Katherine Heiny explores the lives of several contemporary women chasing after their heart. What is particularly striking is how unlike the title of Single, Carefree, Mellow the narrators are, from Maya who is considering breaking up with her boyfriend right after her dog dies to Nina, a woman having an affair with a runner in the neighborhood while hosting a priest at her house. Tied together with infidelity and humor, these primarily standalone stories are funny and interesting on the surface, yet they have a depth to them willing the reader to sink further. The observant and complicated inner lives of the narrators bring extra color to ordinary life, adding meaning where you might not have noticed it before.
Check It Out
Author: Susan Cain
Page Count: 352 pages
Tone: Thought-provoking, Reflective, Accessible
Summary from publisher:
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. Quiet has had a lot of popularity and has been on numerous bestseller lists, including the NYT bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Why do you think Quiet has been a bestseller of this magnitude?
2. How did your perception of introversion and extroversion change or not change after reading Quiet?
3. Why do you think Western society evolved from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality?
4. Is it better to have people perceive you as a “competent leader” or overlook your leadership?
5. Why do you think we’re more inclined to follow those who initiate action?
6. What are ways we can look past sparkly speaking skills on a group level? How about when you are speaking with an individual?
7. What studies or facts surprised you?
8. Cain uses a lot of anecdotes to back up her claims. Would you count anecdotes as a credible source?
9. How do you think Cain did writing a book on the strengths of introverts without discounting the value extroverts bring to society?
10. What are the advantages of being an introvert? What are the advantages of being an extrovert?
11. One of the anecdotes Cain shares is of a tax lawyer who had trouble performing speaking events with very short notice. She thought it spoke poorly of her skills and knowledge, but it turns out she needed more advance notice for speaking. Cain writes, “But once Esther understands herself, she can insist to her colleagues that they give her advance notice of any speaking events” (126). This is one example of one of the kinds of tweaks, Cain suggests introverts make for their success. How do we begin to understand ourselves, so we can make these kinds of tweaks in our own lives?
12. How realistic do you think those tweaks are that we might make in our daily life? How about in the tweaks Cain talks about in the workplace?
13. Cain shares a statement by a woman from Taiwan who attended graduate school at UCLA, “Oh in the U.S., as soon as you start talking, you’re fine.” How does this statement ring true in the U.S.? How does it differ? Are there situations when this could be of benefit or of detriment?
14. There is a part of the book where Cain talks about fixed and free personality traits, basically saying that there are some personality traits that we are not stuck with having, and there is more flexibility in our personalities. She asks the question, “But if we’re capable of such flexibility, does it even make sense to chart the differences between introverts and extroverts?” (206) How would you answer that question?
15. What lessons did you glean from Quiet about interacting with the people around you, whether you’re an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert?
16. What are ways you can modify your behavior to better connect with introverts? How about extroverts?
17. Do you think introverts or extroverts tend to use the internet to communicate more, whether it be email or social networks like Facebook?
18. Who wouldn’t like this book? Who would disagree with it?
19. This book was divided in four different parts discussing essentially the workplace, the biology of introversion, Western culture and other cultures, and finally relating to others. What section or sections did you find most useful or interesting?
20. Do you think Quiet will have any lasting power? It’s popular now, but will it still be popular/enlightening/necessary in ten years from now? How about twenty? Or forty?
21. Cain is advocating for the Quiet Revolution in which we go about in life paying more attention to introverts. What would be risked if we pay more attention to introversion? What would be gained?
22. Do you see the emphasis on groups appearing in places other than work or school?
23. Do you trust Susan Cain as the author? Why or why not?
24. Do you have any suggestions of interesting psychology/science nonfiction books?
If you liked Quiet, try...
Escape the winter chill and transport yourself to the South with a collection of short stories by Ellen Gilchrist. The critically acclaimed In the Land of Dreamy Dreams showcases her frank yet warm and lively writing style. Her daring, spirited female protagonists are sometimes flawed but always entertaining.
Roxane Forrestor, twice-widowed Scottish beauty and Countess of Kilmarnock, has succeeded in keeping several powerful suitors at bay, but her defenses are tested when a wanted rebel earl surprises her in her bedchamber. No matter how her heart feels, she must keep her head. The safety of her children may depend on it. Author Susan Johnson is celebrated for scenes of sizzling seduction, and To Please a Lady lives up to that promise. Balancing rich historical detail and dramatic turns of story, this early novel doesn’t shy from exploring heated encounters while maintaining brisk pacing. The partnering of an older woman with a persistent younger man isn’t often represented in historical romances, but breaking with convention only adds to the intensity of Robbie and Roxane’s love story.
…and get wrapped up in reading!
This winter if you get wrapped up in reading you might possibly win a prize! For each book you read or listen to February 1-28, fill out a drawing slip located on the second floor at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk. At the end of the month, we will draw winners for the prizes featured above.
Prizes include a gift basket filled with goodies, a Keurig coffeemaker, a flowering tea pot with a cozy throw, and audiobook bundles. Everyone is welcome to stop by for a packet of hot chocolate or apple cider (while supplies last) to kick off their winter reading with a warm drink. Featured below are some of the audiobooks you could possibly win!
While this program is for adults, we do have kids and teen reading programs going on as well! For any questions about the program or if you would like suggestions on what to read, email us at email@example.com or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk on the second floor to speak with a Readers’ Advisor.
One of the joys of having such a strong reading community on the internet is being able to find lists others have curated on specific topics or themes. One such list created and contributed by readers is the Anticipated Literary Reads for Readers of Color for 2014. Below are a few of the titles featured on the list. If you would like to diversify your reading even more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor to speak to a Readers’ Advisor!
The governor has a new electric chamber he wants used, detectives Emily Thompson and Martin Benedetti have a serial killer on the loose they want to find, and a person called the Executioner is out to kill. Set in Naperville, Illinois, Shane Gericke darts between time and characters as he unravels a deadly mystery through the eyes of key players. The story is largely driven by Detective Thompson, who will stop at nothing to catch the killer even though she is still injured from a previous case and her own life is on the line. Cut to the Bone is a suspenseful page-turner where no one is safe.
History comes to life in this darkly haunting narrative of murder, rebellion, and aristocracy. Candace Fleming shares the story of the Romanov family and the lives of the Russian peasant class with the help of diary entries, letters, and photos. The Family Romanov is an intense look at the disparity between wealth and poverty and how this clash ended in violence and political change.
Here’s a challenge for all you list-makers and students of society: choose only one hundred items to represent the entirety of human history. Tough task, right? Members of the British Museum and of the BBC took up this mission and gave themselves a few rules: draw from all time periods, cover the entire world equally, and include the humble everyday as well as great works of art. Director Neil MacGregor compiled the results in A History of the World in 100 Objects. Sure, you’ll find the Rosetta Stone and Bolivian pieces-of-eight, but also making the cut is a modern UAE credit card and a 2001 throne made of weapons from Mozambique. It’s a fascinating way to chart civilization, and you’ll find yourself unearthing more than you expected.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Fantasy and Sci-Fi