At the beginning of 2017 I set a resolution to become a minor expert in personality frameworks. I love having tools for understanding myself and others better, and personality frameworks are a great way to build my toolkit. I’d say my expertise is still extremely minor, but it’s been fun to read, listen to podcasts, and take notes on what I’ve discovered.
Today, I want to share what I’ve read about the enneagram. The enneagram breaks people into nine types. I’ve found the enneagram focuses more on “areas for improvement” than other frameworks, but don’t let that scare you away. Everything I’ve read on the enneagram offers honest insight into each type’s flaws, and tons of observation on how to grow to harness the positive aspects of one’s personality.
There are many many books about the enneagram. My enneagram book collection hardly scratches the surface of the literature that exists, but I choose books that were recommended for beginners. I’ve learned tons, and what I’ve read makes me want to read more. That’s always a good place to start.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Road Back to You explains each type through stories about real people the authors know and work with. That’s what I liked best about this book. The chapters go beyond explaining what’s typical for each type, and show examples of how the enneagram plays out in real life.
The nine enneagram types are broken into triads based on where the types in each triad typically experience and process emotions. Three types fall into the head triad, three to the heart triad, and three to the gut triad. Cron and Stabile organize their chapters about each type by triad, rather than explaining types one through nine in numerical order. I found this to be really helpful in understanding what motivates each type.
I also enjoyed the list at the beginning of each type’s chapter on what it’s like to be each number. It was a non-judgmental way to show the positive and negative realities of each type.
The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
I found this book most helpful for learning about the history of the enneagram, how the enneagram is best used for personal growth, and the philosophies that guide the enneagram. This book isn’t light reading, but more of an enneagram textbook. There are many helpful self assessments and diagrams.
If what you’re looking for is deep knowledge about the enneagram framework in general, I would start here. The first part (nearly 100 of 383 pages) is titled “The Inward Journey”, and covers everything from the history of this framework to cultivating the awareness needed to discover where you fall in the diagram. The bulk of the book is spent diving deeper into each type, with tools for actually using the information at the end.
The Enneagram Made Easy
Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele
This book was the most fun of the three enneagram books I’ve read so far! Each chapter offers quick, easy information about each type. This book covers a lot of information quickly, and includes hilarious illustrations.
I like that each chapter starts with a personality inventory, where you can check the statements that apply to you to help discover your type. My favorite parts of each chapter are the lists of how to get along with each type and things a certain type would never do.
Perhaps what I found most interesting was the last chapter on how the enneagram correlates with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The two frameworks are different, but I found it useful to see how they could be used together. There is a useful chart in the back of the book that shows which enneagram types most commonly correlate with MBTI types. It so happens I’m pretty typical - it’s most common for enneagram ones to be ISTJs.
I should also mention that each of these books contains a bibliography or a section for further resources about the enneagram. I’m always happy to add to my to be read list!
Questions: Has the enneagram helped you to know yourself and others better? Have you read any great books about this personality framework?