An Ode To My Readers

Screen Shot 2013 02 21 at 1.53.24 PM An Ode To My Readers

Photographer: Genevieve Lee | Elmhurst College

As many of you know, I’m on a whirlwind book tour for the QUIET paperback. So far I’ve visited NYC, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Kansas City, and Denver. Having now spent many evenings in succession with you, my readers, I would like to tell you about the way you transform a public space, about your power to infuse a setting with your quiet strength.

At every event the mood has been thoughtful, sincere, caring. Before the events began, you waited patiently. As I spoke, you listened intently. After I finished, you rose from your seats to ask intelligent questions- no grandstanding, no speaking to draw attention to yourself. You asked questions because you had questions to ask — for no greater or lesser reason than that. And then, when all the formal talking was done, as I signed your books, you told me your own stories — one inspiring tale after another.

cainschwartz1 2 An Ode To My Readers

Myself & Dr. Carl Schwartz

In Boston, I did another Q and A at the Harvard Bookstore, this one with the great Carl Schwartz, the Harvard Medical School researcher I profiled in Chapter 4 of QUIET. After it was over, he surveyed the crowd and remarked,

“This is the 30%. Here they are. Imagine if they ruled the world.”

I nodded, touched.

Of course, I don’t really think the 30% should rule the world, and I’m sure that neither does Dr. Schwartz. We both know that we need both kinds.

But that night, it was hard not to love the 30%.* 

*NOTE: Dr. Schwartz used the 30% statistic for the number of introverts in the population. Other studies suggest that the percentage is closer to 50%.

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  1. Steve Woodruff on 22.02.2013 at 10:10 (Reply)

    Maybe we need an introvert “quota system” for government leaders!!! :>)

  2. Rich Day on 22.02.2013 at 10:38 (Reply)

    I have a feeling of great warmth also. Genisis chapture 1, the great metaphor of creation forms how I see people. And what I see from this chapture is that the entire created universe, this vast and beauty filled space, was nothing more than God laying out his great pallet, and then, then he created his masterpiece! A counsious, percieving, human soul. All of this he created, just to lay brush strokes of beauty in a percieving mind. And so great was this beauty, that he created all kinds of minds, and each though different, sees, percieved, thinks, wills, and says as he said, “It is good!” Martin Buber said of a percieving soul, “The entire universe is lit by his gaze”. The warmth that I feel is formed by all of these people beginning to become aware of the masterpiece they each are. To value their unique views, to find their own voice.

  3. Martha Dewing on 22.02.2013 at 12:05 (Reply)

    Such a beautiful reflection on what you’ve observed. Thank you, Susan.

  4. Rich Day on 22.02.2013 at 12:07 (Reply)

    please excuse my typos. Where is that edit button?

  5. Michelle F. on 22.02.2013 at 23:04 (Reply)

    I was one of the 30% that night. Thank you for coming to see us, and for bringing Dr. Schwartz with you. :)

    1. Susan Cain on 23.02.2013 at 00:00 (Reply)

      Were you the person who wrote the beautiful card and brought the gift, which now has pride of place on my desk? I have been wanting to thank you but you left no address!

  6. Christian on 25.02.2013 at 08:36 (Reply)

    Well said as usual Susan. How wonderful to be surrounded by so many like minded people. We are “your” people and you are ours. :)

    Thank you for writing your book and for being courageous enough to do all of the public speaking that goes along with promoting it.

    You truly are an inspiration.

  7. Leo on 25.02.2013 at 11:58 (Reply)

    During research it was noted by analysing list of Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics that almost all of them are either Voltaire, Darwin or Lincoln type men. Gradually it was comed to conclusion that Darwin, Lincoln and Voltaire types have different imagination type which allows more complex analysation of complex concepts and coming up with new theoretical models. This imagination type was called theoretical imagination.

    Generally individuals of all human types (only Norton type is exception) are currently actively involved in science. Especially Bronson and Ramses types are extremely active but absolute majority of big contributions to scientific breakthroughs are made by Lincoln, Darwin and Voltaire type men. It must be noted that downside of theoretical imagination is disorder of imagination called schizophrenia (Schizophrenia happens to Voltaire and Darwin type men. Lincoln type men do not have imagination disorders or there is no sufficient data) therefore having theoretical imagination is not always advantage.

    Ramses, Bronson and Plato types often overcomplicate science by overusing mathematics and complicated language without making big new discoveries or very significant valuebable contributions in scientific fields. It does not mean that Bronson, Plato and Ramses type scientists do not produce valuable contributions in science, but the amount of it is much smaller. On the other hand in language related fields like programming and mathematics Ramses, Bronson and Plato types perform very good because these fields require strong auditory system.

    Naturally theoretical imagination itself does not guarantee that a scientist will achieve any significant scientific accomplishment or will come with valid scientific theory. Scientific work requires hard dedication, broad set of knowledge, open mind and continuuos mental fitness.

