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Christmas gift books for the career-minded

With just ten shopping days left until Christmas, I thought I'd use this week's column to suggest some great gift ideas-in this case, books-for the working people in your life. There's nothing like a good book to provide insight, guidance, solace, and comfort, especially during times of personal struggle. Following is a very short list, mostly from my personal bookshelf, of tomes to inspire, motivate, and help you start 2010 on a great note:

For recent graduates

 Marketing Yourself to the Real World, by Susan Caplan. Caplan, a marketing communication specialist, wrote this book to help recent college graduates jump-start their job search. The book offers real, practical advice on everything from how to brand oneself to what to do after the interview.

 A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen. We leave college prepared to enter the rat race, but Quindlen reminds us that the real journey is about so much more than what one does to earn a living.

 How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. This book should be required reading for every freshman in every institution of higher learning. The book discusses the importance of interpersonal communication and empathy, and reminds us that the key to success is not what you know, but how you make other people feel.

For mid-career professionals:

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. Originally published more than 30 years ago, this book has been called the most popular job-hunting book in the world. It deals with career transitions and finding work which speaks to your passions and spirit.

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get it, by Barbara Sher. A motivational guide for those who want to make a change but are afraid to rock the boat.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel Pink. Good news for all of us creative, right-brain thinkers. Pink discusses how the abundance and automation of today has generated a greater need for artists, designers, innovators, and other creative types.

For the unemployed or those needing encouragement:

Who Moved My Cheese?, by Dr. Spencer Johnson. A parable about two mice and two "littlepeople" and how they react to (unexpected) change.

What Makes the Great Great, by Dennis Kimbro. Details how some of the world's most successful people overcame tremendous odds and outlines nine mental traits which precede personal excellence.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo. The story of a shepherd boy who circles the world in search of material wealth, only to discover his true purpose.

Do you have another great gift book to share? Email me. Readers would love to know.