Best Book Recommendations for Each Enneagram Type
For a long time, I was skeptical of the Enneagram. It’s a personality typing system combining traditional wisdom with modern psychology. Years ago, I had taken the test and didn’t identify much with my results. So I wrote it off and moved on.
A few months later, I got together with a good friend, who is basically an Enneagram guru (and has a great Bookstagram!) When I told her my initial result, she paused. “Hmm, that’s what you got? I can see it, but I think you’re more of a five.”
She elaborated on how sometimes we fill out the test based on the answers we want to think are true about ourselves. So that night, I went home and took the Enneagram test again, determined to answer more authentically. Turns out, she was right. Finding the number that was based on my genuine responses made such a difference (surprise!)
You can take the Enneagram as seriously as you want: you can do what I did and just Google a bunch of memes about your type (worth it); or you can do the other thing I did and subscribe to a newsletter that gives you daily meditations based on your type. But since you’ve come to Book Riot, I’m going to give two book recommendations, one fiction and one nonfiction, based on the core tenets of each type.
Enneagram 1: The Reformer
Principled, self-controlled, maintain high standards
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
Ones have a basic desire to be good or to have integrity, something both characters battle with throughout this novel. When Will and Phoebe meet, Will has just transferred to Edwards University from Bible College and Phoebe recently lost her mother (a loss she blames herself for). While Will pines over Phoebe, her guilt is slowly driving her to a religious group—or rather, a secret extremist cult. When the group bombs several buildings, Phoebe disappears and Will begins his own obsession: what happened to Phoebe?
I Should Have Honor by Khalida Brohi
Khalida was raised believing in the sanctity of an arranged marriage. Though she was promised as a bride before she was even born, her dad held a strong belief in education and prioritized her life as such. Her life seemed to be on track until the day she found out that her cousin was killed by her uncle in a tradition known as “honor killing” because she had fallen in love with a man she was not promised to. Khalida’s grief became a catalyst as she became an activist, “empowering the lives of women in rural communities through education and employment opportunities, while crucially working to change the minds of their male partners, fathers, and brothers.” Ones carry a sense of mission to make the world a better place, something Brohi undoubtedly accomplishes through her activism.
Enneagram 2: The Helper
Generous, empathetic, people-pleasing
Shelter by Jung Yun
Kyung Cho’s debts are catching up to him. While his parents live on the other side of town in the most exclusive neighborhood, Kyung can hardly stand to talk to (let alone ask for help from) the family that afforded him every advantage but was never kind to him. But things are forced to change when his parents move in after an unexpected act of violence against them. As tensions mount, Kyung asks himself: How can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child? Twos, whose basic desire is to feel loved, will empathize with these incredibly human characters as they struggle to achieve validation in their own ways.
The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
The world is filled with systems of oppression, continually perpetuating fear of diverging from the norm. The Body is Not an Apology fights back against those systems with radical self-love to heal the wounds inflicted on us by society’s expectations. This self-love can be incredibly difficult for someone who prioritizes others over themselves. In asking us to reconnect with the origins of our mind and body, Taylor reminds Twos that being generous towards oneself is not an indulgence, but a necessity.
Enneagram 3: The Achiever
Ambitious, self-assured, status-conscious
Severance by Ling Ma
Wanting to distinguish themselves from others, Threes can be known to throw themselves into their work. Candice, a millennial woman who recently started a job in publishing, is so entranced with her routine that she hardly notices the plague taking over New York. Despite what’s going on around her, she continues to go into work to fulfill her contract and get the raise she was promised. When she realizes her boss isn’t coming back anytime soon, she leaves New York with a group of survivors as they travel to the Facility, the place where they’ll have everything they need to start anew. Severance serves as a reminder that meaning can be found outside of the grind for success.
Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Threes’ basic desire is to feel valuable and worthwhile, something that often shows up in the form of workaholism and competitiveness. This book, co-written by the author of Come As You Are, provides a science-based plan to help women create a more joyful life by minimizing stress and managing emotions—in a way that isn’t condescending.
Enneagram 4: The Individualist
Sensitive, expressive, desire for significance
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Type Fours fear having no identity or personal significance. In Sweetbitter, we follow 22-year-old Tess as she arrives in New York City, landing a job as a “backwaiter” in a celebrated Manhattan restaurant. She learns to navigate her chaotic new life through love, lust, cocaine, wine, and decadent new foods. Danler paints a heartbreaking and insightful picture of what it means to be young, fragile, and full of hope in the NYC restaurant scene. The brilliant and evocative writing, the atmospheric moodiness, and the search for self will resonate with Fours’ emotional honesty and appreciation for authenticity.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Fours may withhold themselves at times when feeling particularly vulnerable or “too much.” In Untamed, Glennon Doyle gives permission to return to our truest selves—the ones that existed before society told us how we should exist in the world. In doing this, she shares the story of how she met her now-wife, seeing her across the room at a conference and hearing the words “there she is.” Finally hearing the voice that had been silenced by decades of cultural conditioning, Doyle vowed never to abandon herself again.
