Friday, May 02, 2008

For A Quick, Fun Look at Personality, Try Charanavi

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

First off, I have to admit that I didn't read Charanavi by Masahiro Tsurumoto from cover to cover. It's just not that kind of book. Rather, it's the type that you can scan and enjoy without putting forth a lot of effort. Light and fun, Charanavi would mke a perfect addition to the stacks on your coffee table. I prefer glossy hardcovers, but you know what I mean - the book is a good conversation piece or icebreaker.

Basically, the art of Charanavi - which means "character development" - uses your birthday to determine into which of 12 animal categories you fall. Each category is broken down even further, offering results such as Restless Monkey, Ambitious Monkey, Devoted Monkey, Playful Monkey, etc. Once you figure out which best represents you, you can read all about yourself. You can also discover what fortune each new year will bring to you, which other animals (personalities) most complement yours, and which celebrities share your animal. The point of the exercise is, of course, to learn more about yourself and to figure out how to communicate better with those around you.

The cover exclaims that Charanavi is "mysteriously accurate," and that turns out to be true, at least to some degree. My husband and I both ended up being Romantic Koalas (all together now, "Awwwww...."), the animal's description fit him much better than it did me. He truly does "like to live in a world full of variety and [tries] to make changes in [his] life and surrounding circumstances," (128) while I resist change with all my might. After I looked up my myself and my husband, I went on to my children and siblings (basically the only people for whom I know not only the day of their birth but also the year). What I found was surprisingly accurate. For instance, my older sister fit the description of a Calm Pegasus (sociable, opinionated and highly motivated) to a T, while my younger sister is a perfect Swift Koala (sociable and good at choosing friends with her "keen, observant eyes" [120]).

Like any philosophy of this sort, some ideas apply, some don't, but it's a fun foray into amateur Psychology. Charanavi does not dig too deeply into the complexities of each personality; if you prefer a more serious (and illuminating) discussion, check out The Color Code by Taylor Hartman, PhD (see my review here). If you're looking for a light, fun look at personality, Charanavi definitely fits the bill.

Grade: B-

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