10 Books Every Introvert Should Read

Here’s to the quite heroines. The ones that think in their heads. The ones with the hidden talents. The ones that bottle up their emotions and age them like fine wine. Here’s to the underdog heroes. The ones that suffer from social anxiety. The ones that would rather read about humans than interact with humans. The ones that we can relate to.

I’m an INFJ myself, and I think the extra N, F, and J play a part in my book selections as well. I’m especially human-centered and emotion-focused. If this sounds anything like you, read on. This is my way of declaring, “Introverts Unite! (…Separately)” and I hope you enjoy these quiet masterpieces as much as I did. (I also included commentary that very rarely actually introduces the books properly and are mainly just tangents that I went off on, because blurbs are overrated.)

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  1. Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

One thing that I find fascinating as an introvert is analyzing other human beings. It’s the eternal paradox that I spend my life both avoiding and studying people. I think the dichotomy comes from trying to uncover the poetry, the quirks, the memories, the tears, the laughter, and the aesthetic that makes up a person while still attempting to seem like a normal, socially acceptable human being. I wish it were ok to walk up to a stranger and ask “Hey which movies make you cry?” or “What keeps you up until 3 AM?”

OK, I’ve said nothing about this book up to this point, but essentially, it’s a novel that captures the human essence. It follows several characters whose paths crisscross in the amazing setting of 1970s New York. It introduces prostitutes, photographers, Irishmen, a judge, a stuntsman, nursing home residents, Park Avenue residents, mothers whose sons have passed away, and it introduces them all passionately and vulnerably. I guarantee that every sentence is poetry.

  1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such a relatable heroine. She refuses to eat at her college cafeteria for fear of human interaction, she holes up in her room to write fan fiction, and she cares more about her relationships with the people she loves more than anything else. While I’m not in love with the plot, which I found to be a little on the cliché side, I loved the portrait Rowell painted of freshman year at college and suffering through it all as a socially awkward introvert.

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  1. The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato

This tale told from the POV of a psychopathic murderer actually freaked me out, because I found that I could relate to the main character more than I cared to admit. Juan Pablo Castel, the murderer, overanalyzes everything to great lengths and falls in obsessive love with a woman. It’s thrilling and chilling – a great Halloween read, I suppose. Even cooler? You’ll be able to tell your friends you read Argentinian existentialist literature.

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read this novel beyond the high school yearbook-esque quotes (i.e. “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”) But the idea of “wallflower” fits right along with “introversion.” Too often introverts are the ones that are pushed aside, overlooked, marginalized. And the themes of introspection and trying to figure out life while also trying to grow up are the sorts of things any teenager connect to.

  1. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

While this children’s series may be a little below your reading level, hear me out. As introverts, we often see ourselves as special, as different from everyone else. This book completely focuses on four orphaned children whose unique talents get them placed together on a team to complete a mission to save the world. It’s a story that’s both simple and witty, a story replete with loveable characters and quirky logic puzzles. Growing up, I loved stories about gifted children (Matilda, Harry Potter, The Series of Unfortunate Events), because I saw a little bit of myself in them – the kids who like to read, the kids who look out for each other, the kids who think differently.

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  1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

For an introvert, the idea of being stuck in a boat away from civilization for a while sounds kind of appealing. Plenty of introspection ensues throughout the book, and while I’m not big on man vs. nature survivor stories, this one is different. It’s unique, multicultural, and rooted in a deeper exploration of religion.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you feel like you’re always third wheeling, this one’s for you. Written in the Fitzgerald’s signature enchanting prose, this book is his most famous piece of writing for a reason. It’s a classic 1920s New York story rich with themes of love and morality and social class and how the three don’t mix so easily. Not only that, but the entire book is basically an observation, what Nick Carraway sees and how he tells it. As an introvert, I can relate to Carraway’s affinity for listening instead of speaking, for analyzing the people around him.

