It recently occurred to me that a number of book genres seem perfectly designed to appeal to people of certain Myers-Briggs types. If you’re not familiar, Myers-Briggs is a personality typing system. In the Myers-Briggs system, there are sixteen personality types. Each type consists of four letters: E (extrovert) or I (introvert), S (sensor) or N (iNtuitive), F (feeler) or T (thinker), and P (perceiver) or J (judger). Click here to learn more about each of these preferences.
I made a list of genres and Myers-Briggs types and paired them up. Sure enough, certain Myers-Briggs types and genres go together like ham and cheese. Of course, there will be exceptions, but here’s which genre I think best fits each personality type.
ESTJ | Political, Legal, + Military Thriller
ESTJs are decisive, forceful, and always ready to fight for their principles. They’re fairly traditional and more likely than the average person to have strong feelings about God and country. The idea of defending the public from corrupt politicians, lawbreakers, and hostile foreign powers usually appeals to people of this type. Think Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, and Tom Clancy (an ESTJ himself). Get started with these Goodreads lists of political, legal, and military thrillers.
ISTJ | History + Biography
ISTJs are practical, responsible, and detail-oriented. They have a tendency to focus on the past. As such, history is a subject most ISTJs find fascinating. ISTJs are also sticklers for accuracy, so nonfiction history books are a better bet than historical fiction, which can play fast and loose with the facts. Pick a time period or historical figure and dive in!
ESFJ | Romance
ESFJs are heart-centered people. They’re big on community cooperation, family values, and harmony in the home. The typical romance novel that ends with commitment, marriage, and a happily-ever-after appeals to the ESFJ personality. One classic romance novel I highly recommend to ESFJs is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. The protagonist, Margaret Hale, is an ESFJ and the theme of justice for the working class, which runs throughout the novel, will also appeal to ESFJs. Also check out this list of popular classic romance novels.
ISFJ | Historical Fiction
ISFJs are loyal, accommodating, and more social than other introverted types. Like ISTJs, they often have a deep interest in the past. Unlike ISTJs, they are heart-centered folk. Historical fiction gives ISFJs a more personal window into the past. See this best historical fiction list for ideas on where to start!
ESTP | Adventure
ESTPs are energetic, adventurous, and love to leap before they look. So naturally, adventure books are the perfect fit. Check out this list of the two hundred greatest adventure novels of all time. You might also want to read some true adventure tales. You can find a list to get you started at Goodreads.
ISTP | Western
ISTPs are action-oriented loners who crave a certain degree of spontaneity and risk. The lone cowboy trope in westerns is so common it’s hackneyed, and most of those lone cowboys are—you guessed it—ISTPs. It’s nothing but blood, sweat, the open road, and little gunslinging for these guys and gals. For inspiration, check out Goodreads’ roundup of best westerns.
ESFP | Bildungsroman
ESFPs are the only type I associate with a specific age. They are fun, adventurous, and always up for a party, traits which are generally associated with youth. Of course, ESFPs never lose that youthful spark and may enjoy revisiting the excitement and powerful feelings that accompany growing up with a bildungsroman. For inspiration see this list.
ISFP | Art, Photography, + Graphic Novels
ISFPs are quiet, sensitive, and artistic. They have a very well-developed aesthetic sense and have a deep appreciation for beauty. Art and photography coffee table books were made for ISFPs and they will probably also love comic books, graphic novels, and illustrated editions. Check out The Guardian’s list of last year’s best photography books and Goodreads’ list of best graphic novels for ideas.
ENFJ | Religion, Spirituality, + New Age
ENFJs are warm, empathetic, and charismatic. ENFJs seem to be disproportionately represented among cult leaders. This does not necessarily mean that you will become a cult leader if you explore this subject (please don’t), but it is true that ENFJs often have a real interest in spirituality. To get started, check out this list over at Goodreads.
INFJ | Fantasy
INFJs are insightful, idealistic, and imaginative. They’re strong-minded people who will fight for what they believe in but they also desire harmony in their relationships and community. The epic battles between good and evil found in fantasy stories like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are perfect for INFJs. (And, for the record, J.K. Rowling is an INFJ!) Here’s a handy list of the best epic fantasy books.
ENFP | Travel Memoir
ENFPs are enthusiastic, spontaneous, and adventurous. They are truly free spirits and they love visiting new places and meeting new people. Earlier this year a book called Walking to Listen was released. It’s the memoir of a young man who walked across the country, meeting people and listening to their stories. Most ENFP book ever. See this list of travel memoirs for inspiration.
INFP | Poetry
INFPs are sensitive, individualistic, and creative. They are the dreamiest of the Myers-Briggs types. INFPs are disproportionately represented among authors and poets. Edgar Allan Poe, John Milton, William Blake, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Sylvia Plath are just a few INFPs who wrote great poetry. For inspiration, check out BuzzFeed’s list of the best poetry books of 2016.
ENTJ | Personal Development
ENTJs are efficient, decisive, and commanding. They think big and are excellent at both planning and executing ideas, making them a force to be reckoned with. Natural-born leaders, ENTJs are relentless in their pursuit of success. Personal development books (not the sappy self-help introspective kind) are perfect for ENTJs. Here’s a list to get you started.
INTJ | Mystery
INTJs are curious, independent, and private. We like solving puzzles and finding explanations for the unexplainable. Mysteries tap into INTJs’ love of problem-solving, our tendency toward secrecy, and our fascination with the unknown. Here’s a massive list of amazing mystery books to get you started.
ENTP | Humor + Satire
ENTPs are quick-witted, alert, and outspoken. They love a good debate and are known for their ability to generate new ideas and possibilities. They also have a strong dislike for rules and limitations. Satire is the perfect genre for these classic iconoclasts. Here’s a list of humor and satire books to get you started.
INTP | Science Fiction + Fantasy
INTPs are cerebral, theoretical, and logical. They like to generate new ideas and speculate about all the possibilities, often walking the line between the fantastical and the scientific. Science fiction taps into INTPs’ fascination with the far reaches of what is possible. Here’s a list of the best science fiction books of the twenty-first century to get you started.
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