The Best Books for INTP Personal Development
In 2020, I’ve had more time and drive to read more books than I have in any year of my life so far. Each of these have been books that I’ve needed for this particular moment in time.
For me, 2020 represented an incubation period where we’ve been holed up inside and many of us need to make ends meet on our own terms. I’ve treated this year as an opportunity (as best I could) to regroup, refocus, and learn a few things.
It’s been a year of reframing what it means to be productive, learning how to build a community, reintroducing myself to creativity, knowing when to quit, explore the big picture of politics, learning a bit about economics, understanding the vast scale of human psychology, redefining personal life practices, finding joy in the little things, and dealing with my own internal ego shifts and needs.
Each book on this list means something to me this year and will probably remain on my shelf for years to come. There is no particular order in which to read these (unless suggested). I suggest browsing the list and see what pops out as exciting to you.
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If you have questions about any of these books just go ahead and leave a comment below. I’ll respond as soon as I can!
The best book for INTP productivity:
Paul Peters creates an accessible and attractive read about productivity for INTPs to sink their minds into.
Paul breaks down his personal experience as an INTP while also teaching about what it generally means to be an INTP in the modern world. He references Einstein, philosophy, comments on typical expressions of INTPs, and shares his own personal productive challenges as examples throughout the book.
This book isn’t just about a diagnosis of INTP problems, which is the overall beauty of it. There are some amazing practical tips you can take from this as an INTP from an INTP that is honest, revealing, and doesn’t leave you in the dust wondering where to go next.
This book reads like one of my own YouTube videos. I resonated strongly with his voice and was even introduced to a few ideas I hadn’t thought of for myself, ideas that I’ll be bringing into my INTP Productivity Workshop. This book is the last one I’ve finished for 2020 and I’m glad I did as it’s the perfect time to recalibrate my own habits and behaviors for the coming year of 2021.
Building community and connection:
Seth Godin is one of my personal marketing heroes. He has a few spots on this list as he’s been such a great inspiration for my own creative work and desire to build this business.
I don’t know his personality type but he speaks like an INTP with 40 years of marketing and speaking experience rolled in.
In all of his books, he provides ample examples that surround his main point, which creates plenty of contexts for fully understanding what he’s trying to say.
“Tribes” is valuable for understanding modern marketing beyond simply “posting your stuff on social media” or “being authentic.” “Tribes” is about building trust, created spaces for honest connection, and amplifying the idea of 1,000 true fans, and making that feel attainable as opposed to needing to be famous, make a big splash, or go viral with 1 million subscribers.
Recommended highly for INTPs who are trying to start their own business and trying to understand how to connect with an audience in the 2020s.
Developing a consistent practice:
Seth Godin’s latest book touches on the consistency needing for developing skill and expressing your creative self.
Seth himself has created thousands of blog posts, and as I said, he’s likely an INTP. This means that he himself is a shining example of the power of consistency. But that doesn’t mean strict scheduling and doing the same thing over and over.
Creativity itself is about expression and expansion and The Practice is a host of methods to continue doing that consistently and honestly.
This book is perfect for the INTP struggling with focus, contentment in their creativity, and difficulty with output.
Learn when to quit:
Another of Seth Godin’s wonderful works, The Dip is a book I read a few years and needed to revisit. Quite simply, The Dip is about quitting. Why it’s okay to quit, when to quit, and when to stick with it.
There’s always a moment of push when it comes to a big project, which can be discouraging but important to pay attention to. It’s kind of like working out, you hit a plateau and need to change things up. Sometimes, however, projects get to be too much of a time-suck, take up resources, and aren’t quite worth the effort, or the market simply doesn’t want it. This is The Dip.
The Dip is about knowing when to let go; something INTPs can find to be precious as a resource when we get caught in a loop of mindlessly going forward on something that is no longer good for us. Knowing when to quit can save a lot of time and heartbreak.
Economy within an evolutionary model:
Probably one of the more revealing and interesting books for me in 2020.
MEMEmonics looks at economics through the lens of Spiral Dynamics through what is called an “Integral” whole-systems approach.
Said Elias Dawlabani shows us the evolution of the economy, particularly in America, and how certain laws or movements have shaped the evolution of the economy in America, leading to what the economy looks like today (Pre-Pandemic).
I love a book from someone who is clearly 10,000 times smarter than me but presents it in a way that is palatable and interesting.