  1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Remember that movie a while ago starring Reese Witherspoon that got Oscar buzz? This was the memoir that inspired it all. It’s another one of those on my must-read-sometime list rather than on my have-read list, but I did read a piece by Cheryl Strayed and adored it. Her writing style is both down-to-earth and infinitely poignant, a refreshing mix of the realistic and the emotional. Another one of those deeply introspective authors, most of her writings focus on her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail – how she did it and what she found out about herself.

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  1. The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh

This book gives me shivers. This dark, emotional tale follows the tale of a North Vietnamese soldier and his experiences during the Vietnam War. Written by an actual North Vietnamese Vietnam War veteran, the scenes and little stories are so realistic that they draw you in and tear your heart out. What makes it different from the usual war story? There’s a deep sadness strung artfully throughout the book, a sadness that moves beyond violence, that leaves traces of sorrow in moments of peace and love as well as moments of loss and death. Any introvert who bottles up his emotions and expresses them through writing and art should be able to relate to the protagonist’s struggles.

  1. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I’ve mentioned this book before in a post titled “College Interview Questions” and I’m mentioning it again because it’s literally my favorite book of all time. It’s kind of an unassuming classic. It’s a book that you might have heard of before but didn’t think much of it. It’s not a book that’s on your typical English class reading list, and it’s a book where nothing much happens at all. But to me, it’s a book about life. Readers follow the life of a girl as she grows into a young lady, a girl who is a classic introvert. She hides away to read, she observes the world quietly, and she works hard to make it on her own. But more than that, she is a girl that is made of poetry but doesn’t know it yet. Honestly, I loved the heroine so much, I became her. Well, I borrowed her. Her name is my pseudonym for this blog – Francie Nolan.

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I find that books with relatable introverted characters tend to be my favorites. To the true introvert though, every good book is a friend. The written word is the home in which the introvert thrives. I hope you’ll find homes in the books listed above.

While you get busy reading, I’ll be putting together a Ten Movies Every Introvert Should Watch list and a playlist for introverts, so look out for that! xx

Not Another Teenage Love Story

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It’s hard trying to reconcile my desire to write the perfect, brutally honest, realistic, absolutely adorable, #1 New York Times bestselling, when’s-the-movie-going-to-come-out YA romance novel and my desire to not write another cliche teenage love story. Yes, it’s quite difficult because “teenage love story” is in itself a cliche, the cliche to end all cliches, the one you roll your eyes at and walk past in the bookstore unless you happen to be in the mood for that kind of cheesy stuff. The cutesy title in the cursive font with an artsy picture of a Brandy Melville model-esque white girl on the cover. Scatter in some hearts or flowers or candy and boom you’ve got yourself an entire book genre.

I know the frustration, because I am a cynic when it comes to the YA romance section. I hate how easy love is portrayed. You see someone across the room and you know. You bump into him/her around town and a beautiful relationship blossoms. A few roadblocks happen, but it doesn’t matter what life throws at you, because true love conquers all, and what else could this adolescent self-centered infatuation be but true love? Who cares if the roadblock is a tyrannical dystopian government? And why are these dystopian governments so concerned with teen dating habits anyways?

Some romance novels entirely miss the point. And what’s the point? To ask the questions no can answer about love. How do you know you’re in love? How does love translate to marriage? What do you do if you’re in love with someone who simply does not love you back? Why love anyone if it’s going to bring you pain and heartbreak? After all, Sigmund Freud said the tragedy of human life is that we love beings who will die.

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Love is something no one totally knows about because everyone experiences it a different way. If there’s an infinite number of types of love, why isn’t there an infinite number of types of love stories? Why are they so damn cute when love makes us so damn sad? Why are love stories so cliche?

This is the kind of teenage angst that I want to put into my own YA romance novel – if I ever write one. I want to write characters who, like me, have been disillusioned by the portrayal of romance in the media and who are attempting to reconcile it with real life. I’ve begun to explore the concept in bits and pieces of writing. I’ll share some of my bits and pieces right now in an attempt to (hopefully) eventually write the world’s best non-cliche teenage love story.

