One of the most regular questions I get as a self-identified MBTI nerd is ‘Which books do you recommend?’
There are a lot of Myers-Briggs books on the market – of varying quality. And if I’m being 100% honest, there is a lot of KILLER information online that will probably teach you more than most books. However, if you happen to be a big fan of books that you can actually hold in your hands (like myself), I’ve put together a list just for you!
Here are my personal favorite MBTI books – but by no means is this list comprehensive when it comes to quality MBTI literature!
Why it’s worth a read: This is an introduction to the MBTI that comes straight from the horse’s mouth – it is written by Isabel Briggs Myers, who is one of the two original developers of the MBTI. Though it’s now fairly outdated, it’s important to understand the ideas that originally founded the MBTI.
What this book does well: This book clearly and concisely explains the dichotomies of the MBTI, which is a straightforward and easy-to-understand introduction to the system. It provides good surface-level profiles of each type as well as many interesting statistics regarding type (though the statistics are fairly outdated).
Not recommended if: You are not a beginner to the MBTI. If you already have a base level understanding of most types and cognitive functions, you’re unlikely to learn much new information from this book.
Why it’s worth a read: You should read this book because it’s super famous and everybody in the MBTI world argues about it all the time.
What this book does well: It explores the four ‘temperament groups’ in extreme depth. It also delves into individual type descriptions with incredible accuracy and detail. The reason people argue about this book is because a large margin of the personality community believes that the temperament groups shouldn’t be sorted the way they are. But, in order to decide for yourself, you should read this book and come to your own conclusions.
Not recommended if: You haven’t read anything else about the MBTI. In many ways this book is a good resource for understanding different types but Keirsey is controversial (his perfect type pairings also make a lot of personality nuts go ‘ennnnnnnnh, maybe not though’) so you should read him alongside other authors to gain a well-rounded understanding of the MBTI.
Why it’s worth a read: Dario Nardi is pretty much the only person who has done significant research on the neuroscience behind cognitive functions. This book is an absolutely fantastic resource for deepening your understanding of the cognitive functions and understanding what your type says about how your brain concretely functions.
What this book does well: This book offers an excellent introduction to each cognitive function and explains which regions of our brain are active when we’re using each function. Simply put, this book does concrete scientific research well. Which can’t be said for a single other MBTI book on the market.
Not recommended if: You are brand new to the MBTI. The concepts in this book are relatively advanced and it may be difficult to understand if you don’t have a base understanding of the dichotomies and the cognitive functions before picking it up.
*Note: This book was added to the list after a few readers commented on its absence – purely unintentional! This is one of, if not the most important MBTI books to have on your shelf!
Why it’s worth a read: Carl Jung literally invented personality types. He characterized the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ as well as the cognitive functions. This book is an important read because it lays down the foundation of personality theory and reminds us what each key term meant before type theory was eclipsed by a plethora of stereotypes in pop culture.
What this book does well: This book lays down the original definitions of each cognitive function and gives its reader an indisputable understanding of where our current concept of psychological type stems from. Jung explains introverted and extroverted intuition, sensation, thinking and feeling as they were originally coined, giving the reader a straight-from-the-horse’s mouth understanding of the cognitive functions.
Not recommended if: You only want a base-level understanding of the MBTI, or are only looking for practical, hands-on tools. This book is the theoretical framework of personality psychology, not a manual for its current applications.
Why it’s worth a read: This is the only book on the market that explains each type’s ‘grip behavior’ in extreme detail. In a market full of flowery, ‘feel great about who you are’ MBTI books, this one offers absolutely invaluable insight about how each type behaves when they are unhealthy and under extreme stress.
What this book does well: This book explains cognitive functions and what it means to be in the ‘grip’ of your inferior function in extreme detail. It is the single most useful function-based MBTI book I have read to date, as well as the only book of its kind on the market.
Not recommended if: You are brand new to the MBTI. Like ‘Neuroscience of Personality,’ this book is relatively advanced and will be easier to understand if you’ve done prior reading on type theory and cognitive functions.
Why it’s worth a read: This book cross references EVERY SINGLE PERSONALITY TYPE with every single other personality type. I originally picked up this book simply because of how impressed I was that somebody had taken the time and initiative to do that.
What this book does well: This book provides excellent hands-on tools for interacting with each type, as each type. The insight it provides can be applied to romantic relationships, familial relationships, work relationships, etc.! It also offers an incredibly clear introduction to the MBTI, so it’s good for beginners and advanced readers alike.
Not recommended if: You’re looking for a book that focuses on cognitive functions. This book doesn’t include/focus on functions, though it’s clear the authors have a firm grasp of them.
Why it’s worth a read: This book defies the common assumption that type can’t be properly assessed until the late teen years, and suggests that type can be identified as early as infancy! You have to hand it to Tieger & Tieger for going out on a limb with this one. Plus it’s the only child-rearing MBTI book I’ve ever come across, so in that respect it’s the reigning expert in its field!
What this book does well: This book paints an excellent picture of each type at each age between infancy and late adolescence. It offers practical advice for parenting to your child’s type, and gives hands-on suggestions for how to reach as well as effectively discipline children of each type.
Not recommended if: Honestly, I can’ think of a reason not to read this book. It’s great for all levels. Even though it doesn’t delve into cognitive functions, it provides fresh information on each type that you cannot find elsewhere.
Why it’s worth a read: This book is an excellent tool not just for typing others but for communicating with them in a way that appeals to their specific cognitive style. Definitely worth a read for anyone looking to improve their communication skills and understand other types better.
What this book does well: My favorite thing about this book is that it’s an extremely practical, hands-on guide but it’s also highly informative. It teaches you recognize type in various different ways – from actions to appearances to voice patterns to motivators. This is hands-down the most comprehensive guide for typing other people on the market. It is also broken up by fun exercises and quizzes where you can practice what you’re learning! This is one of my favorite MBTI books currently on the market.
Not recommended if: You want to remain ignorant about other types. This book renders that impossible.
Call this shameless self-promotion (because it’s also that), but the following two books are books I wrote because I genuinely wanted to see them on the market. For type specific self-help guides that delve deeply into the specific cognitive functions of each type, check out:
The above books are recommended for anyone who knows, loves or is an ENFP or INFP!
Leave your favorite MBTI book in the comments!