Book Club: Quiet (Week 1)

I've joined an online book club by Maneetpaul Singh, exploring introversion and extroversion themes. Reflecting on 'Quiet Strength' and the power of controlled speech, I navigate the nuances of being an introvert in a social world.

· 5 min read
Book Club: Quiet (Week 1)

Have I Finally Found a Book Club Worth Joining?

I've joined a new online book club that I'm quite excited by – though it's my first week and too soon to tell if the discussion will be stimulating and more than just throwing my thoughts out there into the void.

I don't really like YouTube. I don't really consume information well from videos, I prefer to read or to hear something. But sometimes I do watch videos on YouTube when I can't get the information elsewhere, so I came across a YouTuber called Maneetpaul Singh.

He has written some books and I've read one of them: Supercharge Your Reading: How to Use a Kindle to Read More Books and Remember What You Read – it was an enjoyable quick read. (I don't have affiliate links on my site, so if I put something on here, it just means that I think it's worth sharing.)

But much more interesting than this is that he's created an online book club that looks like exactly what I've been searching for:

  1. Not too many books – one per month
  2. Non-fiction
  3. No Zoom calls
  4. Weekly prompts for online discussions

So I'll give it a try. In addition to contributing to the discussions on Maneetpaul's Patreon, I'll share my weekly thoughts here in more depth, just because it's fun to write and I don't want to bombard his group with too much of my ramblings. So here it is – out there for anyone who is interested.

Maneetpaul has called his book club Presently Reading, and you can find out more or join here.

Also check his website out:

Weekly Post (Link)

Prompt: Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Were you ever told it was wrong to be one or the other?

I have always considered myself an introvert, but one who loves debating and chatting and even performing (in some situations). In the quiz, I 'scored' 15/20 on the introvert side of the scale. I feel that I struggle with some internal contradictions and I struggled with some aspects of Cain's descriptions of introversion vs. extroversion.

A general disclaimer: I live in Australia, so this may be very different from others' experiences in the United States (if that's where most people are).

Early in the book, Cain talks about Rosa Parks's autobiography as having a paradoxical name 'Quiet Strength'. I don't think this is paradoxical at all, which is one of my central differences in the experiences that Cain shares and my own. I am often not quiet not because I value being loud, but because I lack the confidence and strength to be quiet. My low self-esteem pushes me to always be re-establishing my value to myself and to others and I do this via intellectual (or humorous) contributions and I often feel ashamed that I've said something I didn't really mean, that I've gotten carried away, that I've offended someone, or that I've been inappropriate. I don't see 'Quiet Strength' as a paradox, I admire those who have the strength to be quiet and see holding one's tongue as one of the most astoundingly difficult and worthwhile virtues to develop.

Here are some Bible verses that capture my thinking:

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. —Proverbs 17:28
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. —Proverbs 21:23
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. —Proverbs 13:3

This is something I've struggled with my whole life. Even though it may have fallen out of favour, I am one of those people who prefer Jung's definition of introverts as those who 'recharge their batteries by being alone' – I feel that it precisely articulates why I happen to be an introvert. There are many different kinds of introverts, but I believe that this is central to all – perhaps I'm wrong and I'll enjoy hearing more of Cain's ideas as we read through.

One of the things in Cain's first chapter that I struggled with is around the idea that introverts are more introspective. Perhaps that is true – but I know plenty of people I would call introverts who are not at all introspective (or at least not in any way that I can detect or understand) and some extroverts who are quite introspective. I think it's possibly right that there is a kind of gravity pulling introverts towards introspection (being alone with one's thoughts leads naturally to introspection) and then for extroverts they are pulled away from it (being able to distract themselves more easily perhaps?).

I find myself at an awkward point somewhere between introvert and extrovert. I need to spend some time with people – after a few weeks of hanging out with nobody, I start to feel like I really need some human contact – but I don't need to see them every day. The Covid lockdowns were for me mostly a really enjoyable experience and I felt a bit of vindication that others were able to finally experience what introverts had always experienced – I felt that the pain that extroverts felt during lockdown is the same pain that introverts feel in a world tailored for the extroverts, so it was nice to see that flip around for a bit. In social settings, I feel a _pressure_ to perform, to be the centre of attention, not to fade into the background and I greatly admire people who are comfortable enough with themselves to sit back and observe, so in this sense, social activities are very draining for me and I much prefer smaller groups to larger ones. And when I am alone, or with one or two close friends, I feel comfortable and can spend hours there.

Because of how I behave in social settings, I have received a lot of criticism for being too loud or talking too much. I have finally started to feel a bit more peace in myself to the point where I am able to really listen to others more and more, though this has been a long journey and one I will be on for a long time still. I've never been criticised for being too quiet and I respect people who are more quiet than I am. But when someone is too quiet, I find that a challenge – it almost comes across as selfish to me like they think I'm not worth putting the effort in to sharing a part of themselves, or they simply cannot be bothered helping me out with my problem. So the quiet strength that I see for introverts is those who don't speak when they have nothing to say but who do speak (and speak freely) when they do have something to say. I wish I had more of that myself.

My Favourite Quotes