Love is a whirlwind of feelings and thoughts and insecurities and pain and failures and ecstasies and fantasies. It doesn’t have a beginning or middle or end, it simply is. It’s made up of all the wrong turns you took to finally reach your destination. Finally, two wrongs can make a right. And the road isn’t a straight line either. And you don’t really know what your destination is, even when you’ve already arrived. It’s an utterly confounding adventure that few believe in and almost none accomplish.

No, it’s not a straight line- no formulas, no straightforward procedures. So that’s the way I’ll write my story. It’ll be in bits and pieces with no order, rhyme, or reason. Because that’s love.

“Isn’t he cute?” she gushed. Literally gushed. Like spewing love, hearts in her eyes, head in the clouds gushed.

“Uh, I guess…in a McHottie way.”

“McHottie?” she stopped gushing for a minute to give me a half-amused, half-confused look.

“Yeah, he looks fake and processed, like a McDonald’s meal – attractive but detrimental to your health. Basically he looks like how every ‘hot guy’ looks nowadays. It’s like they all come from a factory or something. Big, bright eyes, tanned skin, tousled hair, flawless skin, swoon-inducing smile/smirk. They’re products of pop culture and victims of the teenage pressure to ‘look hot.’”

She looked at me exasperatedly, “Indie, you should hear yourself talk sometimes.”      

No need to ask who “him” was. David McKennon had been her dreamboat date for the past two years (which is forever in high school dating time) until their little boat sprung a leak. Well, more like multiple small leaks that you don’t even realize until it’s too late. You know how couples split up. First it’s annoying habits. He chews with his mouth open. She laughs too loudly. He’s a slob. She’s an attention whore. Then you get tired of each other, and you start to notice the imperfections of your significant other. And you realize that you really hate those imperfections. And then along comes another boy and another girl. And you guys get suspicious and jealous. Pretty soon you’re sinking into a whirlpool that can only end in break-up.

See, that’s the scary thing about getting in relationships. There can only be two endings: you either end up married forever or you split, both of which are terrifying commitments with very permanent consequences.

“I realize…” I started to say, eyes glued to my reflection in the water. I saw the pimple on my nose, the leftover scars of my fungus infection in the corner of my mouth, my uneven eyelids, and my scraggly-looking eyebrow hair. “I realize I’m not that kind of girl. I’m not that romanticized girl in radio songs and I’m not that girl you’ll find starring in the latest TV show and I’m not that heroine in YA novels that ends up with the boy AND the dystopian-free life.” I turned around abruptly. “But I am so much more than that. And I know someday I will find some guy who will appreciate a girl who’s not necessarily the girl of his dreams. Or anyone’s dreams. Because I’m not a girl who can be dreamed of.”

I jumped down from the railing. “So, mister, if I’m not perfect enough for you, you can bet your ass that I don’t need anyone who doesn’t need me.”

I never really got the concept of “the one that got away.” I figured that if you had loved him, you wouldn’t have let him leave. You would have found him, fought for him, again and again, because that’s what lovers are supposed to do. I never realized that sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go.  I never realized that sometimes you have to stop holding on to people tightly because their overloaded dreams are too heavy for your arms to carry.

 …

“You’re the kind of girl that deserves to be poetry,” he said.

 I turned to face him without hesitation saying, “Every girl is that kind of girl.”

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The Harry Potter Tag

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Thanks to Bridget from Stay and Watch the Stars for tagging everyone that read her post, so I could snatch up the opportunity to finally do a Harry Potter post. In a way no other fandom has, Harry Potter defined my childhood, sparked my imagination, and increased my adoration for England. The stories we loved as children will always remain magical to us because we believed in them, so they remain in our memories, real and enchanting. Without further ado, I present to you my inner Harry Potter geek. Wouldn’t miss this chance for the wizarding world. (Not really.)

(Of course there are spoilers; don’t be riddikulus.)

Favorite book?

I guess the correct answer is Deathly Hallows, since it’s the one that really went out of the box and tied the entire series together. The plot twists and character development, the way J.K. Rowling allowed the readers to uncover the secrets and hidden history of important characters gave the story many more layers and made it a more compelling read.

