Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney

If you are an introvert (or think you are), you must read The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney, especially if you’ve ever felt like there was something wrong with you. If you are in a relationship with an introvert or your child is an introvert, I highly recommend you read this book too!

So what is an introvert? Laney is clear that being introverted is not the same as being shy, schizoid, highly sensitive or antisocial, although of course these may overlap. She defines introverts as follows:

“Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions and impressions. They are energy conservers. They can be easily overstimulated by the external world, experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of ‘too much.’ . . . They need to limit their social experiences so they don’t get drained.” (p. 19, her italics)

By contrast, “extroverts are energized by the external world—by activities, people, places, and things” (p. 19, her italics). Unlike shyness, for example, which is learned from experience, introversion is hardwired: it is a temperament one is born with. Since 75% of the world is extroverted, extrovert traits tend to be seen as normal, while introvert traits are not.

Laney examines the differences between the brains of introverts and extroverts (which is fascinating stuff) and addresses such issues as relationships, working, socializing and parenting (a section that brought tears to my eyes—I so wish an adult had been able to help me develop better introvert coping strategies as a child).

What amazed me about this book is how much I recognized myself in it. What I thought were my own personal quirks (and failings) turn out to be introvert traits (and not failings at all). If nothing else, Laney’s book gives introverts permission to be who they are and to take care of their own needs without feeling like there is something wrong with them. My only reservations about this book are that the textbook style was sometimes irritating (I thought the “Points to Ponder” sections at the end of each chapter were unnecessary) and I occasionally felt that Laney overstated her case, making introverts out to be more fragile than they are (or at least that she didn’t always take into account that introversion and extroversion are on a continuum, so not all introverts are equally introverted).

This is definitely a book I plan to reread over and over again!

To read other reviews of this book, head over to these blogs:
Better with BooksMt. Hope ChroniclesPhilosophical RamblingsWhat Came Down Today

For a laugh, read this article:
Caring for Your Introvert (perhaps only funny if you’re an introvert—Mr. B, who is an extrovert, was not nearly as amused as I was)

Thank you to Linda at Better with Books for lending me this book.


  1. Thanks for the review. I'm on the wait list at my library for it.

  2. I just saw this book by my bedside this morning...I've had it out for about a week but haven't gotten to it. Your review definitely prompts me to get to it.
    (And I scored 26!)

  3. Sounds like a really interesting book, Avis. I'm surprised at the statistic that 75% of the world is extroverted. I would've guessed less than that. Nice review!

  4. Based on the definition you provided, I think I'm an introvert too. This probably explains why I love blogging ... it can turn it off when I want to!

  5. I read this a while back and enjoyed it. I just took the quiz again and scored a 24...LOL I an surely an introvert!

    Glad u enjoyed this one too.

  6. A friend told me a very simple, one sentence question to answer the I/E question:

    -at the end of a horrible day when you screwed up and your boss yelled at you, do you want to go out with friends and commisserate, or go home and curl up with ice cream and a good book?

    I don't agree witht he 75% number - I think a lot of introverts have worked hard to appear more outgoing. However, as I am a book person, my view may be considerably skewed. The book biz of course is filled with introverts, and yet we manage to happily get along!

    This book sounds fascinating. Thanks for getting it on my radar.

  7. I'm a total introvert! Last year I read and did a short review on Goodreads, of another great book called The Happy Introvert.

    Thanks for your review. I'll have to check this book out.

  8. I hope you enjoy it, Christi. Let me know if you review it!

    Brogan, let me know if you get around to reading this book; I'd love to discuss it with you. I'm surprised you scored higher than me on the introvert quiz!

    Donna, my feeling is that introverts tend to find each other, because I'm sure that more than 25% of the people I know are introverted!

    Jenners, I suspect that blogging tends to attract introverts, especially in the book blogging community.

    Diane, welcome to the club!

    Carin, I'd definitely go for the ice cream and good book! I wondered about that too (about introverts appearing as extroverts); as I said to Donna, I figure introverts also tend to clump together, which may be why we think there are more of us.

    Lynne, thank you for drawing my attention to that book (and your review). I'll have to check to see if my library has it.