Currently Reading: Quiet

Various fairy tales, the Brambly Hedge stories by Jill Barklem, The Three Musketeers by Dumas, Core Maths by Bostock and Chandler, Organic Chemistry by MacMurray, The Professor by Charlotte Bronte, Possession by AS Byatt, The Birth Book by Sears, The Baby Book by Sears, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International, the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen, The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer, People Skills by Robert Bolton, The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes… and now Quiet by Susan Cain.

 

All the above are books (or stories) that have strongly impressed me, moved me in some powerful way; made me understand more about the world and more about myself.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet by Susan Cain

As soon as I saw this book in my mother-in-law’s Christmas gift pile I was intrigued… I asked to borrow it (after she’d read it of course!) and soon began to read it. I came to the book with some skepticism. The subtitle of Quiet is ‘The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’. I wondered about the supposed power introverts wield; I wondered if this book would speak to me – after all, would I really consider myself an introvert? I’m not painfully shy, don’t really fear public speaking or find social events stressful. I just like my books, my writing, my drawing, my painting, my thoughts, my reflections… I like to learn, I like to practice my literary and artistic skills, I like to muse on the beauty there is in this world… you get the picture.

 

So… it turns out I am more of an introvert than I thought I was. This kind of niggles though, because I know what society thinks of introverts (and let’s just say it’s not all kind ;-)). I delve further into the book and realize again that this niggle has been embedded into my consciousness because of the way the world is set up (and yes, the western world is geared towards extroverts). Women, in particular, are expected to be ever-friendly, bright, happy (oh, ever so happy!) and sociable. I am starting to really relate to the author and her well-communicated ideas.

 

So by part two of the book I’m thinking that it’s okay to be an introvert. Then I think perhaps it’s even great to be an introvert (her descriptions of high-reactive or sensitive introverts hits a psychological funny-bone). I can’t wait to finish the book, to see what more she says about introverted children, effective communications and a whole load more.

 

I am empowered and elated. I’ve pieced together an awful lot about my psychological history and life in the past ten years, but this book has helped me to find yet another soul-mirror to view the landscape within…

 

I will leave you with some of my favourite sentences so far:

 

“Personal opinions are often a simple reflection of cultural bias.” (I’ve used this quote extensively this week!)

 

“The other thing Aron found about sensitive people is that they are highly empathic. It’s as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people’s emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have strong consciences. They avoid violent movies and TV shows; they’re acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior…”

 

“High-reactive children may be more likely to develop into artists and writers and scientists and thinkers because their aversion to novelty causes them to spend time inside the familiar – and intellectually fertile – environment of their own heads.”

 

“The parents of high-reactive children are exceedingly lucky… ‘The time and effort they invest will actually make a difference. Instead of seeing these kids as vulnerable to adversity, parents should see them as malleable – for worse, but also for better.’”

 

“We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.”

 

“Even though we can reach for the outer limits of our temperaments, it can often be better to situate ourselves squarely within our comfort zones.”

 

Finally

 

“If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself.”

 

So I will now retreat to the quiet house to get ready for bed and ready for my much-needed Quiet.

 

***

Many thanks again to Amanda at writealm for the daily writing prompts (although I only seem to be able to do one a month!).  They are much appreciated :-)

 

 

 

 

 

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7 comments on “Currently Reading: Quiet

  1. […] my amorphous thoughts on sensitivity became much more concrete. I wrote about my take on Quiet here, and how I found it to be a powerful read. In Quiet, the book The Highly Sensitive Person by […]

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  2. amy says:

    I read this too, but was disappointed that the section on children gave no tips for an introvert parent (me–not shy, but I do enjoy my quiet) raising an extrovert child (my daughter, who has a constant need to talk and be heard and seen). So in the end I didn’t really learn anything new, and didn’t get any useful help. -.-

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    • Marija Smits says:

      Thanks for your comment Amy; I haven’t got to the section on children as yet so I will bear your thoughts in mind when reading it – and I’d definitely like to discuss it with you when I’ve finished reading it.

      It’s lovely though to have you stop by my blog, even though you didn’t get any useful help from the book. I always enjoy conversing with you 🙂

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  3. I have been on the fence about reading this. I mean, I’m a bona fide introvert, why do I need a book to tell me about myself? And yet, so many people rave about it. Adding it to the to-read list!

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    • Marija Smits says:

      Yes, I can see why you’d be on the fence about reading it. If you’re comfortable in your own (introvert) skin perhaps it’s not necessary, but the descriptions of the psychology experiments, scientific research and background to the culture of extrovertism is fascinating… Apparently introverts really can be physically described as having a thin skin! (I was so glad to hear that as I’ve been told so often to get a ‘thicker skin’.) Hope you find it, at least, a teeny bit useful 😉

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  4. Angie says:

    I think I should read this book! I am an extrovert, but highly sensitive, and my empathy blends me into humanity in a way that I oft can’t separate myself. I was a highly reactive child, and chided for it, and it’s taking quite a lot of therapy to help me attempt to be myself, sans the sick hold of shame. I will seek out this book, Quiet, despite my extroverted ways. Thank you for sharing pieces of it! ❤

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    • Marija Smits says:

      Well it’s certainly a very readable book! The author mentions that, of course, it’s not just introverts who are highly sensitive, a proportion of extroverts are too – it’s just that there’s a greater percentage of sensitive folk who consider themselves introverted rather than extroverted. Your post about shame really stuck in my mind so that’s why I thought you may like this… Thanks for stopping by again 🙂

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