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Solace in Solitude: 11 Refreshing Books for the Introverted Soul

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

As a self-professed introvert, I did not find quarantine as difficult as my extroverted friends did. I missed many things about the outside world, of course, but in the immortal words of Emma, “Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” If you are like me and enjoying your time snug at home, here are some books about kindred spirits for you. 


A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ove is a lonely, bitter curmudgeon who spends his time patrolling his neighborhood and scolding people for driving in the car-free area or not sorting recycling correctly. But then one day his inept new neighbor crashes into his mailbox with a moving van. The family forces their friendship upon him, and his life will be changed forever. 

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A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman

“If you like to laugh AND feel moved AND have your heart applaud wildly for fictional characters, you will certainly fall for the grumpy but lovable Ove (it’s pronounced “Oo-vuh,” if you were wondering).”

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, thank you very much. She goes to work, spends her evenings at home alone, and on the weekends has takeout pizza and vodka. Once a week, she has a phone call with her cruel, hypercritical mummy. But when she and a bumbling IT guy from her office help an elderly man who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three of them form a bond that helps Eleanor realize that maybe, just maybe, she is not as fine as she wants to believe. 

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Gail Honeyman

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

AJ. Fikry is lonely bookstore owner whose business is failing. And now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a child is abandoned in the store, things begin to change in this funny, uplifting tale. 

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry’s life is not going according to plan. Unmarried, alone, and running a bookstore on the brink of collapse, he has just discovered that one of his most prized possessions, a rare folio of poems written by Edgar Allen Poe, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears one morning at the store, its unexpected arrival gives him the chance to see everything anew.

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Lily and the Octopus
by Steven Rowley

Ted—a gay, single, struggling writeris stuck: he is unable to open himself up to intimacy except through the steadfast companionship of Lily, his elderly dachshund. When Lily’s health is compromised, Ted vows to save her by any means necessary. By turns hilarious and poignant, this adventure illuminates beautiful truths of loss and longing. 

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Lily and the Octopus
Steven Rowley

Ted and his elderly dachshund are at the center of this story of steadfast companionship, loss, and longing that will break your heart and put it back together again. The two share a comfortable life spent chatting about boys, playing board games, and ordering pizza just so Lily can bark at the delivery boy. But then the Octopus arrives and their simple little world begins to change. By turns hilarious and poignant, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS is a book you’ll never stop talking (and crying) about.

Read the full review of LILY AND THE OCTOPUS.

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CIRCE
by Madeline Miller

Circe is the least-favored child of Helios, the god of the sun; she is neither powerful nor beautiful, and thus is seen as unworthy of attention. When she begins to show signs of a talent for witchcraft and makes a bold decision that angers her father, she is banished to a deserted island. She becomes accustomed to isolation, honing her craft as a sorceress and taming lions to be her companions. But the course of her immortal life will put her in contact with many larger-than-life figures of mythology, from the Minotaur to Icarus and Daedalus to Odysseus. 

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CIRCE
Madeline Miller

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My Sister, the Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Korede mostly keeps to herself—this is prudent when your sister is a serial killer who keeps bumping off her boyfriends and you are helping her cover up her crimes. Korede sees taking care of her beautiful, charming, sociopathic sister as her responsibility. So she goes to her job at the hospital, pines after a handsome doctor, and keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram while she is supposed to be mourning her “missing” boyfriends. But when Korede’s crush asks her for Ayoola’s phone number, she is going to have to decide whether she is willing to protect her sister at the possible expense of his life. 

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My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite

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Quiet
by Susan Cain

Read this passionate, well-researched, fascinating exploration of the power of introverts and know that you are in good company. Introverts like Rosa Parks and Chopin have made powerful, lasting contributions to society in all fields. Don’t underestimate the quiet people among us! 

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Quiet
Susan Cain

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MENTIONED IN:

Solace in Solitude: 11 Refreshing Books for the Introverted Soul

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 16, 2020

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Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come
by Jessica Pan

Jessica Pan chronicles a hilarious, tough, and brave year in which she fought against her introverted nature and tried to live as an extrovert would. Facing challenges that would make me shudder—from talking to strangers to performing stand-up comedy—she explores what there is to learn from living more boldly. 

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Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come
Jessica Pan

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MENTIONED IN:

Solace in Solitude: 11 Refreshing Books for the Introverted Soul

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 16, 2020

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt

June is a shy and misunderstood teenager who can only be herself in the company of her beloved godfather, Finn. When he dies of a mysterious illness, June’s world is turned upside down. But then she receives a mysterious package containing a teapot from Finn’s apartment with a note inside from a stranger named Toby who wants to meet. As they spend time together, June realizes that she may not be as alone as she thought. 

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Carol Rifka Brunt

In this tender coming-of-age story, June Elbus is fourteen years old and grieving the loss of her uncle Finn, a renowned painter with whom she shared a special bond. Though her mother refuses to speak about the mysterious illness that Finn suffered from, his death brings a new friend into June’s life: one whom she must keep secret, but will ultimately help her heal.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson

Lisbeth Salander is a brilliant hacker who is the ultimate introvert: abrasive, antisocial, and profoundly damaged, she only opens herself up to her kind legal guardian. But when he suffers a stroke and is unable to perform this function, she is set up with a sadistic new guardian. At the same time, she is enlisted by disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist to help him investigate a decades-old disappearance and a possible serial killer targeting women. 

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist, and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander team up to investigate the 40 year disappearance of Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families. Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

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The Friend
by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she becomes the reluctant custodian of his dog. Together, the two contend with grief and loss. Shunning other company and withdrawing from the world, she becomes obsessed with the dog’s care, trying to connect with his thoughts and his heart.  

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The Friend
Sigrid Nunez

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MENTIONED IN:

Solace in Solitude: 11 Refreshing Books for the Introverted Soul

By Sarah Jane Abbott | July 16, 2020

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Photo Credit: seb_ra/iStock

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