Have you heard of the Enneagram of Personality?
The Enneagram is a modern system rooted in ancient ideas. It features nine personality types in an interconnected diagram, and it is used to help people understand themselves, and others, better. While the Enneagram is not used in psychological research, it is widely used in various forms for self-help and spiritual development.
Just for fun, we thought we’d recommend a bookish pick focused on healthy relationships, both fiction and non-fiction, for each Enneagram type.
Let us know what you think – does our recommendation fit your personality?
1. The Perfectionist
The Perfectionist, also known as the Reformer, is highly principled, constantly seeking improvement and holding themselves and others to high ethical standards.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
This novel, centered around questions of commitment constantly upended by selfishness and adultery, will surely challenge a perfectionist’s sensibilities.
2. The Helper
The Helper is caring, demonstrative, and generous, but their need to love and be loved can also be seen as possessive and people-pleasing.
How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book, from the Zen master’s series of Mindfulness Essentials, is a simplified lesson on four guiding principles of love. The reminders to keep it simple, stay mindful, and love yourself first are perfect for a Helper who is always busy taking care of others.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood, the title taken from a Beatles song, is about a man looking back at the love and loss from his college days in Tokyo in the 1960s. It is a nostalgic story of the complexities of love set against the backdrop of rebellion against the social order.
3. The Achiever
The Achiever is driven by success and performance and is very conscious of the image that they project.
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
Written by renowned psychoanalyst and social researcher Erich Fromm and first published in 1956, this book explores many aspects of love to help people develop their hidden capacities for truly deep love.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This heartbreaking story of young love between two teens with terminal cancer shows that hurt is inevitable, or ‘set in the stars’, and yet the redeeming power of love can be found in the choice of who you let close enough to inflict that pain.
4. The Romantic
The Romantic, or Individualist, is sensitive and withdrawn. Often characterized as an artist, they can be expressive, dramatic, and self-absorbed.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Although this novel isn’t exactly your typical romance read, Edna’s rebellious attitude, her love of art, and the romantic undertones of what she believes in are stirring. Trust me: the fours will understand.
5. The Investigator
The Investigator, also called the Observer, is perceptive but tends to be withdrawn and secretive.
Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher
First published in 1992 and subtitled: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, this book is a study of why and who we love based on the data of 80,000 people. Dr. Fisher is a Biological Anthropologist, and most recently has worked as a Scientific Advisor for major online dating sites. This book explains how to make and keep a happy relationship through brain science and chemistry.
On Love by Alain de Botton
This novel by a Swiss-born British philosopher is about falling in love. The story follows a young romance from the first meeting to the final heartbreak, seeking through the exploration to understand the feelings that accompany love and relationships.
6. The Loyalist/Skeptic
The Loyalist is supposedly the most prevalent of enneagram numbers and it hints at a commitment, security-oriented type that tends to be anxious and insecure.
All There Is by David Isay
This collection of love stories from StoryCorps, the oral history project featured on National Public Radio, may leave you weeping, but will also give you hope that true love exists. The wisdom gleaned from those who have loved and lost can also serve as a guidepost, as told by an 85-year-old World War II vet, who always took to heart: “Things to Always Say to Your Loved One: You look great. Can I help? Let’s eat out. I’m sorry, and I love you.”
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love in their youth but she marries a successful doctor instead. Florentino spends fifty years pining for her and having hundreds of affairs until her husband finally dies and he can again declare his love.
7. The Enthusiast
The Enthusiast is fun-loving and spontaneous, exciting and adventurous, but can also be easily distracted and scattered.
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
The first edition, published in 1972, was subtitled: A Gourmet Guide to Love-making. An instant best-seller, this book was instrumental in the sexual revolution of the time. Illustrated with drawings, complete with hairstyles of the 1970s, it provided a contrast to the clinical treatment of sex that was represented in prior books.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This romance tells the story of Louisa Clark, a 26-year-old woman who is funny and talented but who underestimates herself. Her life changes when she becomes the caretaker of a young man, Will, who once lived a very enthusiastic life before being confined to a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident, and is now unable to find a reason to live.
8. The Challenger/Protector
The enneagram eights are powerful, decisive, and confident, but can also be willful and confrontational.
How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
This Memoir in Essays, published in 2017, explores the author’s experiences with love following her popular New York Times essay, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” (2015).
Choose Your Own Love Story by Ilyse Mimoun
I’m not sure how this made it around the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ copyright, but this is just like those wonderful books for young people, except you get to choose your own dating and love adventure, choosing from 50 scenarios and 20 different endings. If you don’t like your ending you can easily choose another, no strings attached.
9. The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker or mediator is calm and
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
This book caters to the strength of the 9, in trying to understand everyones’ side and make sure everyone is happy. First published in 1995, this book has been a popular best-seller since, spawning several related books.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
This bittersweet novel tell the story of a love affair between a 17 year-old American-Italian Jewish boy and a 24 year-old American Jewish scholar against the backdrop of an Italian summer. It will touch the hearts of the most stoic of 9s, as the young men abandon their love to live the life that their society and their families expect of them, although in their hearts they never abandon each other.
Amy C. Manikowski is a writer living in Asheville, NC.