Books Magazine

Quiet by Susan Cain Read-Along, Final Discussion

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

cover of Quiet by Susan CainWelcome to the final discussion post for the read-along of Quiet by Susan Cain. We discussed the first three sections earlier:

This week, we’re discussing the last section and our overall impressions about the book.

Cain introduced the concept of “core personal projects,” work or people that we value highly enough to act in ways counter to our natural instincts (more extroverted if we’re introverted and vice versa). She also says it can be difficult to identify your core personal projects. What are yours?

I’m 50 and I think I maybe, just about, kinda sorta, got that figured out. So I concur that it’s hard to identify your core personal projects. In the last couple of years, I realized that I’m a happier person if I’m writing a book. Getting it published would be icing on the cake, of course, but now that I realize that the act of writing it is what makes me feel engaged and alive, I don’t have to fret so over the end result and can enjoy the process.

In service to this project, I’m willing to meet with other writers, speak at conferences, talk to readers, and stretch myself in other ways.

Do you have insights about how to educate an introverted child based on your experience as a child, parent, or teacher?

Cain described modern classrooms as chaotic spaces that emphasize group activities. She pointed out the disadvantages that introverted children have in those environments. I grew up long enough ago that classrooms were arranged traditionally, desks in rows with an expectation that you sit still and listen to the teacher. I did fine in that environment, although I was frequently bored, but my extroverted brother suffered. I kept thinking that I would do better in the modern classroom than my brother did in the traditional one.

Most of my real education happened when I was alone, reading books that I chose for myself at the library. Looking back on it, I feel like there were hours and hours of time each week that I could spend doing that, and endless days in the summer. I worry that modern children don’t have that kind of unstructured time to explore their interests on their own. That’s what I would want most for introverted children — access to a library and time to explore what they find there.

Many famous introverts were mentioned in this book. Who is your favorite introverted hero and why?

I loved learning about Professor Brian Little, retired Harvard University psychology lecturer, who won teaching awards for his energetic lectures and had students lined up in the hallway for his office hours. Despite this very extroverted approach to the job, he was the introvert who came up with the core personal project concept that I talked about in the first question. I love the idea that some things are more important than honoring my introversion and it doesn’t damage my sense of self to engage in them.

Overall, what did you think of the book? Was it helpful or informative? Did you agree or disagree with any of the major themes of the book?

I liked the book. It would have been more helpful to me when I was 25, or even 15, come to that. Over the last several decades, I’ve muddled through to much of these same conclusions on my own. As I wrote last week, I found my way to a more extroverted path at about age 40 and I’ve loved exploring it. This book reminded me that there is much I love about my more natural introversion.

Have you read Quiet? Feel free to add your post to the linky whether you wrote it as part of this read-along or previously. It will be fun for all of us to see multiple viewpoints about the book.

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