I’ve already been hooked on Spiral Dynamics throughout 2020, this just gave it a new flavor for me to try.
As an INTP, you’ll likely have some interest in this type of big picture awareness of a human development timeline, which makes this book intriguing, even if you’re not all that interested in economics.
Physical, emotional. mental, and spiritual clarity:
I dove into a few books by Ken Wilbur this year to get a sense of how someone in the second tier of Spiral Dynamics thinks.
Well, this book introduces all sorts of thinkers and leaders from different walks of life who are also likely in second-tier thinking. That in itself is pretty interesting.
“Integral Life Practice” presents tried and true methods for satisfying simple human needs. The book covers basic human needs like exercise, breathing, sex, food, and sleep. But the book is anything from simple.
The collection of authors take an in-depth look at each main area…mind, body, spirit, and shadow then give practical advice on how to calibrate, grow, and integrate these aspects of human needs into everyday life. It’s a strong tried and true reference manual for a healthy, consistent, and happy human being.
I bought the Kindle version but I plan on getting a physical copy as well to keep and reference, likely throughout my life.
How the post-modern world operates:
Another book from Ken Wilber, who was a favorite of mine this year, focuses on the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and how that all happened through the lens of Spiral Dynamics.
The book largely focuses on understanding the world of politics, social issues, and some of the challenges within the overall Spiral leftover from the 60s awakening of 6-Green.
This book sheds light on every internet argument you’ve ever had in the last 5 years, even if you’ve switched sides, angles, are young, or older.
This is a great book for someone who is not too dedicated to one side of the aisle or the other and is looking for a better understanding, a more objective understanding, of what’s happening and how it all came to be. This book provides a great opportunity to stop switching sides and start thinking about how to move forward and, at least for me, start to see a pattern in behavior and start to break out of the cycle.
Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology is primarily about thinking in psychological terms using multiple methods of human understanding.
Again, reviewing Spiral Dynamics, Wilber talks about the emergence of human understanding and points that in the direction of psychology.
This means thinking not just about “proven” Spiral Dynamic 5-orange versions of science but exploring consciousness, therapy, and other methods of understanding the human experience.
By the end of this book, you may start to think, especially as an INTP, about all of the different ways to think and approach problems that go beyond simply logic and data. This is an important lesson from this book that rests within the journey of exploring the ways in which modern psychology doesn’t cover everything that is helpful to know.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin is an exploration of what makes creators unique and how to escape the clutter of being generic in oversaturated markets.
This book explores the idea of becoming remarkable, which is an intense way of saying that there are beneficial reasons for taking your type to figure how you do, or can, stick out.
Purple Cow is helpful for you as an INTP to help determine not only what is unique about you but how to be unique and truly stand out amongst the market or in your creative endeavors.
Again, Godin provides ample examples for how this has benefitted businesses in recent years, which my pattern recognition greatly appreciates.
This book has left me thinking a lot about innovation, how doing something special is important, and combining this idea with some of the other books on this list helps me see how innovation is an important factor in my personal growth into Spiral Dynamics 5-Orange as opposed to just trying to exploit an existing industry.
A new look at marketing:
The last of my Seth Godin-related recommendations is the book “All Marketers Are Liars” which is actually a book about cynicism and telling stories.
The target is addressing cynicism in the world of marketing and also to show the difference between who deserves cynicism around marketing and who is doing it well.
I imagine an alternate title to this book would’ve been “Great Marketers Tell Stories” but that might not have sold as well. And that’s exactly the point, leaning into the public cynicism around marketing creates an opportunity to point out when narratives are used well in marketing.
Seth often talks about marketing being a more giving process, a community building, and a creative expanding endeavor. If you’ve been trying to start your own business you’ve probably heard the term “authenticity” being thrown around…this book does the best job of defining that.
Finding joy and purpose:
If you’ve had any interest in personal development then you’ve likely heard of Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
The book chronicles Frankl’s experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The intense experience led to the discovery of his own psychotherapeutic methods that focused on identifying a purpose to feel positive about and finding that positive element that others can’t take away from you even when you’re literal clothes and human dignity are stripped from you.
Having survived such horror is worth a story in and of itself but to have a message, a lesson, and a gift to give to the world as a result of it is another astounding measure.
I’m recommending this for INTPs as the tone is very descriptive in a more informational way and you get insight into his thought process during the experience. It’s reminiscent of The Martian in that sense, which is one of my personal favorite books, albeit a true story.
