The best books to understand personality and who you are

Who am I?

I’ve always been a talker. In the fourth grade my teacher, L. Wood, wrote on my report card, “Mark is a good worker. He is well adjusted and is well-liked in the classroom and on the playground. Mark needs to control himself when he likes to speak out too frequently.” Some things (personality) never change. Now, sixty years later with the help of my doctor, I’m working on it. I've been trying to understand myself, and others for most of my life. Using Nettle's descriptors I could be called a confident, callous, Poet Wanderer. Now, in my seventies, and having written three books about it - I'm beginning to get it.


I wrote...

Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate

By Mark Jabbour,

Book cover of Election 2016: The Great Divide, the Great Debate

What is my book about?

Election 2016 is gritty, thought-provoking, and a well-written account of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. Also, just how that happened. At once it's a masterful character study of Trump (a quintessential extrovert), and an intriguing, entertaining analysis of the psychology of tribalism and power. Those three elements combine to enable humans to dominate the planet like no other species. But they also threaten to tear us apart to the point of extinction.

Election 2016 is a day-by-day, month-by-month, real-time examination of the triumph of Trump. The book also considers the future we find ourselves in and what could happen. As Trump may once again become president, this book is a must-read. Because we don’t want to end up like Russia and Ukraine.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Mark Jabbour Why did I love this book?

My doctor and therapist, a clinical Psychologist, recommended I read this book. Because she thought it would help me understand people who are fundamentally different from me - introverts. She was right. This book opened my eyes to an entirely novel way of experiencing the environment. I am an extrovert.

I have been called "pig-headed, arrogant, narcissistic, [and] just like your father." This, by a woman I once loved. Okay, by more than one. My doctor doesn’t disagree.

Susan Cain's book is important. She wrote it to empower introverts. However, I think extroverts should also read it. Quiet could be taken as a screed against extroverts. Cain asserts the world's problems are the result of extroverts being in charge. Because we're loud, intense, and domineering. That's without a doubt partly true for the reasons she lays out.

I don't agree with all of Cain's assumptions and conclusions. Nevertheless, the book dramatically helped me see the peopled world more clearly. It has helped me to adjust my behavior to a more compassionate and accommodating approach. Quiet can help us all to live more balanced lives, and thus make the world a better place.

By Susan Cain,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Quiet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SUSAN CAIN'S NEW BOOK, BITTERSWEET, IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW

A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE HOW YOU SEE INTROVERTS - AND YOURSELF - FOREVER.

Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can't name and don't understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we're embarrassed.

That fact is whether we're an introvert or an extrovert.

The most fundamental dimension of personality, at least a third of us are introverts, and yet shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as…


Book cover of Training to Be Myself: An Indulgent Odyssey of Obsessions, Confessions, and Curiosities

Mark Jabbour Why did I love this book?

Full confession: the author is my son, Jake Jabbour. This is a memoir written in 2017 about the death of my father, his grandfather. They were close. My father died in October 2016, three weeks before the election of Donald Trump as POTUS. Subsequently, in the spring of 2017, we had a service for The Colonel. That's when this story begins.

After the service, Jake broke up with his girlfriend and embarked on a train trip across America. The reason was to teach and perform Improvisation Comedy. During that sixteen-day journey, Jake attempts to make sense of all that has happened. Moreover, to reflect on who he is. It's beautifully written, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

Jake identifies as an INFJ. Which stands for Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging. It designates one of sixteen personality types per the Myers-Briggs Personality Type indicator test. My doctor doesn't give the MBTI much credence. However, a lot of people and businesses do. I score as an ESTJ.

The subject matter and characters of my book and TTBM are similar. But come from disparate perspectives and personalities.

By Jake Jabbour,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Training to Be Myself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At thirty-three, comedian and educator Jake Jabbour found himself living alone after a breakup with his girlfriend and burying his grandpa. His most impactful relationships ended, stripping from him his identities as a roommate, boyfriend, and grandson. Hoping to discover who he was when he wasn’t himself, Jake boarded an Amtrak train with his comedy partner to perform live improv across the country, from Los Angeles to New York, examining the trials, tragedies, and triumphs of his past that landed him alone in the most crowded cities in the country.

In the lineage of Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live…


Book cover of Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are

Mark Jabbour Why did I love this book?

This book is the best description of the general consensus of personality today. The book describes the concept of OCEAN, or the Big Five personality indicators. OCEAN stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

I like this book because it's not overdone. Nettle simplifies the complex - the Big Five. Chapter headings are: "Wanderers"; "Worriers"; "Controllers"; "Empathizers"; and "Poets". One word descriptors for persons who typically represent each trait.

Nettle does go into detail about clusters of traits and behaviors that characterize each type. Extroverts are Wanderers, generally optimistic, positive, and adventuresome. Introverts are aloof and can be Worriers, generally pessimistic, negative, and risk-averse. Or said another way - stay-at-homes, stick-in-the-muds, grounded individuals who could be happy being the way they are.

