Summer study

With the gorgeous weather upon us, the thoughts of many a book-lover turn at this time of year to hammocks, patios, cool drinks with plenty of ice … and hours spent in the sun paging through a good read.

Whether you’re hitting the beach or just the backyard, if the idea of another light-as-a-feather bestseller just isn’t doing it for you, here are a few alternatives meant to inspire, motivate and just plain get you thinking.

The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life. By Helen Palmer. HarperCollins, 1988

In the field of personality typing, the Myers-Briggs may be the best-known of the bunch. But if you’re looking for a deeper, possibly more introspective approach to self-knowledge, the Enneagram is a beautiful system to get to know. Rooted in spirituality, it is nevertheless completely accessible to seekers who wouldn’t identify themselves as spiritual or religious. It’s rich, sophisticated and complex. And Palmer’s book is one of a handful that I rely on again and again to remind myself of why I am the way that I am, how to work with rather than against myself and how to cultivate my best traits while being gentle with myself about my preferred traps.

Plenty of books have been written about how to use the Enneagram to find love, to find your perfect job, to find out how to lead or how to follow. But this is the best place to start if you’re new to the philosophy and just want to get to know yourself better.

Success as an Introvert for Dummies. By Joan Pastor. Wiley, 2014

This one’s a little closer to your typical light summer read. With plenty of bite-sized chunks, graphics and a healthy mix of theory and practical tips, this book is a wonderful addition to the collection of anyone who has struggled with how to fit their quiet, introspective selves into a frenetic, busy world.

Pastor starts out by carefully defining introversion — no, it doesn’t mean you’re antisocial, a hermit, or just painfully shy. And she moves from there into showing introverts how to navigate the worlds of relationships and careers, including public speaking, networking, managing and acing interviews.

A very approachable read to be sampled in bits and bites when you need a little boost.

Do What You Are. By Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron and Kelly Tieger. Little, Brown, 2014

And here we have one of the most popular works in the career development canon. Using the afore-mentioned Myers-Briggs typing system as its foundation, this book begins with a brief section to help you assess your type. It follows with an in-depth chapter on the best work environments and careers for each of the 16 types, including anecdotes from people working in the field about why what they do is a perfect fit for them.

With updated editions coming out on a regular basis, Do What You Are is a reliable guide not only of which career areas might suit you best, but also of which are feasible in terms of earning potential, job security and future growth trends.

Even if you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs years ago, it’s worth going through it again every now and then to see if you’ve shifted on any of the spectrums. And even if you think no one book could ever dictate your perfect career — you’re right; it can’t — this is still a valuable resource for everyone from young people starting out in the work world to midlife career changers.

Now grab your floppiest sun hat and a tall glass of something and head outside with book in hand to get to know yourself a little bit better!



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