The best extraversion and introversion books

9 authors have picked their favorite books about extraversion and introversion and why they recommend each book.

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Quiet

By Susan Cain,

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

I felt like this book peered into my soul. I count myself among the 70 percent of highly sensitive people who are also introverted. That means I need time to think before I act and more space to adjust to changes. I tend to be more reflective, serious, and dislike being observed and being the center of attention. Before reading Quiet, I assumed that these qualities were character faults. But now I understand that they are not only part of my wiring, but that they can also be my greatest superpowers. I love Cain’s use of engaging stories and research. It makes for an immersive read. 


Who am I?

As a human behavior professor, award-winning executive coach, and trained therapist, I’ve spent the last decade helping thousands of high-achieving, highly sensitive professionals discover ways to enjoy their success without self-doubt, stress, and emotional overwhelm. I’m a highly sensitive person myself, so I intimately understand what it’s like to navigate the world as a deep thinker and feeler. Trust Yourself is the actionable guide I wish I had had as a big-feeling, driven person trying to find my way in my career and figure out how to believe in myself in the process.


I wrote...

Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

By Melody Wilding,

Book cover of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work

What is my book about?

Being highly attuned to your emotions, your environment, and the behavior of others can be the keys to success, but they can also lead to overthinking everything and burnout. Trust Yourself offers concrete steps to help you break free from stress, perfectionism, and self-doubt so you can find the confidence to work and lead effectively. Learn to: achieve confidence and overcome imposter syndrome; find your voice to speak and act with assertiveness; build resilience and bounce back from setbacks; and enjoy your success without sacrificing your well-being.

Quiet Power

By Susan Cain,

Book cover of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids

I discovered this nonfiction book as an adult and can imagine the thrill of fellow introverts who get to read it as kids and see themselves celebrated within its pages. We’re not shy people who will eventually grow out of our shells; we’re born to think deeply, feel deeply, observe details others miss, and be empathetic, steadfast friends. Cain highlights stories of children who have made a mark in their schools, friendships, and family life from the quiet side of the introversion-extroversion spectrum. 


Who am I?

Every one of my books is centered around characters finding a place where they can be fully, unapologetically, joyfully themselves. If you had asked my child self where my happy place was, I would have told you it was my room, empty of other people but full of books. I am very friendly and would love to meet you, but I also delight in solitude, and my imagination sparks and cartwheels when I am quiet. It turns out there’s a word for this inborn trait of mine: introversion. I’m always looking for stories that celebrate the strengths of us quietly powerful introverts. 


I wrote...

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

By Christina Uss,

Book cover of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

What is my book about?

One girl. Two wheels. Four thousand miles to go. Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life quietly—and happily—at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian says she must attend a summer friend-making camp, Bicycle seeks a different path. She sets off on her bike for California to prove she can make her first friend her own way.

Who knew that a ghost would haunt her handlebars, or that she would have to contend with bike-hating dogs, a bike-loving horse, and bike-crushing pigs? Over the uphills and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come

By Jessica Pan,

Book cover of Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes

As an introvert myself, and having tried to deliberately come out of my shell – as I document in my own book– I was intrigued to come across Pan's book. Her year-long experiment living as an out-and-out extravert chimes with a key piece of the advice I give on wilful personality change – that is, having switched up your narrative identity, thoughtfully considered your personal projects, and even worked on your underlying habits, at some point, you have to get out there and really walk the walk. For introverts who wish to become more outgoing, that means being more sociable and willing to take risks. My word, Pan does this in spades, including performing stand-up comedy and joining an improv theatre group. Her hilarious stories will inspire you to see that personal change really is possible, if you are determined enough.


Who am I?

I'm a psychologist and neuroscientist and I've been writing for the public about all things mind and behaviour for more than two decades. Something I've noticed in that time is that the question people want to know the answer to, perhaps more than any other, is how much we can ever truly change, deep down. After all, self-help advice is seemingly endless, but does any of it really work, or are we ultimately destined to always revert to type? That's what motivated me to begin delving into the latest science of personality – defined by psychology as the habits of emotion, behaviour, and thought that make us who we are.


I wrote...

Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

By Christian Jarrett,

Book cover of Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

What is my book about?

Whether you're an introvert or extravert, creative and open-minded or focused and disciplined, psychology has always taught that there are various personality types. The common perception is that we’re stuck with what we’re given. However, drawing on the latest psychological theories and methods, interviews with leading experts, as well as a personal anecdote, in Be Who You Want I argue that although your initial personality type is moulded by a combination of genetic influences and early experiences, it is not fixed. It is malleable, voluntary even. In my book, which is packed with quizzes and practical exercises, I help you understand how your personality was formed and give you the tools to further shape your traits in the ways you desire and that will benefit you most.

The Cactus and Snowflake at Work

By Devora Zack,

Book cover of The Cactus and Snowflake at Work: How the Logical and Sensitive Can Thrive Side by Side

The author is well versed in the Myers-Briggs and uses her knowledge of that instrument and years of consulting in this practical and funny book. 

The author focuses on thinking types and feeling types and describes how they can clash and achieve sweet harmony. Thinkers lead with their heads and Feelers lead with their hearts.

