A Turtle’s Guide to Introversion – Ton Mak

It’s a well established fact that I’m an introvert. Besides my lived experience, I have also found multiple books that could have been written about me.

I found myself on almost every page of Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World. If my introversion was ever in doubt (it wasn’t), the perfect score I achieved on Jenn Granneman’s signs I might be an introvert in her book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, was a big ‘I told you so’ to any naysayers out there.

If you’re a kindred introvert, you’ll probably get some validation and a reminder that you’re fine just the way you are from this book. If you’ve already read books that talk about introversion on any detail, it’s unlikely you’ll find any new information in this book.

This gift book has cute illustrations. However, I found the colours jarring. I read this book on an iPad; maybe the colours would look better on a different screen. It’s also possible, because I’m mindful that I read an advanced copy, the colour scheme could change prior to publication.

Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A Turtle’s Guide to Introversion is a delightful illustrated gift book that celebrates the wonderful qualities of introverts through the everyday adventures of a turtle.

Being an introvert comes with numerous advantages and the occasional woe, and no animal knows that better than the humble turtle hiding in its shell. This book celebrates introverts and their many wonderful, often-underrated qualities. 

Perfect for introverts and extroverts who are secretly introverts. And for those who likes turtles.

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost – Flavia Z. Drago

I have to be brave.

I have to let the others see me!

Gustavo is such a sweetheart!

This lonely ghost desperately wants to make a friend but he’s too shy to talk to them. Even when he’s near the other monsters, no one sees him.

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Finally, Gustavo comes up with a plan. Even though he’s filled with self doubt in the lead up to the Day of the Dead, Gustavo is determined to be brave.

I love that Gustavo’s plan involves an activity that he enjoys, that he doesn’t try to become someone else in order to get the other monsters to notice him. His courage is rewarded and this little spectral introvert finds not just one friend but many.

The illustrations are so cute, clearly showing the way Gustavo is feeling throughout the story. There are a variety of monsters and plenty of background details to enjoy.

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I’ve already read this book so many times that I’ve lost count. I only wish I had a little monster to read it to.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for introducing me to such an adorable kindred introvert.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This winning debut picture book from Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago about finding the courage to make friends is perfect for the spooky season – or anytime.

Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realises they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves? With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture-book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

On Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person: A guide to boundaries, joy, and meaning – Ilse Sand

On Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person should have had me saying, “Me, too!” on every page. I was really excited to learn some cool new things to celebrate about being an introvert. I haven’t read any books about sensitivity so was hoping for plenty of lightbulb moments. Unfortunately I was disappointed. I felt this book read more as an introduction to introversion and sensitivity rather than an in depth study on either topic.

I expect that if you haven’t read anything about being an introvert you would gain new insights. However I’ve recently read Jenn Granneman’s The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World and Debbie Tung’s graphic novel Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story, and I personally found these previous reads more enlightening and uplifting.

Ilse Sand developed two tests for this book to use as a guide for where you sit on the introvert/extrovert scale and how sensitive you are. By testing myself I wound up with a score of +56 on the introvert/extrovert scale, where +64 is as introverted as you can get, -64 is as extroverted as you can get and around 0 means you’re ambivert (a new word for me). The sensitivity scale is much the same, except +40 is highly sensitive, 0 is moderately sensitive and -40 is ordinarily sensitive. My score for this one was +29. I’m not as introverted or as sensitive as it’s humanly possible to be but I’m right up there so while I think that should’ve converted to a “Me, too!” extravaganza while reading this book, I just didn’t feel it.

There’s nothing that wrong with this book but I lacked a connection with the writing style, which may be due to it having been translated from Danish for this edition. I found some of the sentences and phrasing clunky and there were some instances where I felt the writing could have benefited from another sentence between thoughts to connect them more cohesively.

There were a few parts I found cringeworthy, especially those where it read as though introversion is an excuse to sit on the bench of life rather than it being something to be celebrated. I doubt very much that this was the author’s intention so it may again come down to something being lost in the translation.

I quite enjoyed the information explaining Carl Jung’s work distinguishing personality types, Elaine Aron’s research into the highly sensitive character trait and Jerome Kagan’s studies into high-reactive children.

The author made good use of personal anecdotes and quotes from her work as a parish pastor and psychotherapist. I wondered why it was necessary for some examples to be fictionalised and others used anonymously as there weren’t any skeleton in the closet revelations.

Some readers may baulk at reading this book knowing it was written by an author who has worked as a pastor but I didn’t find it preachy. The examples that included the author’s church were primarily used to explore the differences between the introverted author and the church’s previous extroverted pastor. The serenity prayer was included, as was a reference to making something an idol in your life.