Combining major systems into a new idea:
Ken Wilber brings all of the major pieces together in this book involving integral awareness and theories related to Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality.
In A Theory of Everything, Wilber describes in immense detail how different systems, worldviews, and philosophies combine to create a complexity that ultimately becomes a simple essence of human needs and desires.
If you’re looking for a grand vision of the human experience, this is quite close to what that is.
This is another one of those books I want to keep on my shelf and revisit for a long time to come as it’s a great way to get calibrated to the self, the world, and what it means to be human.
An introduction to Spiral Dynamics:
To me, Emergence Vol. 1, is the ideal introduction to Spiral Dynamics.
Put simply and succinctly, this book recounts the original work of Clare Graves and how it was followed up by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan to create the more common conception of Spiral Dynamics.
If you’re a personal growth-focused person, Spiral Dynamics is a powerful tool in assessing your own personal history, where you are now, understanding some of the limits of your own worldview and why others are limited as well, and how those limits manifest.
Spiral Dynamics has been a way for me to personally have more patience for all different kinds of people who are operating based on their worldview, including myself.
I think any INTP will find the theory of Spiral Dynamics to be a fascinating model to experiment with throughout your life and perhaps act as a model that gives you some patience with people you don’t quite see eye to eye with.
The key to everyday fulfillment:
Animal Crossing kept me sane throughout 2020 and it was because the game provides a sense of what is called Ikigai.
Ikigai represents a purposeful style of living and in 2020, many of us needed consistent purpose and focus.
Ikigai is the Japanese secret to a long and happy life and this book represents that philosophy. Quite simply, it’s about keeping work, purpose, rituals, and living…simple, but with supreme focus and joy.
There are stories and accounts from centenarians, those who have lived to be over 100, and from people living in the world’s “blue zones” which are areas in which people tend to live the longest.
For INTPs, the patterns of what makes a “blue zone” makes for an interesting exploration along with the simple ideas presented for health and happiness.
This book acts as a helpful distinction in showing how rest and rejuvenation can be found through simple work and simple joys not just being passive and waiting. If anything, this book represents Introverted Sensing in a positive light and shows you how to do it well as an INTP.
Reference for managing ADHD:
Thriving with Adult ADHD is a manual for getting focused and achieving your goals despite difficulties with executive functioning.
I’ve been no stranger to reporting my challenges with ADHD and plenty of you have been open with me about your own adventures of diagnosis, confusion, and life difficulty surrounding this brain functioning.
Much of what I talk about on DOPEamine, is about reminding you that your mental difficulties are often not a death sentence. ADHD is certainly not. You have the ability to figure out rituals, systems, and make adjustments to accommodate this truth within you.
While the impulse is to use ADHD as a way to point out how you’re “less than,” Thriving with Adult ADHD reminds us that there is a way to be ourselves and live a full life.
This is not about being “normal” but being you and using this reference guide to bring that out despite how you operate differently.
8 Paths to Self Coaching:
Dario Nardi has been doing some of the most interesting work related to personality types. He’s the only guide I’ve seen who talks about the connections between personality typology and neuroscience.
“The Magic Diamond” brings some of his own work with brain scanning and extensive personality studies (with actual humans, not just internet conjecture).
Nardi focuses on Carl Jung’s credo of “If we’re talking about personality types, we need to talk about personal development.”
Dario Nardi shares extensive research, unique findings related to different types of cognitive functions, and a whole host of coaching tools for you to use in your own coaching business.
One of the most interesting aspects is the revelation of “analytical” and “holistic” versions of each cognitive function that may be useful in understanding how someone with the same functions can seem quite different.
Even if you’re not a coach, this book provides a unique perspective into personality types that will leave anyone fiending for advanced personality content ultimately satisfied.
Each one of these books has had an impact on me this year in my personal growth, getting me through 2020, and expanding my creativity.
Which ones of these books stick out to you?
Have you read any of these yourself?
What books have been your favorite of the year?
Remember that by clicking the links you support DOPEamine, so please use those links if you’re going to pick up one of these books.
As usual, if you have any questions please reach out.
Speaking of books, I have an eBook available for INTPs who are serious about their personal growth…it’s called Common Questions and Uncommon Answers: INTP Vol. 1. If you’re not sure where to get started then this is a solid primer to get started on your personal growth adventure as an INTP.