It’s my believe that we should add a new protected class–introverts– to those already afforded protected under the law. I came to this conclusion after reading Susan Cain’s brilliant work “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” The book opens with the example of Rosa Parks, a quiet, self-possessed woman who, by one quiet act of defiance touched off a movement which changed society. Cain brings up several introverted heroes in various walks of life: CEOs, inventors, artists, scientists…to whom we owe much for their enormous contributions to society. But the book is much more than this. It serves to challenge the “Extrovert Ideal” which has been held up as the personality model for years, undervaluing the introvert and even making introverts feel somehow damaged or afflicted with something they must “work on to get over.” I felt vindicated after reading this book, especially having learned that much of the introvert/extrovert nature is imbedded in one’s biological makeup. There really isn’t anything wrong with me! Cain explores the neuro-scientific research on sensitivity and convincingly explains the workings of the brain as it affects personality . This physiological component and how it manifests in introverts also explains why they suffer when forced to work in groups, why they need down time alone in order to be creative, and how, unlike extroverts, find large social affairs an energy drain as opposed to a boost. Reading this, I can’t help but think about how most modern workplaces are set up for extroverts–desks crammed together for more “collaboration”–how classrooms force students to engage in group projects more and more, and how the extrovert in a group is often chosen as a leader, regardless of any particular qualifications for the position. You extroverts out there, don’t be turned off by all of this, however! Cain is careful to explain how we in society and in our personal lives need a balance, but that balance must now value the contributions and needs of introverts as well. Her book, which took over seven years to research and write, is filled with compelling stories, carefully researched data, and passionate statements. It is an enjoyable read just at face value, but as an introvert, or the spouse or sibling or parent of one, it is a must read! It will change the way you see the world and others in it.
Monthly Archives: August 2013
I recently picked up Meg Donohue’s All the Summer Girls for two reasons: I wanted to read an example of contemporary women’s fiction, aka Chic Lit, and I was headed off to the Cape for a beach vacation, and thought it an apt title. I was disappointed on both counts. The story centers around three very different women in their late twenties who have been life-long friends. One summer on the beach in Avalon (NJ), an event occurred which changed each of them. Now, years later, they come together again to the same beach, each harboring their own secrets. The book is told through the first person of each of the three: Kate, a controlling lawyer who has just been dumped by her fiance, Dani, a writer who has sabotaged her efforts with drugs and alcohol, and Vanessa, an art gallery owner who has recently given up her career for motherhood and is perhaps resenting her decision. The strongest drawn character of the three is Dani, who is portrayed in a sympathetic manner. I found the others two-dimensional and, frankly, I just didn’t care much about their problems. The climax of the novel–the big reveal which we are teased with throughout the first 200 or so pages–is each woman’s participation or guilt over the accidental death of Kate’s brother during the summer of their junior year in college. After all the build-up, the uncovered secrets and buried guilt is a big yawn. The author delivers some nice descriptions of the beach, she crafts some beautiful turns of phrase to describe internal experiences, but much too much of her work is “telling” us about the three women instead of “showing.” Not having read Donohue’s other title, How to Eat a Cupcake, based on this one, I’ll pass on dessert.