The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World
Skyhorse Publishing, July 2016
216 pp; $14.99
Buy: paperback | eBook
Reviewed by Aaron Sommers
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain described “an omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight.” This—she lamented—was the “Extrovert Ideal.” Cain reprimanded a culture that rewards this personality type while short-changing its bashful sister on the other side of the spectrum.
Quiet became a sensation. Cain’s work landed on the cover of Time and her 2012 TED talk rocketed to record-setting status. In 2016, she released Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts, an adaptation of Quiet for children and teens. It turns out these wallflowers have a lot to say.
In The Irresistible Introvert: Harness The Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World, Michaela Chung presents an engaging, first-hand account of life as an introvert—including some harrowing details from her teenage years. She was an eye-catching yet standoffish adolescent. The contradiction vexed her peers who insisted she “come out of her shell.” Chung bristled at the suggestion, opting instead to don an “invisibility cloak.”
She preferred to see without being seen.
As she sees it, all introverts need solitude and share an aversion to adulation, so it makes sense she’d have one in her wardrobe. Extroverts might prefer a pair flashy of Air Jordans, but introverts will always settle with down-to-earth Converse All Stars.
Throughout her book, Chung reiterates the differences between extroverts and introverts, but eschews any claims of advantageousness. One person exults in a bar with his riotous friends while another broods in a library without anyone interrupting her. They’ll use different taps to distill pleasure from our world, but at the end of the night both find contentment.
As long as they don’t try dating each other.
A lot of The Irresistible Introvert hinges on testimony and anecdotes, but Chung’s done her homework, too. She peppers her book with a judicious breakdown of some research on introverts. Studies show they prefer email over texting. They’re often creative, but thin-skinned and prone to neuroticism. In relationships, they’re passionate, yet aloof.
The last three sections of Chung’s book are an insightful look at the dichotomy introverts encounter on romantic pursuits. They need people as much as anyone else—the problem is finding the right person. She explains how introverts communicate, interpret intimacy, and often fall into a vicious cycle of guilt.
Similar to Quiet, The Irresistible Introvert considers introversion the personality type ubiquitous among writers. That’s hardly revelatory. Lots of alone time for introspection in your own peaceful hide-away. The prospect alone is enough to make an introvert swoon.
Aaron Sommers is a writer living in New Hampshire. His fiction has appeared in The Berkeley Fiction Review and The Olive Tree Review, among others. There’s more about him at www.aaronsommers.com. He can be followed @aaronsommers.