This is helpful for me as a “feeler.” I have a roadmap to guide me in the land of thinkers. The “CakFlake” instrument (this gives you a sense of the author’s sense of humor) is a great way to determine when I might fall into a trap like expecting everyone to process information like I do. It is a quick and fun read and you will leave with some actions to take right away.


Who am I?

I grew up in a talkative family in an extroverted culture near NYC. I discovered I also liked the quiet and found a man to marry who was very introverted. After the “opposites attract” phase we needed to learn ways to make our differences work and we've been doing that for almost 50 years. I took this knowledge to the workplace where, as a career coach and learning and development professional, I became a champion for introverts. I've written 4 books on harnessing the talents of both introverts and extroverts at work and speak about this topic around the world. I believe we are all better off when we work through our differences to achieve magic.


I wrote...

The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler,

Book cover of The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

What is my book about?

FDR and Eleanor. Mick and Keith. Jobs and Woz. There are countless examples of introvert-extrovert partnerships who make brilliant products, create great works of art, and even change history together. But these partnerships don’t just happen. They demand wise nurturing.

The key is for opposites to stop emphasizing their differences and use approaches that focus them both on moving toward results. This first-of-its-kind practical five-step process helps introverts and extroverts understand and appreciate each other’s wiring, use conflicts to spur creativity, enrich their own skills by learning from the other, and see and act on things neither would have separately. This book shows how to perform the delicate balancing act required to create a whole that is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Maya and the Robot

By Eve L. Ewing, Christine Almeda (illustrator),

Book cover of Maya and the Robot

Maya shows us readers why so many successful creative and science-loving people tend towards introversion. Maya notices what’s going on around her, and what’s going on inside of her. She absorbs. She ponders. She interprets. Then she acts. Then she repeats the process. I love, love, love how Maya gets support from those around her who see her clearly for who she is and let her know that she’s awesome. “Always remember, Maya,” says her mom, “being yourself is a gift to others around you.” So true.


Who am I?

Every one of my books is centered around characters finding a place where they can be fully, unapologetically, joyfully themselves. If you had asked my child self where my happy place was, I would have told you it was my room, empty of other people but full of books. I am very friendly and would love to meet you, but I also delight in solitude, and my imagination sparks and cartwheels when I am quiet. It turns out there’s a word for this inborn trait of mine: introversion. I’m always looking for stories that celebrate the strengths of us quietly powerful introverts. 


I wrote...

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

By Christina Uss,

Book cover of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

What is my book about?

One girl. Two wheels. Four thousand miles to go. Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life quietly—and happily—at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian says she must attend a summer friend-making camp, Bicycle seeks a different path. She sets off on her bike for California to prove she can make her first friend her own way.

Who knew that a ghost would haunt her handlebars, or that she would have to contend with bike-hating dogs, a bike-loving horse, and bike-crushing pigs? Over the uphills and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.

Hello, Universe

By Erin Entrada Kelly, Isabel Roxas (illustrator),

Book cover of Hello, Universe

Virgil is a quiet Filipino boy trapped in a well by the class bully. Helped by his friends – each with their own finely layered story – Virgil not only gets rescued, but also finds his inner voice. I loved the effortless diversity of the characters, which wasn’t the basis of the story, but truly enriched it.


Who am I?

I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, a child of immigrant parents, and I’ve always been curious about other cultures and far-off places. Moving to Hong Kong gave me the chance to explore my Chinese cultural roots and learn the language. I spent 14 very happy years in Hong Kong and my experiences there were the inspiration for my middle-grade debut, The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei. Like the character Holly-Mei, I love dumplings, bubble tea, and field hockey. The books I chose are ones that reflect my experience of being born and raised in a new world.


I wrote...

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

By Christina Matula,

Book cover of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

What is my book about?

Holly-Mei Jones couldn’t be more excited about moving to Hong Kong for her mother’s new job. Her new school is right on the beach and her family’s apartment is beyond beautiful. Everything is going to be perfect... right?

Maybe not. It feels like everywhere she turns, there are new rules to follow and expectations to meet. On top of that, the most popular girl in her grade is quickly becoming a frenemy. And without the guidance of her loving Taiwanese grandmother, Ah-ma, who stayed behind in Toronto, Holly-Mei just can’t seem to get it right. It will take all of Holly-Mei’s determination and sparkle (and maybe even a tiny bit of stubbornness) to get through seventh grade and turn her life in Hong Kong into the ultimate adventure!

Invisible Emmie

By Terri Libenson,

Book cover of Invisible Emmie

This graphic novel literally illustrates many ways in which the average school day is challenging to introverts, from the bus, to school hallways, to the cafeteria, to navigating pre-class chatter. Emmie is very in tune with her feelings and able to focus on drawing no matter the noise all around, but still questions her own value: “Does anyone ever see me? Do I want them to?” When the author drew Emmie with a disappearing mouth to show how others view her as mute—ooh, I got goosebumps. I adore a book that makes me go back and read it again the moment I finish it. 


Who am I?