The one-word descriptors along with their opposites can be a fun and useful way to think about people. Such as novelist Lee Child's protagonist, Jack Reacher. Reacher could be described as a confident, callous, Controlling Wanderer.

By Daniel Nettle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why do some people seem good at empathising, and others at controlling? We have something deep and consistent within us that determines the choices we make and the situations we bring about. But why should members of the same species differ so markedly in their natures? What is the best personality to have; a bold one or a shy one, an aggressive one or a meek one? And are you stuck with your personality, or can you
change it?

Daniel Nettle takes the reader on a tour through the science of human…


Book cover of American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan

Mark Jabbour Why did I love this book?

I like this book because it's a case study of what can go wrong. If one doesn't know who they are. The consequences can have harmful effects. Not only for the person but for others as well. That is the definition of pathology - having a harmful impact.

The authors do a masterful job of explaining Bergdahl's personality. He was diagnosed as having a schizotypal personality disorder and never sought treatment. Using Daniel Nettle's Big Five personality indicators descriptors, Bergdahl can be described as a Worried, out-of-control, Wanderer.

By Matt Farwell, Michael Ames,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Cipher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The explosive narrative of the life, captivity, and trial of Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was abducted by the Taliban and whose story has served as a symbol for America's foundering war in Afghanistan

"An unsettling and riveting book filled with the mysteries of human nature." -Kirkus

Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl left his platoon's base in eastern Afghanistan in the early hours of June 30, 2009. Since that day, easy answers to the many questions surrounding his case-why did he leave his post? What kinds of efforts were made to recover him from the Taliban? And why, facing a…


Book cover of Sometimes a Great Notion

Mark Jabbour Why did I love this book?

This is a novel published by Ken Kesey in 1964. Not only is it one of the best books to understand personality, but it is one of the best novels ever. It tells the story of an American family whose patriarch, Henry Stamper, is a classic narcissist. Stamper could be described as a confident, callous, Controlling Wanderer. He is an independent logger and owns his home and business on a river on the central coast of Oregon. He defies the small town, his neighbors, and the national union. His behavior ultimately leads to much pain and suffering. However, Henry has a good time.

The writing is poetic and insightful. All the characters' personalities are well fleshed out. It is the story of America coming of age in the '50s and '60s. Today, sixty years later, America's culture is changing; but personalities remain as they've always been. Personality is the bedrock of being human.

By Ken Kesey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sometimes a Great Notion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The magnificent second novel from the legendary author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sailor Song is a wild-spirited and hugely powerful tale of an Oregon logging clan.

A bitter strike is raging in a small lumber town along the Oregon coast. Bucking that strike out of sheer cussedness are the Stampers: Henry, the fiercely vital and overpowering patriarch; Hank, the son who has spent his life trying to live up to his father; and Viv, who fell in love with Hank's exuberant machismo but now finds it wearing thin. And then there is Leland, Henry's bookish younger…


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The Fornax Assassin

By J.C. Gemmell,

Book cover of The Fornax Assassin

J.C. Gemmell Author Of The Fornax Assassin

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Inclusive What-if worrier Eco-warrior Mountain trekker Ten-mile runner

J.C.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In 2038 a devastating pandemic sweeps across the world. Two decades later, Britain remains the epicenter for the Fornax variant, annexed by a terrified global community.

David Malik is as careful as any man to avoid contact with the virus. But when his sister tests positive as an asymptomatic carrier, she must relocate to Fornax Island to join the isolated population of contagious untreatables. Fortunately, the British prime minister’s latest manifesto includes reintegrating the islanders with the nation. Yet, he does not survive a visit to Fornax Island to unveil his new policies.

The military suspects one of its junior officers is responsible for his death. Malik seizes his chance to represent the possible assassin, allowing him to protect his sister. Yet within days of taking on the case, he finds himself accused of masterminding the assassination. 

The Fornax Assassin

By J.C. Gemmell,

What is this book about?

2038: a devastating pandemic sweeps across the world. Two decades later, Britain remains the epicentre for the fornax variant, annexed by a terrified global community.

David Malik is as careful as any man to avoid contact with the virus. But when his sister tests positive as an asymptomatic carrier, she must relocate to Fornax Island to join the isolated population of contagious-untreatables.

Fortunately, the British prime minister’s latest manifesto includes reintegrating the islanders with the nation. Yet, he does not survive a visit to Fornax Island to unveil his new policies.

The military suspects one of its junior officers is…


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Interested in extraversion and introversion, Afghanistan War, and personality?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraversion and introversion, Afghanistan War, and personality.

Extraversion And Introversion Explore 25 books about extraversion and introversion
Afghanistan War Explore 21 books about Afghanistan War
Personality Explore 17 books about personality