Sonderbooks     Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***The Introvert Advantage

How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.

Reviewed October 1, 2004.
Workman Publishing, New York, 2002.  330 pages.

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, so I already knew I am an introvert.  This book, however, showed me how important that one aspect of personality can be.

With introverted parents, I’ve always felt fairly secure in my introversion.  But I am aware that society tends to criticize us.  I once attended a birthday party for an introverted little girl with an extremely extroverted mother.  The place was crowded with people, and my heart went out to the birthday girl when her dad scolded her for trying to hide in her room.

The basic difference between extroverts and introverts is that extroverts are energized by being with people, and introverts gain energy by being alone.  We still like being with people, but it drains us.  And we enjoy being with people we know more than with strangers.  That’s why I always hated the first day of teaching math classes.

My first college roommate used to argue with me about whether we should do homework with the door to our room open or closed.  That’s the quintessential difference between an extrovert and an introvert.  Incidentally, she went on to become a very successful teacher.

I believe that my husband and two sons are all introverts, to varying degrees, so we don’t have too much conflict over those issues.  My husband, though, is closer to the border between extroversion and introversion.  The other day, having read this book helped me to not feel guilty about staying home when he was going to not one but two parties with his co-workers.  I can enjoy parties, but I also need some time on my own.

My youngest son has taken as his theme song, “I Wanna Stay Home Today.”  He usually enjoys it when we go out and about, but he certainly values time at home.

One thing I don’t like about parties is that I always think about all the stupid things I said.  That’s another difficulty I had with teaching.  This book points out that introverts tend to attach great importance to what is said.  Extroverts, those lucky people, don’t rehearse their words as much as we introverts do.  They can say something and then forget about it. 

This book is on the long side, so you’ll probably enjoy it more if you read it a little bit at a time, but it is interesting and eye-opening.  Even if you are not an introvert gaining insights about yourself, if you have any introverts close to you, this book will help you understand them better.

Reader comment:  One reader gives the book Four Stars, with the comment:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I have learned a great deal from it. In society, the extroverts tend to get all the good press, and it seems as though being introverted is something to be looked down upon. Marti Olsen does a wonderful job of showing the many aspects of being introverted that are usual and beneficial to individuals and society as a whole. After reading this book, I felt blessed to be introverted, and I am thankful for all of the talents that introverts possess. I would definitely read this book again and share it with my introverted friends. This is probably one of my favorite books, and I learned a lot about myself from reading it.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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