Type 5: The Investigator
Perceptive, innovative, solitary
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
While I’ve started with her first book here, Fives will be delighted by any book written by Mary Roach, with her entertaining and in-depth studies of popular science topics. Her books evoke the feeling of going down a good Wikipedia rabbit hole. In Stiff, Roach explores what happens to our bodies after death. She covers topics you didn’t even know you were curious about, such as body-snatching, cadavers as crash test dummies, and new alternatives to burial or cremation.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
As a Five myself, it only made sense to choose my favorite book as one of my recommendations. This story is so enjoyable to me (and I imagine would be to most Fives) because it really appeals to the imaginative and curious parts of our mind. The novel follows Rosemary Harper as she joins the crew of the Wayfarer, an aging spaceship with a diverse crew. Shortly after joining, the crew accepts a dangerous but lucrative job tunneling wormholes through space to a faraway planet. As they embark on their mission, they will face mishaps and thrilling adventures alike.
Enneagram 6: The Loyalist
Responsible, problem solvers, anxious
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Britt-Marie is known to those who encounter her as a judgmental busybody stuck in her ways. When she walks out on her husband, she realizes she must fend for herself for the first time in her life. Ending up as the caretaker of a recreation center in a small town, Britt-Marie becomes entangled in the lives of her new community, and people might finally realize that Britt-Marie has more imagination and heart than anyone ever believed. Sixes, known as security-oriented types, will find comfort in seeing Britt-Marie making a meaningful life for herself, despite losing all forms of security and support.
I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown
If you’ve read anything by Brené Brown, you know that reading her books is like receiving a warm hug—especially for Sixes, who often feel self-doubt. In this novel, Dr. Brown tackles the ways shame manifests itself in our lives, in ways both big and small. Pulling from conversations she’s had with hundreds of women and therapists, she’s able to shine a light on shaming influences in our culture and then provides comfort by explaining the ways in which we’re really not so different from each other. Furthermore, Dr. Brown doesn’t just show the reader that it isn’t “just you,” she empowers her readers to turn shame into genuine acceptance of ourselves and others.
Enneagram 7: The Enthusiast
Practical, high-spirited, spontaneous
Beach Read by Emily Henry
When protagonist January holes up at her late father’s beach-front cabin to write her next romantic novel, she’s unpleasantly surprised to find that her new neighbor Gus just so happens to be an acclaimed author of literary fiction. One evening, as Gus insists on driving January home from a boozy book club meeting, they decide to take on a challenge to end their mutual writer’s block: he will spend the summer writing a romance while she pens the next Great American Novel. As we follow along on the unknown adventures they create for each other, Sevens will appreciate January’s newfound ability to enjoy spontaneity and prioritize her happiness above all else.
To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins
On the eve of his 30th birthday, Jedidiah “Jed” Jenkins quit his dream job and spent 16 months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. In this deeply personal memoir, Jed shares his adventures by profiling the interesting people and scenic places he encountered along the way. He also shares with the reader his own internal dilemma that sparked the trip in the first place. His pursuit to answer the question: “What makes a life worth living?” will speak to Sevens sense of adventure and desire to find fulfillment.
Enneagram 8: The Challenger
Assertive, protective, confrontational
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This American classic depicts the fictional life of Janie Crawford, a mixed-race southerner growing up at the turn of the 20th century. It follows her as she searches for true love, fails to find it in her first two marriages, and finally, as it tragically eludes her in her third marriage. The novel chronicles Janie as she develops her own identity, despite the challenges of being both a person of color and a woman during a time where both were treated with contempt. Eights will identify with her growth and her unwavering belief that she deserves (and can attain) a better life.
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
I can’t help but recommend a second book by Brené Brown because honestly, everyone could benefit from her insights. According to the Enneagram, Eights’ basic desire is to be in control of their own life. This desire is only exasperated by society’s expectations of what a “good life” should look like. We begin to ask, “Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?” Dr. Brown pulls from decades of experience studying shame to show us how we can engage with the world from a place of worthiness and compassion, rather than perfection and control.
Enneagram 9: The Peacemaker
Easygoing, supportive, avoidant
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
When Lillian gets a letter from her former college roommate, Madison, asking for help with her two stepchildren, Lillian couldn’t possibly imagine what was to come. There’s one important detail she learns about her new caretaking gig: the children spontaneously combust when agitated. Over the course of a summer, Lillian and the two kids slowly begin to trust each other and form an unlikely relationship, one that will put Nines’ desire for harmony in their environment on a twisty rollercoaster.
Let’s Never Talk About This Again by Sara Faith Alterman
In a memoir full of dark humor, Sara Alterman’s world is turned on its head when she discovers that her dad is a campy sex writer who has sold millions of books. The books had remained a secret all her childhood until her dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, at which point he announced that he was reviving his writing career. And he wanted Sara’s help. In sharing this experience, Sara begins to see her father as a whole person, outside the context of parenthood, straying from Nines’ natural tendency to turn away from tension, and instead embracing the strangeness in life.
For more book recommendations based on your Enneagram type, check out our posts on Romance Novels for Enneagram Types or What YA Book Should You Read Next Based on Your Enneagram Type?