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FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Only one book has made the Amazon Top 10 every year for the past decade

Unsplash/Carl Cerstand
What are my strengths?
  • Dan Kopf
By Dan Kopf

Data editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

Hunger Games come and Fifty Shades go, but StrengthsFinder 2.0 is here to stay.

The popular self-assessment book has made the Amazon Top 10 bestseller list every year for the past decade. No other book appears even three times—though a volume from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series shows up in six of ten years. (Hover with your mouse on desktop or swipe on mobile to see all the rankings through 2016.)

Rank2007200820092010201120122013201420152016
1Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsA New EarthThe Lost SymbolThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s NestSteve JobsFifty Shades of GreyStrengthsFinder 2.0The Twilight SagaWomen Food and GodMockingjayDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The 3rd WheelThe Great GatsbyJesus CallingThe Girl on the TrainWhen Breath Becomes Air
10You on a DietThree Cups of TeaOutliersPublication Manual of the APAA Song of Ice and FireNo Easy DayKilling JesusUnbrokenAdult Coloring BookThe Whole30

StrengthsFinder 2.0, written by senior Gallup scientist Tom Rath, was released in 2007. Following on the success of its predecessor Now, Discover Your Strengths, it was an immediate hit. The publisher ambitiously claims the book “will change the way you look at yourself–and the world around you—forever.”

The book contains a code for an online self-assessment to identify your five major talents, plus about 180 pages explaining the 34 possible talents you might have. Such talents include straightforward skills like being “strategic” and “analytical,” but also more opaque abilities, like “intellection” and being “futuristic.”

The StrengthsFinder talents and assessment were developed by American psychologist Donald Clifton. The current version of the test is made up of multiple-choice questions, in which respondents are asked to choose between two descriptions of themselves—for example “I am a sensitive person” versus “I am a logical person.” The book has been criticized for being unfalsifiable and confusing, but this does not seem to have diminished sales.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 tells us, ”You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” It turns out that this is the message the book-buying public really wanted to hear.

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