    It must be noted that in East Asian countries (like Japan and China) from time to time there are notions that despite huge investments into the fields of science and education these countries still fall behind western countries in terms of scientific productivity and number of new patents (when compared to such countries like USA or UK). East asian people even sometimes called “less creative” because of this fact but this actually has nothing to do with “lack of creativity” in general population. This happened because in east Asian countries Darwin type minority has literally to carry a burden of scientific research on their shoulders because Voltaire and Lincoln types do not exist in east Asian societies.

    It must be noted that without human types with theoretical imagination such rapid industrial revolution that happened in 19th and 20th centuries would have never happened.

    Here’s the list of some notable scientists with theoretical imagination:

  8. Shira Klapper on 26.02.2013 at 14:41 (Reply)

    Hi Susan- I am writing because I wrote an article in The Atlantic this morning on the experience of being an introvert at bat-mitzvahs in 1980′s Long Island. It is my first published piece and I am so excited about it!
    I was wondering if you might be interested in tweeting about the article in order to offer your readers a teenage perspective on introversion, albeit from the era of Michael Jackson and Material Girl.

    Here is my article:

    (I apologize if this was the wrong forum in which to contact you- I was unable to find an e-mail on this site).

    Thank you!
    Shira Klapper

  9. Jennifer on 02.03.2013 at 16:41 (Reply)

    Susan, I just finished your book. I hope you will be touring in Los Angeles, I would love to attend. I am a psychiatrist, and a definite introvert. I absolutely loved your book. It inspired some further thoughts/reflections for me. I think the pharmaceutical companies have capitalized on providing extraversion in pill form, there are so many different pills being prescribed!. Instead of medication, I think the answer for many people is to find an environment which suits their comfort level of stimulation. This is a struggle for me as well. I get so drained after spending an entire day talking to people, I have learned that I am not capable of doing this work full-time because it is too overstimulating. My fantasy is to become a writer and spend quiet nights at home thinking and creating, and working part-time. After reading your book I understand my experience a lot better. Thank you!

  10. Video brochure on 08.03.2013 at 02:07 (Reply)

    I was one of the 30% that night. Thank you for coming to see us, and for bringing Dr. Schwartz with you.

  11. okiroger on 11.05.2013 at 06:58 (Reply)

    I have been writing reviews of the book to my daughters as I have been reading it. The following is excerpted from the review covering the last of the book:

    Susan talks about how one can temporarily alter one’s behavior to be more extrovertive as long as one can appropriately retreat to their place of comfort at some point. She gives an example of a popular professor who is like a burlesque performer or comedian in the classroom but who prefers to live remotely in the Canadian woods and abhors social events. Such people may exist but I have no ability to relate to them. It takes an ability to act out of character that I don’t comprehend. I suppose though that many people in public life are actors and if you knew them in depth you would see who they really are. I know this to be true of a number of well thought of personalities in Raleigh. I believe it is better to act with continuity as to the person you are. To do otherwise is a lie. The lie is the tool of evil.

    Susan has done a lot of research and makes a number of good points. She speaks to the value of introverts. She touches lightly on values but doesn’t really get into the issues of faith which is where values are deeply ingrained and in conflict with those of other faiths. I think that every author writing on issues touching on morality should state their faith. You need to know that to see where they are coming from. I would guess that Susan is probably a secular Jew. I come to that conclusion since she mentions a grandfather who was a rabbi and the fact that she implicitly accedes to evolution.

    If one is really a Christian for example one accepts the main tennant of the faith which is sacrificial love. The main faith in the US currently I would say is humanism which believes in no intelligence greater than man. The humanists may give lip service to some of the Christian values but they really don’t carry them in their essence. They accept evolution by natural forces as the mechanism of creation. Evolution is about self exaltation and is diametrically opposed to sacrificial love. The two don’t really comfortably mix in a social setting because there will be a conflict of values. When two such value systems interact the sacrificial system will by definition lose out to the self exalting system. The sacrificial system views will be drowned out and diminished or obliterated. Extroverts and introverts can be present in both systems but it is the aggressive extroverts of the humanist system that will rule the day as these two systems clash. This is painfully (for Christians) evident in the US today. As the aggressive extroverts gain power and dominion over others they will grow that by including people only of their own value system until the societal structure becomes so painful or unwieldy that it falls of its own weight or is overthrown.

    I think there is some connection of introversion to faith issues. One who has a genetic and/or experiential disposition toward introversion will more likely be stuck in that mode if one is for example of the Christian faith vs one who considers it acceptable to aggress on others.

  12. Maureen on 23.05.2013 at 23:55 (Reply)

    Oh, I didn’t know you were coming to Chicago! I could just cry. Your book has really impacted my life! I wish I could have met you and thanked you in person.

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Quiet: The Book

- Wall Street Journal

Best Nonfiction Book of 2012

QUIET has been voted the best nonfiction book of 2012


1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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