Every one of my books is centered around characters finding a place where they can be fully, unapologetically, joyfully themselves. If you had asked my child self where my happy place was, I would have told you it was my room, empty of other people but full of books. I am very friendly and would love to meet you, but I also delight in solitude, and my imagination sparks and cartwheels when I am quiet. It turns out there’s a word for this inborn trait of mine: introversion. I’m always looking for stories that celebrate the strengths of us quietly powerful introverts. 


I wrote...

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

By Christina Uss,

Book cover of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle

What is my book about?

One girl. Two wheels. Four thousand miles to go. Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life quietly—and happily—at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian says she must attend a summer friend-making camp, Bicycle seeks a different path. She sets off on her bike for California to prove she can make her first friend her own way.

Who knew that a ghost would haunt her handlebars, or that she would have to contend with bike-hating dogs, a bike-loving horse, and bike-crushing pigs? Over the uphills and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.

Collected Poems, 1930-1993

By May Sarton,

Book cover of Collected Poems, 1930-1993

After Rilke, May Sarton is my favourite poet. I love her because her work is about the meanings of everyday things. She sees life through the eyes of an introvert, which I identify with completely, and she is able to bring out aspects of simple things that others miss. Her thoughts on love range from people in love“Lovers at the Zoo”to the intense grief at the loss of a pet “Death and the Turtle.”


Who am I?

When writing my book, it seemed only natural for me to bring poetry into the love story I’d created. I fell in love with poetry in high school, and it has always felt like a more powerful, compact, and intense way of expressing deep emotions. And it’s so much more complex than hearts and flowers, hence my title for this list! I wanted to use a poem that summed up the intensity of a physical encounter between new lovers. And Rilke was perfect for that. The other books are favourites, books I’ve had for years, and they’ve been good background for my writing in general.


I wrote...

Finding Our Way

By Barbara L.B. Storey,

Book cover of Finding Our Way

What is my book about?

Two people stranded in the middle of nowhere for an entire weekend, with no way to call for help. How can such a thing happen in the 21st century? But it does, giving Becca and Jon the chance to let someone into their carefully guarded lives... to fall in love. As utterly different as they are, a stroke of fate takes Becca and John through the highest and lowest points of an improbable love story that neither of them could have foreseen.

Me, Myself, and Us

By Brian R. Little,

Book cover of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being

The author is a psychology professor and a leading populariser of personality psychology. His book will give you a great overview of the most widely endorsed model of personality, which is based on the so-called Big Five traits, including extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. Little is also renowned for his research into 'personal projects' – the goals you have that are meaningful to you. What I particularly took away from this book is how these projects feedback and shape your personality. So, if you want to have more control over who you are and will become, it is worth thinking about the goals that you are pursuing in life – whether they are satisfying and how they might be influencing you.


Who am I?

I'm a psychologist and neuroscientist and I've been writing for the public about all things mind and behaviour for more than two decades. Something I've noticed in that time is that the question people want to know the answer to, perhaps more than any other, is how much we can ever truly change, deep down. After all, self-help advice is seemingly endless, but does any of it really work, or are we ultimately destined to always revert to type? That's what motivated me to begin delving into the latest science of personality – defined by psychology as the habits of emotion, behaviour, and thought that make us who we are.


I wrote...

Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

By Christian Jarrett,

Book cover of Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

What is my book about?

Whether you're an introvert or extravert, creative and open-minded or focused and disciplined, psychology has always taught that there are various personality types. The common perception is that we’re stuck with what we’re given. However, drawing on the latest psychological theories and methods, interviews with leading experts, as well as a personal anecdote, in Be Who You Want I argue that although your initial personality type is moulded by a combination of genetic influences and early experiences, it is not fixed. It is malleable, voluntary even. In my book, which is packed with quizzes and practical exercises, I help you understand how your personality was formed and give you the tools to further shape your traits in the ways you desire and that will benefit you most.

Hive

By A. J. Betts,

Book cover of Hive

This amazing Australian YA weaves such a delicate web. A quiet, introverted dystopia, and at its heart is the wonderful Hayley. Hayley is such an interesting female protagonist here not because she is deadly or combative, but because of her incredible perseverance and curiosity. Hive is the first in a truly compelling duology. 


Who am I?

I have always been drawn to YA novels – big feelings conveyed across shorter word counts, intense experiences, other worlds, characters finding their way in the world. For a long time in these books and across a range of genres, women and girls could only hope to be on the sidelines of these big stories. They were the maiden in the tower, the prospective bride or love interest of the hero. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a time where a wide range of female experiences can be found in our YA books, and these are always stories I seek to read and to tell. 


I wrote...

Slipping the Noose

By Meg Caddy,

Book cover of Slipping the Noose

What is my book about?

The way out is through.

Anne Bonny is chained up in the hold of a prison ship, nursing nine-month-old Molly. The baby is all she has left of Calico Jack, the swaggering pirate captain who loved her and stole her away to sea—and who now hangs from a gibbet. When armed men rip the child from her grasp, Bonny can do nothing and Molly seems lost. But Anne Bonny was not cut out for despair. She will plan for escape and rescue, and the plan will become action. And the streets of London will belong to her and her daughter—and the ragtag remnants of Calico Jack’s crew.

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