A ‘Quiet’ Common Reading

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts, according to the New York Times bestseller “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” The book by Susan Cain was the selection for this year’s Common Reading Program at Rice, and according to Director of First-Year Programs Shelah Crear, the focus on the differences between introverts and extroverts made it a great choice.

“‘Quiet’ was the perfect book to introduce new students to the rigor of intellectual discussions at Rice because of Cain’s provocative take on a topic that is both familiar and relevant to the new student experience,” Crear said. “The Common Reading selection committee felt that ‘Quiet’ would illicit passionate conversations while also teaching students how to listen and learn from peers whose perspectives differ from their own.”

According to Cain, many of the great contributions of society were made by introverts – people like Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss and Steve Wozniak; however, Cain argues that society dramatically undervalues introverts and shows how much is lost in doing so.

In hourlong small-group sessions around campus Aug. 22, students discussed the book with their classmates.

Michael Kidd, a Lovett College freshman, said that he believes the Common Reading is a great way to get new students immersed in Rice.

“It gives us a topic to discuss with each other on a general level, no matter who we are or where we come from,” he said. “I think ‘Quiet’ was a wonderful choice, knowing that there are introverts and extroverts in every situation at Rice.”

Katherine Tees, another Lovett College freshman, said the book taught her more about her own personality.

“I learned a lot about myself and began to understand my counterparts in the spectrum,” she said. “I think a lot of times the key to working with people and getting the most success is understanding where they’re coming from.”

In its eighth year, Rice’s Common Reading Program was established to welcome students to the university’s intellectual community, stimulate conversations across the campus community on pressing issues of the day and introduce new students to the critical inquiry, scholarship and civility they will encounter – and learn to practice – at Rice. The Office of the Dean of Undergraduates sponsors the program.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.