I tend to be very skeptical of any book that smacks of 'self help,' but "Please Understand Me" has been one of my most frequently referred-to books ever since I bought my first copy five years ago. I don't ordinarily push books onto friends and family, but somehow or other I can never keep myself from INSISTING that others read--and, most importantly--USE it.
I've always known I'm a kook, but never really understood why. I took the Kiersey Temperament Sorter in the front of the book, and found that I am split between INTP and INTJ, two of the rarest personality types. Most of my family members are SPs and SJs--small wonder they think I'm a wacko! And no wonder I kept thinking they were uptight, or lacking in imagination. No wonder they don't get my jokes (which are not really jokes--and if you don't get that, you need to read this book <laughs>).
The light "Please Understand Me" has cast on my relationships with my family and friends has been of inestimable benefit. Sure, my ESTP father drives me nuts, but now I understand why, and it allows me to step back and say, "that's how he is--consider this before tearing off on a rant, will you?" It also helps me understand why I am so close to my INFP kid sister, but fought constantly with an ISTJ ex-boyfriend. By understanding how the different types relate to the world and the people around them, it is easier to understand why they behave as they do. It becomes easier to be more compassionate. Rather than lashing out in irritation and frustration because I assume I know why someone is acting the way he or she does, I can use what I know about the Myers-Briggs types and try to see the world through that person's eyes. Some very problematic relationships have been profoundly changed for the better, as a result.
I recently bought "Please Understand Me II," and recommend it as a companion volume; it expands on the ideas here, and is gives more in-depth analysis of the types, but this is really where you should start if you're interested in Myers-Briggs. If you're stuck at Christmastime, wondering what to get your family members, maybe you could give everyone a copy of this book. Get them to take the personality test, and compare notes--especially with people you've never really gotten along with. What better gift than mutual understanding?