There’s hardly anything INFJs love more than a good book. Books to us are many things: portals to a past world, or an escape from our present one. When we read, we experience it all so clearly in our minds. Maybe it is an eighteenth century parlor, where sputtering candles and crackling firewood are the only sounds we hear. Maybe we wander the gas lit streets of a time long past, or feel the ragged breaths of the lovers as they move in for their first kiss. Perhaps we inhabit the soul of the misunderstood hero and taste his salty tears as he stands alone in the rain.
Books provide a porthole into the world we seek to understand. We drink in the words and thoughts of characters whose lives we immerse ourselves in, reflecting on what these people can teach us about humanity.
Books also help us understand our own feelings better. We use their stories as mirrors and moral compasses which help us untangle the “who” and “why” of our identities. We delve into the hearts of the characters we meet, momentarily donning their complex psyches as if they were our own.
Finally, we seek books not only to understand, but also to be understood, to find characters who remind us that we are not alone. So, here are three classic books that I believe will deeply resonate with INFJs (and perhaps some other introverted types), based on the INFJ’s characteristics.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)
Classic Books That Will Resonate With INFJs
1. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
Thoreau’s text centers on his retreat into solitude at a cabin near Walden Pond, where he hoped to gain insight about the world through purposeful isolation. Any INFJ who reads this book will feel Thoreau a kindred spirit. In the following section, he recounts the bountiful blessings of solitude:
Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night.
Being introverts, INFJs will relate to Thoreau’s appreciation of nature’s beauty and the “revery” he experienced in moments of “undisturbed solitude and stillness.” He wrote that in those moments he “grew…like corn in the night.” For INFJs, solitude not only brings us the peace we crave, but also new insights into our emotions and experiences. Just as a good author knows that suspense is built in the pause between action, so do INFJs know that growth and reflection are forged in moments of seclusion.
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2. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
Chopin’s novella is the bittersweet tale of a wealthy wife and mother living in the late 1800s. Edna Pontellier, accustomed to a life of complacency and secondary status as a female, “awakens” on a family trip to Grand Isle. While her husband is away with friends, Edna, an artist with an INFJ’s penchant for deep emotion, is unable to stop her feelings from rising to the surface. The beauty of the ocean and the freedom she experiences in her moments of solitude cause a surge of emotions, some of which are beautiful and many of which are painful. INFJs will relate to her rich inner life:
There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.
There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why — when it did not seem worthwhile to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.
As an INFJ, I value my heightened emotions, as they are the center of my being, my greatest strength and yet at times, my biggest burden. Most INFJs honor the color these feelings bring to their lives, for we prefer living passionately to merely existing, even if it means a bit of suffering. Chopin elaborates on this fact when she describes Edna’s distaste for living in an emotional vacuum:
She was moved by a kind of commiseration… a pity for that colorless existence which never uplifted its possessor beyond the region of blind contentment, in which no moment of anguish ever visited her soul, in which she would never have the taste of life’s delirium.
Ultimately, Edna’s feelings overwhelm her, and she walks into the sea, surrendering her life to a world that will not let her follow her heart. For INFJs, it does not have to end so tragically. Hope lies on the horizon; all we have to do is embrace it.
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
INFJs are doers as well as dreamers, always focused on achieving things that give their life meaning. It matters not how impossible these feats may seem; we still plow forward, stubborn but beautiful in our dedication to our goal.
This is Jay Gatsby’s struggle. In love with a woman from his past, Gatsby focuses his whole life on winning her back, even though she is a married woman. He acquires wealth on his own, places himself in her locale, and throws big, wild parties all in the hope of drawing her to his home. Gatsby’s dream does not work out, but the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway, hints at the quality that made Gatsby worthy of admiration:
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’ — it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.
These are qualities the INFJ possesses: We are hopeless romantics and idealistic in spirit, often refusing to accept any other outcome than our intended goal.
Gatsby is often held up as an example of the human desire to reach the unreachable. Even in his failure to accomplish this goal, his relentless striving is a marvelous thing that INFJs will appreciate. Nick says of Gatsby:
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning —
Classics like these remind us of the INFJ’s struggle — and potential. Yes, our world can be complicated and exhausting, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. No hero or heroine in a good book is simple; they are beautifully complex individuals, flawed and fantastic — and so are we.
You might like:
- The INFJ’s Paradoxical Struggle With Loneliness
- 8 Peculiar Traits of the INFJ Personality
- Here’s What Makes Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type Angry
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