Quiet is a discussion of what introverts are, why they are the way they are, and how introverts can navigate in a culture and society that tends to favor extroverts (if you doubt this, watch the Presidential coverage for a few days, or any celebrity) Quiet starts with a Manifesto for Introverts; it starts with the statement that people who are "in their heads too much" are thinkers, and ends the ten point list with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi-"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." Quiet lists a small collection of things we would not have if we didn't have introverts-the theories of gravity and relativity, Yeats's "The Second Coming", Chopin's nocturnes, Proust's "In Search of Lost Time", Peter Pan, "1984 " and "Animal Farm", The Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown, "Schindler's List", "E.T.", and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", Google, and Harry Potter (bonus points if you can name all of the introverts these are attributed to).
Quiet discusses the historical shift from attributes to be developed such as citizenship, duty, honor, morals, and integrity to qualities to be had such as magnetism, attractiveness, dominant or forceful personalities espoused by Dale Carnegie. From the historical shift to an emphasis placed on personality traits more commonly found in an extroverted individual's repertoire, Quiet moves into the science of personality types, and why some people may be introverted- how the brain reacts to stimulation, for example. Introverts tend to be more sensitive to stimulation, and over stimulated easily, therefore an introvert may seek out a quiet corner at a gathering, or choose not to go to a crowded event.
After a thorough exploration of the science behind introversion, Quiet compares Western culture to Asian culture-do all cultures have what is referred to as the "extrovert ideal"? The difference can be summed up in two of the proverbs in the book: "The wind howls, but the mountain remains still" and "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". It isn't difficult to identify which is from a Western culture, and which is the Japanese proverb. In this part of the book, the discussion also examines the difficulty that someone from a culture that values introvert qualities may have in adjusting to the Western "extrovert ideal", in which skill is assumed for someone who speaks forcefully and confidently, even if they aren't qualified for the position (a tale that has played out many, many times in the current political and business climates).
The final part of Quiet focuses on relationships between introverts and extroverts (a marriage between a party loving extrovert and an introvert who loves nothing more than a good book and a quiet evening at home can become strained over time if each person expects the other to go along with what they want) and on the challenges of parenting and teaching introverted children-it is a sad statement that most educational systems also favor extroverted traits over more introverted traits (many teachers grade class participation and a student's willingness to speak up as a matter of course, and many elementary school grade cards still contain marks for how well a child interacts with others).
There are small quizzes found throughout the book, as well as personal anecdotes and details of Cain's interactions and research. I recommend this book not only for introverts-those who prize quiet time, who need more time to recover after a social event, who prefer to sit back and listen, and who would rather have all of the information before making a decision, but also for extroverts, especially those who are close to an introvert.