I encountered one of my pet peeves in this book on three occasions that I can recall, where the author tells you that you really need to know something and then rather than telling you this life changing piece of information, they refer you to one of their other books. Personally when someone does that I deliberately avoid the book they’re plugging but that could just be my stubborn showing. If you write a book well then I’ll seek out your other books myself, but if you tease me with the possibility of insight and then rip it away unless I buy another of your books, then I tend to search for that information elsewhere.

The author’s foray into mental health conditions towards the end of the book seemed to come out of left field and as someone who’s experienced PTSD I found the following sentences a tad weird coming from a psychotherapist,

“If you are extremely afraid, for example of the anger of others, you should be aware that you may have PTSD. If you do not remember it, ask your parents whether you were subjected to violence when you were a child.”

People, just because you have fear doesn’t mean you have PTSD but if you do think you may have PTSD please seek help from a medical professional!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In a culture that ranks sociability and extroversion above the introverted traits of deep thinking and being alone, Ilse Sand shows how to find joy and meaning as an introvert or highly sensitive person. She debates whether these traits are caused by nature or nurture, and shows how someone like this can organise their life to keep them content. The advice and instructions are also quite applicable to people who are temporarily or, for some other reason, in a sensitive situation – for example, because of stress, trauma, or burn-out.

It describes the introverted personality type and the highly sensitive trait, highlighting the strengths that come with it such as good listening skills and rich imagination, and suggests ways to overcome the negatives such as the need to avoid overstimulation and over-critical thinking.

Including advice from other introverts or highly introverted people, and two self-tests for sensitive and introverted traits, this book gives readers a deeper understanding of introversion and high sensitivity and gives those with these personality types greater faith and courage in their own talents.

The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World – Jenn Granneman

Not to brag or anything but my platinum Introvert membership card was recently upgraded to diamond status by scoring 100% on Jenn Granneman’s signs I may be an introvert. You’re more than welcome to join our club. We meet in a quiet coffee shop that’s closed to the general public during our meeting once every blue moon when all three of the people of our offshoot of the organisation hasn’t already had too many meetings or been peopled out that week. Actually, you’re more likely to find us at home reading or Netflix and chilling (although chances are we are really binge watching and relaxing) and texting you.

Famous introverts are listed in this book and include J.K. Rowling, Felicia Day, Audrey Hepburn, Dr Seuss, Ernest Hemingway and Steve Wozniak, so if you’ve ever had introvert shame, throw it off and know you’re in excellent company. If you’re not sure if you are an introvert, some of the following may be signs that you are:

“You do your best thinking when you’re alone”

“You often feel lonelier in a crowd than when you’re alone”

“You’re better at writing your thoughts than speaking them”

“You avoid small talk whenever possible”.

If you’re not an introvert yourself then I’m sure you know one. We’re the blur you see escaping social events after our social meter maxes out. We’re the ones who will be incredibly passionate and talk with you at length if you’ve managed to navigate your way through the labyrinth, cross the disintegrating rope bridge suspended above the lava lake and scale the mountain past the dragons to reach our inner core of trust. If you’ll failed to make your way into our inner friendship sanctum then we will most likely struggle to provide a coherent one word answer to your questions. Or maybe that’s just me??

Jenn’s message to the world is that it’s okay to be an introvert. I’ve personally celebrated my introvertism introvertness superstar introvert powers for many years, despite the extrovert evangelists surrounding me telling me I wasn’t good enough, chatty enough, smiley enough, basically any kind of enough. Seriously, they were actual evangelists, pastors even, who loved to tell me in great detail how much I sucked because I didn’t fit their mould. Needless to say, they’re happily hanging out in their mould and I broke away from their abuse abuse (yep, claiming it for what it was) and I’ve never been more at peace with myself than I am now. I definitely don’t see horns on every extrovert’s head. This is just an example of what doesn’t work if you’re an extrovert trying not so subtly to convert an introvert.

In The Secret Lives of Introverts Jenn Granneman takes us on a journey into the minds of introverts everywhere and shines a light on what makes us tick; in our mind, in the workplace, as lovers and friends. We learn that we are even different to extroverts on a neurochemical level. Common misconceptions are myth busted, our strengths are celebrated, and we’re taught how to turn our weaknesses into attributes that work for, not against, us. Yet this book isn’t just aimed at introverts. There are specific sections throughout the book that explain to extroverts why we behave in ways that often baffle them and how they can champion and understand us.

I’m one of those people who practically hiss when labels are thrown about but in this book the introvert/extrovert labels are used to explain, not condemn, and it’s made clear that we all sit along a spectrum. No one is completely one or the other. Carl Jung is quoted in the book as saying,

“Such a person would be in a lunatic asylum.”

My main complaint with this book was that I got sick of hearing about Introvert, Dear, the author’s blog/online publishing platform. I would have much preferred for there to be a disclaimer at the beginning of the book saying that all quotes, mentions of articles and surveys were from this source unless otherwise stated.

