am not weak or a failure because I don't feel or behave like my extremely extroverted boss (who thrives in high-energy crisis mode, and is bored unless he's doing 10 things at once - and expects the rest of us to keep up).
And far from it being an age-related `going soft,' what's probably in fact going on is that as I get older, it is becoming increasingly vital to me to be truer to myself.
I also found the information on the history of the "rise of the Culture of Personality" completely fascinating, it really gave me a new insight as to just exactly how we 'grew' this tendency to value extroversion over introversion. It makes so much more sense now.
This book gave me the courage I needed to start taking the steps to fix my work situation. Not only the courage, but the `permission' and the understanding - because I now know there isn't something wrong with me, but instead this is what I need to do to be my best self, and stop killing myself with stress. That I probably can find a place of value in the world by being myself, not trying to force myself to be something I'm not. I know I will meet resistance from my boss (I'd love for him to read this book, but unfortunately I know he won't), and I know I won't instantly fix everything in one day, and that I'll probably always need to be able to stretch myself a bit to do things that are not ideal for me ... but this book taught me that there are ways to make that work, too, if you understand and honor the need for recharging around such tasks, instead of trying to force yourself to do them 8 hours a day with no break. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, in either direction. Basically, I'm not out of the woods yet, but I now see the path out, and I have hope.
I think every introvert should read this book, because it will help you understand why you are who you are, and why that's a beautiful thing, not a character flaw. And I think everyone who knows an introvert should read this book, and quit trying to "fix us."
Which means pretty much the entire country (or world) should read this book. The wealth of information and insights in this book cannot be overstated - especially if you are an introverted type of person who has always felt there was something not quite right about you, or that you somehow needed to change to fit in or succeed. This book will give you back yourself, and in my case, my life. Thank you, Susan Cain, from the bottom of my heart (which is finally beating at a more normal speed because I'm not panicked about going to work for the first time in months).
Edited 11-13-14: It worked! I'm now working half-days at the office and half-days at home, and in a few weeks will transition to working from home full time. I never imagined that could happen. It's amazing what becomes possible when you finally realize you deserve what you already knew you needed.
I gave it four stars only because it is extremely long, and I found a lot of it tedious to read. I am an excellent reader, and it has taken me most of my summer break to get through the book. I was never bored exactly, but it does have a lot of information. It requires a lot of attention while you read it. I'm so glad that I did, but this should not be approached as light reading.
In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private. When we embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. - Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
I grew up around farmers who barely spoke three words strung together - they were gruff and tough - but you just knew, deep down, that you could trust them with your life, they were straight shooters, no B.S., hard-working, God-fearing folks. People shook your hand and it was the truth, it was a done deal.
In a small town, the Culture of Character still exists. Where you are not judged based on your first impression, or your most recent comments, or if you said the "right thing" or if you said anything at all. People know you. They know what you're about. They know if you are honest, or not. They know about your parents, grand parents, siblings - the good the bad and the ugly. Once you're in, you're in - for life. Who you are matters, not the "show" you put on to convince people of who you want them to think you are.
That's the Culture of Personality, this sausage maker we have all been forced into, this world that thrives on first impressions, Facebook status, resume building and a winning smile. No one knows US - the real us - because we are not allowed to be real. We are selling ourselves in every moment of everyday - whatever "role" we have created for ourselves must be maintained - at any cost. We cannot be complex, multifaceted human beings with a wide range of emotions, opinions, interests and needs. This is too difficult to regulate, control and market.
You must choose a box, usually during college, crawl inside and remain their permanently. Deviation could result in missed promotions, lost status and diminished prospects. So we all dream of "retirement," the time when we believe we can really be ourselves - do what we really want to do and stop cowering before the powers that be.
Not likely. After a lifetime of submission, freedom cannot be resurrected. Freedom must be practiced. The Culture of Personality will persist in new ways. Our craving to belong, to fit in - those needs we have incubated since preschool - remain intact, stronger than ever and drive ever onward.
"Americans found [find] themselves working no longer with neighbors but with strangers. "Citizens" morphed into "employees," facing the question of how to make a good impression on people to whom they have no civic or family ties. Americans have responded to these pressures by trying to become salesmen who could sell not only their company's latest gizmo but also themselves."
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
I know what you're thinking: "That's just the way it is bub, get over it already." Right you are. I am not so much longing for a return to my imagined utopia of small town U.S.A. as I am pointing out what has been lost. Americans tend to be "all in" kind of people - we do everything to the extreme - moderation and balance are not our strong suits. When a " new, latest, greatest solution" to any problem emerges, we go all in, tear down our existing structures, re-create our selves and our organizations in this "new image" wait five years, get frustrated with the lack of results and do it all over again. (Think about "school reform" which has been occurring since the very first school was established).
Our problem is that we throw everything "old" out and accept everything "new" as better. We throw out many good ideas, practices and people in the process. The Culture of Personality is shallow, temporary, insecure and trendy. We need to "get rich quick" because we expect to be thrown out on our butts as soon as we get too "old," start to wrinkle or lose our "network of connections" to retirement.
Who we are ceases to matter - who we appear to be is the driver of our destiny. Social media, anyone? This becomes a 24/7 responsibility, to decorate our box to attract others, never showing our real selves for fear of rejection.
So yes, I do miss being "known." I miss knowing others - being able to dismiss a comment or act because I know the person at the core and could put every other interaction into that context. When people become "connections" they stop being people. People are complex. They fail. They screw up. They say inappropriate things. They age. None of which is allowed in the Culture of Personality, where your value is on what you can do, for me, today - yesterday is dead and gone.
Unfortunately, it is only in hindsight that we can see what we missed, how we screwed up and realize what we should have fought harder to preserve. As social media rages on - and we all sink deeper and deeper into the cocoons of our own design - I am desperately trying to see it before I lose it. See what? To see my life from the end, to value what will matter in hindsight, not what trends, ego or insecurity tell me to value today.
In the end, what really matters?
That is the ultimate question that every individual must ask and answer for themselves. When you take your last breath - a day that will arrive despite your futile efforts against "aging" - will you update your Facebook status ("dying, just taking last breath, not what I expected, SCARED!!! BTW, where is my family?") or will you hug your spouse and children, share tears of joy and gratitude for a life well lived?
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
- Matthew 7:24-27
Is a good life lived built on a foundation of character or of personality. Which is the rock and which is the sand? I think I know.
What you would choose at your last breath is what you should do now.