However, my actual personal favorite is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. To me, Deathly Hallows lacked one thing, and that was the traditional Hogwarts/wizarding world charm that I had come to love in the other books. True, the series was supposed to get darker as the golden trio got older, and I loved the way the books grew up with the characters, but I always missed the more “childish” books. Goblet of Fire was the transition book that mixed old and new. It kept the Hogwarts feeling of Christmas, classes, and Slytherin-Gryffindor rivalry, while showing the behind-the-scenes rise of the dark forces and introducing the mess of teenage angst into the lives of the coming-of-age characters. The Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament, the Yule Ball, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons – these are the creative magical touches that I love about the series.

Also, I love any of the books with plenty of Fred and George’s sass and humor. The sixth and seventh books just weren’t the same without them.

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Favorite film?

I definitely didn’t pay more attention to the films than the books, which is why I take it as a personal offense when people say they’ve only seen the movies and have never read the books. However, the movies weren’t bad and I did enjoy them, and I really fell in love with the cast.

My favorite would have to be Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, because in my eyes, that movie stayed truer to the book than the other movies. My biggest problem with the movies is that they cut out scenes that made up the heart and soul and whimsy of Harry’s world, including the scene at St. Mungo’s, Peeves, Hermione’s S.P.E.W., Tonks and Lupin…I could go on. There’s a Tumblr post (that I found on Pinterest) that lists all the parts that should have been in the movies. I couldn’t agree more.

Of course there’s not enough room to put everything in the films, but a fangirl can lament, right? That’s why you read the books.

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Least favorite book?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It probably shouldn’t be that easy to decide, but this one was by far my least favorite. It lacked some of that Hogwarts charm that I was talking about, it lacked Fred and George, it didn’t have the intrigue of Deathly Hallows, Ron hooks up with Lavender, Dumbledore dies…need I say more?

That said, I still love it more than plenty of other books I have read, and it is an integral part of the series. Like I said, anything Harry Potter will have a special place in my heart.

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Least favorite film?

Same as my least favorite book. I can’t remember much from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so I guess I must not have liked it that much. I vaguely remember thinking that they left out too much.

Parts of the books/movies that made you cry?

Snape’s love for Lily. There’s been a real backlash against Snape’s character, but I’ve always been a cheesy romantic. I’m a sucker for unresolved heartbreak.

Also, Neville’s backstory. The scene in the books when he visits his parents at St. Mungo’s was really poignant, and it’s haunted me for forever.

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Favorite character?

Snape. Not because he’s especially noble or secretly kind-hearted – he’s not – but because he’s complicated and broken and a classic example of the antihero blurring the lines between “good” and “bad.” He’s not cliche, yet he’s the embodiment of the most cliche theme: “Love conquers all.” The theme that love is the greatest motivator is woven throughout the book, and Snape, the Death-Eater-turned-spy all in the name of love proves this more than any other character.

Least favorite character?

Umbridge. Or Tom Riddle’s father and grandfather. In my eyes, they were the real villains.

Favorite quote?

“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.” -Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Least favorite quote?

“And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.” –Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

*internally screams*

Favorite music from the films?

“Reunion of Friends.” Makes me cry every time. God bless John Williams.

What would your patronus be?

A bottle-nosed dolphin. Or a phoenix, if patronuses can be magical animals.

If you could have the Resurrection Stone, the Invisibility Cloak, or the Elder Wand, which would you choose?

The Invisibility Cloak, duh. Haven’t you ever read “The Tale of the Three Brothers?”

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Which house would you be in?

I’ve taken one of those detailed sorting hat quizzes (the kind that asks better questions than “what’s your favorite color?” then suspiciously limits your choices to red, blue, yellow, and green) and I ended up with equal percentages as a Ravenclaw and a Hufflepuff. Knowing me though, I am a Hufflepuff, because as much as I value creativity and intelligence, I value character and virtue more.

If you could meet any member of the cast, who would it be?