Instead it sometimes felt like I was going to read somewhere on each page, “in an Introvert, Dear article” and it started to bug me so much that it got to a point where I wondered whether it would have been more useful for me to visit there to pick and choose articles and areas of interest rather than read the book. I got over my annoyance and decided to make it a game instead, like Where’s Wally? except it was Where’s Introvert, Dear? Perhaps I should have made a rule that allowed me to have a piece of chocolate each time I found the magic words … 🍫🍫🍫

I found there were some chapters that didn’t relate to me or no longer do and it seemed sometimes that the book was aimed at people who are working or in a serious relationship for the first time. However, even the chapters that didn’t personally apply to me still held my interest. I’m a sucker for books referenced in other books so I loved that and now have a list of follow up reads to explore.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

An introvert guide and manifesto for all the quiet ones – and the people who love them.

Is there a hidden part of you that no one else sees? Do you have a vivid inner world of thoughts and emotions that your peers and loved ones can’t seem to access? Have you ever been told you’re too “quiet,” “shy,” “boring,” or “awkward”? Are your habits and comfort zones questioned by a society that doesn’t seem to get the real you? If so, you might be an introvert.

On behalf of those who have long been misunderstood, rejected, or ignored, fellow introvert Jenn Granneman writes a compassionate vindication – exploring, discovering, and celebrating the secret inner world of introverts that, only until recently, has begun to peek out and emerge into the larger social narrative. Drawing from scientific research, in-depth interviews with experts and other introverts, and her personal story, Granneman reveals the clockwork behind the introvert’s mind – and why so many people get it wrong initially.

Whether you are a bona fide introvert, an extrovert anxious to learn how we tick, or a curious ambivert, these revelations will answer the questions you’ve always had:

• What’s going on when introverts go quiet?
• What do introvert lovers need to flourish in a relationship?
• How can introverts find their own brand of fulfillment in the workplace?
• Do introverts really have a lot to say – and how do we draw it out?
• How can introverts mine their rich inner worlds of creativity and insight?
• Why might introverts party on a Friday night but stay home alone all Saturday?
• How can introverts speak out to defend their needs?

With other myths debunked and truths revealed, The Secret Lives of Introverts is an empowering manifesto that guides you toward owning your introversion by working with your nature, rather than against it, in a world where you deserve to be heard.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story – Debbie Tung

Introverts of the world unite! In your home … on your couch or in bed … alone … Just the way we like it!

Debbie Tung has done a brilliant job of turning my biography into a graphic novel. Sure, she got my name wrong and I’m not married to a wonderful extrovert called Jason, but she got everything else spot on so who am I to quibble? Okay, so maybe Quiet Girl in a Noisy World wasn’t written with me specifically in mind, but it could have been! Debbie has totally nailed what being an introvert looks and feels like.

In this graphic novel, we follow Debbie through her final year of college, meeting and marrying an extrovert, navigating the workplace and surviving the nightmare of social interactions, often by using her husband as a social shield. From experiencing doubt about who she is and feeling different from the extroverts surrounding her who thrive on small talk, we see Debbie’s transformation upon learning there’s a word that describes her – introvert. Upon learning more about her tribe, Debbie learns to accept herself as she is and begins to embrace her dreams and passions rather than trying to fit into the extrovert shaped box she’s been struggling to fill.

In a world that seems to be filled with extroverts (probably because all of the introverts are at home or in hiding) introverts outside of their natural habitat can be made to feel like they’re from another planet when forced to interact with more than one person at a time and from another galaxy if even one of those people are a stranger. A stranger in the Dictionary of Introverts could be defined as ‘a person who isn’t a family member, partner or closest friend’.

Debbie is a very talented illustrator and captures the worldview of introverts so well that there will be people safely tucked away in their homes quietly murmuring, “Me, too” as they wander with hope through this graphic novel. I loved that you can just as easily enjoy this book in snippets as you can reading from cover to cover. I adored the use of a battery percentage above Debbie’s head showing how long she has to go before she needs a recharge. Should extroverts want to discover why we introverts act so weird in social situations (and let’s face it, we do!) this is the perfect way to find out because we’ll most likely be too shy to tell you face to face.

Through the wonder of internet anonymity, those who have read a couple of my book reviews most likely already know me better than some people who have been in my life for decades. I know the pain of feeling alone in a roomful of people who are happily making small talk and the comfort of not feeling lonely at all when I get to recharge by myself. My fellow introverts and I must have forgotten to register for Small Talk 101.

If you don’t know me you could be forgiven for wondering if I was born without a voice box. If you’ve managed to find your way through the labyrinth and cracked the code at the end to become a trusted friend then you may wonder if I’ll ever shut up! I guess that’s just one of the many paradoxes of introversion.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel. I love it so much and will be rereading it whenever I need to remind myself that being an introvert can be a strength, not a character flaw.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.