No matter how busy my schedule gets, reading great books is always on my to-do list. This month, I’m excited to share books that not only focus on introverts, but also celebrate the power of the introvert lifestyle. There are so many good books, and so little time to enjoy them, but on the off chance that you’re already done with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, never fear because we’ve got your Summer Introvert Reading List.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
I’ve recommended this book before, but if you haven’t read it, it’s basically the introvert bible, thereby earning its place on any list for introvert books. Quiet is a must read for not only introverts, but extroverts and ambiverts, too. This is the book that brought the introvert mindset and lifestyle into the mainstream. It helped us to stop feeling guilty about needing downtime, and gave us the language to be able to talk about our introversion with others. Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, read it now!
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create, but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society—from van Gogh’s sunflowers, to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 20th century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.
Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships, to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”
This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms— Beth L. Buelow
Even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, I would recommend this book. I listened to this book during my first quarter of grad school and found so much inspiration. I admit that sometimes I use introversion as an excuse to not do what I should. Excuses such as: I’m tired. I’m drained. It’s like introversion is an illness that I can use to opt out of life. This book highlights those inclinations, identifying fear as the background motivator. Get over yourself, it counsels. Dreams require effort, and introversion is not an excuse to avoid the necessary tasks required for success. Sometimes you need to hear that. Sometimes you need to have your feelings acknowledged, and then told to get back to work. No matter what you are trying to achieve, this book helps you to find strength in who you are, while also moving you forward on your goals. I’m keeping this one around to re-read again soon.
Think you have to be loud and brash to be successful in business? Think again. The strengths and traits of the typical introvert lend themselves well to entrepreneurship as well as “intrapreneurship” and a range of business roles.
In The Introvert Entrepreneur, professional coach Beth Buelow shows listeners how to harness their natural gifts (including curiosity, independence, and a love of research) and counteract their challenges (such as an aversion to networking and self-promotion). She addresses a wide range of topics – from managing fears and expectations and developing a growth mind-set to networking, marketing, leadership skills, and community building – informed by interviews with introverts who have created successful businesses without compromising their core personalities. Filled with fresh insights and actionable advice, this essential guide will support anyone who’s striving to make a difference in a loud and chaotic world.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation—Rebecca Traister
This book isn’t specifically about introversion, it’s about interpersonal relationships, but while not specific to introversion, it discusses the many types of relationships women have. If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen me recommend this book back in February, but I wanted to recommend it more formally. I, for one, wasn’t ready for the emotional roller-coaster ride that this book took me on. Introverts take relationships with others seriously since they can be such drains on us, so it’s important to learn about how humans interact with one another. The book not only uses a lot of research, but also shares many personal stories of the authors and other women, so while you may not agree with everything, this book certainly gets you to examine your life and relationships.
In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award finalist Rebecca Traister, “the most brilliant voice on feminism in this country” (Anne Lamott), traces the history of unmarried women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation.
For legions of women, living single isn’t news; it’s life. In 2009, the award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister started All the Single Ladies – a book she thought would be a work of contemporary journalism – about the 21st-century phenomenon of the American single woman. This was the year that the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent, and the median age of first marriages, which had remained between 20 and 22 years old for nearly a century (1890-1980), had risen dramatically to 27.
But over the course of her vast research, and more than 100 interviews with academics, social scientists, and prominent single women, Traister discovered a startling truth: The phenomenon of the single woman in America is not a new one. And historically, when women were given options beyond early heterosexual marriage, the results were massive social change – temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more. Today, only 20 percent of Americans are wed by age 29, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal”.
All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, and sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister’s signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins’ When Everything Changed.
Dreamers Pool: Blackthorn and Grim—Juliette Marillier
This is the only fiction book on the list, but I had to include it because the characters are so fresh and so introverted. I’ll be honest, I figured out the overall plot of the story pretty early on, but enjoyed reading as the characters figure the mystery out themselves. And, of course, I wanted to see if I was right. The main protagonist, Blackthorn, is one tough, cool, introverted woman, who still has a caring heart, underneath her pretense of not caring. It just goes to show you that introversion doesn’t mean you hate people – well, not much. Dreamer’s Pool is something fun to listen to this summer after all the heavier reading material recommended above. It’s dark humor with a fantasy flair.
Award-winning author Juliet Marillier “weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland…
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help. Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.
With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.