A Quiet Summer Read

 quiet-susan-cainEvery year, the V Form officers collaborate with members of the faculty to select a book for the community to read over the summer.  The previous summer reads have covered a wide spectrum of material from Malcolm Gladwell’s examination of sociological factors that contribute to overall success in Outliers, to Nicholas Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s comparison between the oppression of woman and slavery in Half the Sky.

This year, the community read is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  In it, Cain argues that modern society fails to truly assess the abilities of introverted individuals, thus leading to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

The committee narrowed it down to two books: Quiet and I am Malala, the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl and her ongoing fight for the right to education.  “Fairly recently, we did talk about the experience of a girl in Afghanistan and we also did another book about founding schools for girls in Afghanistan,” said Andy Anderson, who is on the committee for choosing the community reads.  “So we felt that maybe a third one in six years is almost focusing too much on one subject.”

Quiet promises to make a splash in the community.  “It’s more accessible,” explained Layla Varkey, one of the current V Form officers. “Groton forces you into a lot of social situations like sit-down and dorm life, so I’m sure it’s hard for those who are more on the quiet side.  We’re trying to reach out to them with this book.”

Susan Cain, who is herself a self-described introvert, is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School and worked as a Wall Street attorney, wrestling with her shyness before penning Quiet, a project that took seven years.  In 2012, she delivered a TED talk, an understandably stressful experience for her.  Cain has since written about the intense preparation she went through before being able to confidently speak publicly, working for six full days with an acting coach prior to the TED Conference.

Quiet reached the number two spot on The New York Times’ Best Seller List and has been given generally good reviews from the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a very interesting book about the contributions of people who are quiet,” said Mr. Anderson. In Quiet, Cain makes a point of addressing the contributions made by introverts.  In today’s society, there is a certain mentality that introverts have very little to say. While the loud leader heads the group, the quiet followers tend to be pushed to the sidelines and ignored, regardless of their opinions.

“What Quiet tries to say is that introverts do have thoughts, they do have meaningful opinions and valuable things to say,” said Robert Gooch, the other V Form officer.  “I think there are a lot of introverts here.  But I think that the book will also make the extroverts think twice, which would be beneficial to the community in more than one way.”

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