Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On Reading People & Personalities

Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this text as a member of the Reading People Launch Team. All opinions are my own!

I recently wrote a little about this book in a post featuring the amazing bonuses that you'll receive when you pre-order Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything before its release on September 19th (that's next week!) and spoke about how it's been helping me to get to know myself a little better. I want to tell you a little more about how I've been thinking about and using this book to make small, beneficial changes in my life!

The work behind Reading People actually started long before the actual drafting of this book. Anne Bogel (of Modern Mrs. Darcy and the What Should I Read Next? Podcast) started exploring personality frameworks as a personal project many years ago. She was fascinated by the ways in which we can categorize different aspects of our personalities, and used her growing knowledge about personality to make her life happier and to better understand the people she loves. In Reading People, Anne introduces readers to the major frameworks used to describe personality. For each framework, she gives an overview, some basics, and points to resources to use in figuring out how you can both figure out where you fit into the framework. She then takes it one step further by offering some advice for using your results to understand your needs and the needs of others in your life. 

This isn't a book that you sit down and read cover-to-cover. It took me about a month total to read the whole book, because it's the type of book you want to pick up, read a chapter or two, and then take some time to digest the information and make some observations about how it applies to you. Reading this in one sitting might give you information overload and scare you away from personality frameworks, so I highly suggest keeping it on your nightstand (or on your coffee table) to peruse slowly

The book covers topics such as introversion vs. extroversion, highly-sensitive people (HSPs), the Five Love Languages, Kiersey's Temperaments, the MBTI and the MBTI cognitive functions, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, and the Enneagram. Anne points out that having an understanding of your personality is certainly helpful, but it's also not your destiny, and that the purpose of this book is to help you get to know yourself and others better so that you can not only be empathetic, but also play to yours and others' strengths. 

Here's what I've gleaned from it so far:

I am a definite HSP. Knowing this has helped me make sense of the situations in my life where I've felt most over-stimulated and uncomfortable, and is keeping me aware of the types of environments that I place myself in. This is also becoming increasingly clear as I dive into heavier reads for the Diverse Books Club. I've never needed my escapist reads so much as I do now, to help me balance out digging into hard topics. I'm also pretty aware of this when selecting TV shows and movies. (For example, going to see Dunkirk in theaters this summer was a huge mistake for me. I was rattled for hours afterwards.)

I am a strong introvert -- I knew this already, but in chatting with friends about this book I realized that some of my friends didn't know this about me. For those new to personality typing, this may be the most confusing part. I've had several people comment that I can't possibly be an introvert because I'm friendly and peppy. Being friendly doesn't mean I'm an extrovert -- it just means I have good manners! (Credit to my parents for that.) I would happily pick spending my Saturday night on my couch with a book over going anywhere with others -- just one example of needing to draw my energy from solitude rather than from the company of others. Letting people know that I need time by myself (or with a book) to recharge is one step I'm taking now, especially as we head into the holiday season. Thankfully, I have a partner who already understood this about me and happily leaves me alone for long stretches of time so I can reorient myself. If you're a teacher and an introvert -- you know the struggle is real every day of the week. Hence why my after school me-time, and time spent unplugged on the weekends is precious to feeling balanced!

My MBTI personality type is an INFJ, and for now, that's the only "type" that I have figured out. I'm not rushing to type myself under every framework -- as Anne stresses throughout the book, this isn't a matter of just taking a simple quiz, but of making observations about yourself over time and across situations. Right now, I'm spending a lot of time pondering the love language for myself and my partner, and trying out different ways to implement the five love languages and see what works best for us.

The thing I like most about Reading People is that reading it feels like an ongoing experience. It's more of a reference guide than a strict how-to, so I can pick it up whenever it suits my needs. Plus, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the gorgeous cover. I highly recommend this title if you're at all interest in personality frameworks (this is the perfect place to start) and think it would make a really interesting non-fiction pick for a book club -- it would be fun to see if you could guess the types of your fellow members! I should mention here too that it's really really difficult for me to get into non-fiction books, so the fact that I've picked this one up multiple times speaks to the accessibility of it.

Although I received a copy from the publishing team, I have another copy on order to gift to my mother -- because some books you just have to share with others but don't want to give up your own copy! (Bookworm problems, right?)

This title will be released on September 19, 2017

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Author: Anne Bogel
Publisher: Baker Books, 2017
Price: $9 on Amazon
ISBN: 0801072913
Format: Paperback
Source: Baker Books / Reading People Launch Team


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  2. Great post! I hope your mom enjoys this book too. It's such a friendly approach to understanding these personality frameworks.