Recommending books is a tricky business. One person's trashy romance novel is another person's treasure. Of course, a little background on a person's reading preferences can come in handy, but sometimes deciphering tastes can seem like an arbitrary and headache-inducing task. Still, we're willing to bet that like-minded people enjoy similar stories -- That's where Myers-Briggs comes in.
In case you don't spend a slightly embarrassing amount of time analyzing your own (or your crush's) personality traits, here's the rundown on the classification system: It's a personality quiz based on Carl Jung's typological theories that divides people into 16 types based on these four variables, which we've outlined thusly:
Introvert (I) versus Extravert (E)
Are you invigorated by office gossip or do you hide out in the nap room?
Intuitive (N) versus Sensing (S)
If someone asks you what time it is, are you likely to say "3ish" or "3:04"? In other words, are you a big picture thinker, or detail-oriented?
Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)
Are you a people person, or a "How It's Made" person?
Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P)
Is your desk covered it receipts, Starbucks cups, silly putty (?), and half-finished knitting projects, or a simple to-do list with every item checked off?
To learn more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, visit their website. Once you've figured out your type, check out the book we'd recommend to you:
"The Duty Fulfillers"
Traits: Practical, traditional, meticulous, realistic
Book: Good ol' fashioned realism! You may have already read "Middlemarch" and Dostoyevsky, so we'll suggest a writer of the American Realist ilk. Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" is pretty much what it sounds like; an excellent and accurate chronicling of the American Civil War, including detailed battle scenes.
Traits: Loyal, harmonious, committed, detail-oriented
Book: Marilynne Robinson's "When I Was a Child I Read Books" is a collection of the celebrated fiction author's thoughts on American liberalism, the soul as an intellectual concept, and, of course, reading books as a child. While she's ardently Christian, Robinson thoroughly places her arguments into a broader cultural context, making them relatable and entertaining to just about anyone.
Traits: Altruistic, insightful, passionate, calm
Book: Jeffery Eugenides's "The Marriage Plot" is simultaneously about self-discovery, romance, and the well-meaning trio of protagonist's attempt to put their newly-earned degrees to good use; All three wish to serve society in some way, and are stumbling to figure out how.
Traits: Pattern-seeking, independent, knowledgeable, skeptical
Book: Reading Borges's "Labyrinths" will help anyone of this type make use of their logical minds, as the writer -- who worked for decades as a librarian -- employed complex patterns, both syntactically and literally within his plots.
Traits: Flexible, hands-on, present-minded, analytical
Book: Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series blends action-packed Western elements with more technical, sci-fi descriptions in a way that would be pleasing to an ISTP. The prose is muscular and the plot is quick enough to keep them on their toes.
Traits: Lighthearted, committed, conflict-averse, desire personal space
Book: This type is both devoted and likely to take on a playful demeanor, which is why they may be likely to enjoy "Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm," at once moralistic and innovative.
Traits: Sensitive, imaginative, cooperative, thoughtful
Book: Julian Barnes's "Levels of Life" taps into the emotional core shared by most INFPs. His memoir about the loss of his wife echoes Joan Didion's similar, memorable stories, but Barnes's book ties in elements of magical, historical fiction.
Traits: Abstract, rational, ingenious, independent
Book: This type is the most likely to enjoy reading up on philosophy, as they think very abstractly (see: Mr. Ramsay from "To the Lighthouse"). Huxley's blend of scientific insights and social commentary in the classic book, "Brave New World" would probably appeal to them.
Traits: Adventurous, entrepreneurial, detail-oriented, stylish
Book: Charming, clever, and on-the-go, ISTPs are also remarkable not only at solving problems (thanks to their keen attention to detail), but also at convincing others to go along with their plans. Sounds an awful lot like a certain detective we know.
Traits: Outgoing, spontaneous, realistic
Book: Science fiction may be surprisingly enjoyable for ESFPs, who enjoy learning about new things and exploring uncharted territories. Sci-fi that's rooted in some sort of political cause, or with practical implications, like Margaret Atwood's "MaddAddam" trilogy, is the best fit.
Traits: Energetic, bright, confident, imaginative
Book: Russell's work is stylistically innovative and conceptually playful -- these traits recently won her a MacArthur Fellowship -- and her stories undulate quickly from fantasy to grim reality. ENFPs are likely to appreciate such an intellectual and emotional roller coaster.
Traits: Quick, communicative, rational, easily bored
Book: ENTPs love theory, and would probably enjoy David Foster Wallace's voice, which is both uniquely his own, and meticulously detail-oriented. His essays may be more appealing than his fiction for people of this type.
Traits: Wholesome, straightforward, practical, systematic
Book: ESTJs may be more inclined to enjoy nonfiction than fiction, and the dependably concise language Michael Lewis employs is sure to please them.
Traits: Giving, warmhearted, present-minded
Book: ESFJ's enjoy providing for the day-to-day needs of their loved ones, a trait they share with almost anyone who is passionate about cooking. Some of the best food writing America has ever seen was whipped up by M.F.K. Fisher, whose "Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me: Journals and Stories 1933-1941" blends her observations on the humor and comfort of writing with her love for all things culinary.
Traits: Honest, creative, organized, diplomatic
Book: These natural leaders with a penchant for social justice will find a lot to love in Katherine Boo's lyrical reporting on the economic gap in Mumbai in her National Book Award-winning, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers."
Traits: Driven, confident, efficient, goal-oriented
Book: Myers-Briggs describes ENTJs as "forceful in presenting their ideas." They're also likely to value efficiency to, say, more merciful or humanistic alternatives (hello, Inspector Javert!). Ayn Rand's powerful prose comes to mind; Even those who don't agree with her politically are likely to enjoy her writing style.