For some time I have been wanting to compile a list of literature about introverts–both nonfiction that talks about introversion (or various aspects and shades of it) and fiction works with introverted characters presented in a positive way. I’m an ISFJ. I like literature that is realistic (well, maybe that is not totally accurate, now that I see that my first favorites are books about animal characters who talk and wear clothes! But more realistic–in a relative sort of way–than say, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I don’t do science fiction or fantasy or books like them. I just can’t stand them. I have no solid grounds other than that to hold anything against those types of books.)
Here are some of my favorite books that show off introversion. (I know there is overlap with my post “Favorite Books and Authors”, but this time around I will focus more on the Introvert aspect of books I’ve already mentioned).
1) Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel. Owl is so totally happy being at home alone. He is happy to welcome a guest whom he feels sorry for (winter), but when that guest is obnoxious, he is quick to send the guest away and settle back down into his comfortable aloneness. Anything I try to say about this book ends up sounding lame in comparison to how simple and powerfully the author portrays Owl. So, I’ll stop trying to describe it, and just say I think it is amazing that Arnold Lobel could take a personality like mine, with all of its quirks, and turn it into such a lovable, fun character to read about.
2) Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad aren’t total loners like Owl. But they also seem to prefer the company of two (each other) rather than large groups. Theirs is such a neat friendship. They do things together, motivate each other, encourage each other, sit quietly together without talking and give each other space when it is needed (but not for too long!) Maybe one of them is more introverted than the other, but they are such a nice picture of two quiet friends who can just enjoy being together.
3) Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. I read on a review of Harry Potter somewhere that people need to stop trying to read so much into those books and just enjoy them as fun. I cannot speak intelligently on whether or not that is true for Harry Potter, but I will say that is how I feel with this book. Here is an article that talks about how controversial this children’s book has been, not just in America, but around the world. It has the distinction of being “the first American picture book to be labeled subversive”! Hitler ordered it burned. It was banned in Spain (some saw it as supporting the Spanish Civil War, some as criticizing it. Americans said it supported Communism, and maybe the Communists thought so too, because it “was one of the few non-Communist books promoted in Soviet-occupied Poland”. For all of that, apparently Mr. Leaf wrote the book in an hour just to give an illustrator friend something to illustrate. For me, controversial or not, Ferdinand has always given me warm fuzzies. I understand why he wants to sit quietly under the cork tree and smell the roses instead of rioting with the other bulls and showing off. And I love it that those introverted tendencies of his, although they irritate the tar out of many people, end up saving his own neck.
4) The Introvert Advantage. I enjoyed this book a lot. It put words to my experience and explained in more depth some of why I am the way I am. I have read many reviews and criticisms of this book. I can see that many of the criticisms are true; however, it doesn’t make me like the book any less. True, the book is not all that great at showing the advantages of being an introvert. It is more like how to cope as an introvert. But, consistent with its title or not, I liked it, especially the first half. The most interesting part to me is the explanation of how an introvert’s nervous system works. It is explained so clearly (pictures and all) and makes so much sense to me that I had to wonder if it was actually accurate or oversimplified.
5) Looking for Henry, by Elaine Livermore. Another children’s book. This time about a wallflower leopard, who nobody ever notices. He just blends in too well. He starts out wanting to change, but then discovers some advantages to being so easily overlooked. He finds some very clever (if cheesy) ways to use his wallflowerness to connect with others. I found this book when I was reading a nonfiction book on Social Anxiety Disorder. When I read the first book, I thought, why does this (social anxiety) have to be fixed? Can’t social anxiety or shyness be accepted as something that is and worked with instead of being an enemy to be eradicated. In a fun way that the author/illustrator maybe never intended, this book affirmed this line of thought to me.
Do you have books that you like which bring to life certain personality traits in a positive way, either in a particular character or just by talking about the traits?