It’s February and in honor of Black History Month I decided to read a book by a Black author. While I specialized in Afro-Caribbean thought in my university studies (wow, that’s one of the more pretentious things I’ve typed in a while,) I’ve read very little African American literature. Enter Maya Angelou.
I borrowed this book from my mom, and I could not put it down. From my understanding, Angelou wrote numerous autobiographies and this one chronicled her childhood in Arkansas, St. Louis, and San Fransisco. Angelou’s accounts are at times hilarious and heart-warming; other stories are heart-breaking and intense.
I found Angelou’s writing style to be simple, yet beautiful. I moved quickly through her book and was emotionally moved on several occasions. Her book recounts the difficulty of growing up in a segregated town in the deep south, the instability of her own family, and the relationships that had a lasting impact on her life. If you haven’t read this one already, you should.
Maya Angelou. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Ballentine Books, 2009 (first published in 1969).
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking had been on my reading list for a few years. After watching Susan Cain’s TED Talk in college, I became committed to learning more about introversion, since I classify myself as an extreme introvert. Cain’s book was a wonderful complement to her Talk, as it delved deeper into the psychological characteristics of introverts.
At first glance, this may not seem like the most enthralling book, especially for you crazy extroverts. However, Cain discusses the importance of introverts in today’s world and looks at how extroverts can better understand and interact with the introverts in their lives. She uses stories to highlight the ways in which introverts experience the world and examines the way American society values extroversion over introversion.
Quiet was a quick read for me and I found myself identifying with so many of the people Cain introduced. From the introverted child who became overwhelmed at school, to the introverted woman who sacrificed her emotional needs to better suit her extroverted partner, Cain’s examples were well chosen. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to introverts who sometimes wonder how to fit into extroverted society. If you’re an extrovert, give Quiet a chance: you undoubtedly share your life with an introvert, and Cain’s work will help you appreciate them more.
Susan Cain. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Crown Publishing Group/ Random House, Inc. 2012.