Emma Watson. Talk about perfection.

If you were on the Quidditch team, what position would you play?

LOL sports. Probably the water boy.

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Were you happy with the ending?

Happy, yes. Satisfied, no. I wanted to know more about their lives “19 years later,” but I guess that’s what fan fiction is for.

How much does Harry Potter mean to you?

What kind of question is that? How am I supposed to measure meaning? I can’t say that it means more than anything to me, but I can say that it has defined my philosophy, changed the way I think, and pushed me towards reading and writing. Taking away Harry Potter would be taking away a huge chunk of my life, and I just wouldn’t be the same person that is sitting here typing this today.

But more than anything, the Harry Potter series gave me friends, family, and a home. What more could I ask?

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I tag anyone who would like to do the Harry Potter Tag and show what Harry Potter means to him or her. If you do decide to do this, leave your blog post in the comments, and I’ll be sure to check it out!

Who has time to reread?

Response to this prompt from The Daily Post: Off the Shelf

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With an overflowing list of books that I still need to read (Anyone still finishing the Lord of the Rings series?), plus new bestsellers rolling out each day- seriously- who has time to reread? Well, I have a few confessions. I’m probably the only teenage girl who hasn’t yet read The Fault in Our Stars and hasn’t even started the Divergent series. I still don’t know the ending to the Hunger Games series since I haven’t finished Mockingjay yet. (Although I promised myself I’d read it before watching the movie.) I just honestly haven’t had enough time to devour all the literature that comes my way.

And yet…each time I walk past my bookshelf I get this funny feeling. The books that I’ve already read, some that I’ve already reread four or five or ten times, beckon me. That alluring familiar cover of an old book draws me in. I reach out, pick it up, flip through the pages, contemplate it. It’s been a couple of months…I’ve forgotten the plot…maybe I should give it another go… And then I can’t resist any longer. I stop everything I’m doing, forget that ever-growing list of new books I need to tackle, and curl up in a corner to read the entire Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. Why is that? Why do we do that? Is it nostalgia? Do we do it to relive our childhood, to feel that same sense of wonder from all those years ago? Or maybe we reread to catch something we didn’t catch the first time? Or maybe it’s that smug satisfaction of already knowing how it all ends.

Whatever it is, I’ll admit I am drawn to my old books, the ones I enjoyed before being swept away by the whirlwind of chaos that is high school. (OK, I dramatize.) Yes, my Harry Potter novels sit side-by-side invitingly, but there are others as well. One of my old favorite children’s books was The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. It’s got that sweet mix of humor and a historical setting with a hint of homespun Texas charm. The writing is childlike yet unique and brilliant; the characters both hilarious and lovable. Yes, this certainly makes for a tempting revisit to my past.

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But then my finger finds it’s way to a thick black book, tracing the spine of it lovingly. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas made for a compelling read in my tenth grade English class, one of the assigned readings that I’d actually fallen in love with. There’s adventure and romance and everything you could ever want in a classic novel, even if it is over a thousand pages long. The thing is, when I read it about a year and a half ago, I read it in blocks and chunks, stopping often to make an annotation here or highlight something there. The second time around, I just want to sit back and enjoy it. I know I will return to it again someday, but I might have to wait another year to find the time to finish the entire thing.

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My final reread choice would be the beloved The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. The truth is, I’ve already reread this at least once. But ever since my friends insisted I watch the BBC Sherlock series and I ended up toppling headfirst into the bottomless pit of screaming fangirls and insane Reichenbach Fall theories, I’ve wanted to return to the stories that started it all. I know the scriptwriters of the TV series, the infamous Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, often allude to the original Sherlock Holmes books. I want to see if I can pick up a clue as to how Sherlock may have faked his death and what will happen next to our favorite British hero. Besides, the original stories are just as exciting as the modern makeover, and I can’t wait to rediscover the reason why I loved Sherlock Holmes in the first place.

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I have to stop now; my books are calling me again. Time to find a comfy spot to curl up with a cup of tea and an old companion.