The general consensus on introverts is that they have it rough. Beyond the everyday trials of being human, introverts are thought of as insecure, always be fighting against uncertain silences and big personalities. That’s not the case, though. Being more comfortable in small groups, deliberating over your words, and preferring alone time is not something to be pitied, but to be celebrated. Writers have been doing so since the dawn of time. Like many stereotypes, this (incorrect) idea of introverts only exists because people keep reinforcing it. These four books – two emotional, two cerebral – help to set the record straight on what it really means to be introverted.
Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts by Susan Cain
No writer today is a bigger champion of introversion than Susan Cain. Her second book on the subject, geared towards the crucially vulnerable adolescent demographic, defends introverted tendencies through scientific studies and experiences from real teens. It’s not simply an exhalation of the shy-guys and girls, though; Cain makes a concerted effort to find a middle ground for all personality types. Quiet Power (and her first book Quiet) help their young readers navigate the push-pull of outgoing and reserved personalities at a critical point in life.
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman is a luscious poet, able to dive deep into sensory details without losing the emotional thread. In classic introvert style, she muses over universal, animal instincts (Why does music move us? How did kissing on the mouth begin?) with a sincerely personal, human perspective. What makes Ackerman stand out in this pursuit is her control, her demonstration of how to wonder without wandering. A Natural History of the Senses is one of her most refined works, and an outstanding example of the inner thoughts of an introvert, expressed clearly.
Walden; Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Of course this book is on this list. It’s the first and last word on self-reliance, on transcendentalism, on self-actualization. Thoreau’s two-year stint in a self-made cabin off Walden Pond is practically a manual on how the introvert interacts with his world. Thoreau’s uncertainty and curiosity over his social experiment give way to clarity and confidence. It’s encouraging to have a written affirmation that time spent alone can be on equal footing, if not more spiritually fulfilling, than anything else.
Subliminal: How Your Conscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow
Introverts are often accused of being “too heady” and “over-thinking”, and often they can’t quite express their reasons why. Leonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal does it for them – and without apologizing. Mlodinow’s exhaustive research picks at the unpredictable and occasionally combative relationship between the conscious and the subconscious. Heavy as that sounds, the author’s genius exploration of perception, thought process and misinformation is balanced by his witty, grounded tone.
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