Book it: Give inspiration and ideas this holiday season

As someone who seriously considered a career as a librarian or book shop owner, I adore books  – and their ability to inspire, uplift and inform.  So when I consider Christmas and Chanukah gift ideas, books are always on my mind.

This year with the jobless rate at 8.6 percent, career books seem like a good bet.  So I asked some exceptional career experts to recommend the best books for work, job search and leadership.  Many of their suggestions appear in my blog (out on Monday). The rest are offered up here, with the understanding that any book selection must be tailored to the recipient, their personality and situation.

Margaret Dikel created The Riley Guide to help university professionals and students with career information. It has grown exponentially since then. Here’s her book suggestions:

  • Well Connected: An Unconventional Approach to Building Genuine, Effective Business Relationships by Gordon S. Curtis with Greg Lewis.  It is true – who you know makes a huge difference in your career.  Gordon explores a variety of ways to tap a network for introductions and opportunities to present your credentials to decision-makers will move your job search or career ahead at a much faster rate than you ever thought possible.
  •  Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World by Martin Yate (2011, Adams Media).   A great alternative to “Parachute” by another well-regarded expert on job search and career planning.  His writing style is more casual, so it may be an easier read, but you still are pushed into much effort in your search.
  •  The Twitter Job Search Guide by Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan, and Deb Dib (2010, Jist).  Yes, there are opportunities in the world of 140 characters, and not just job postings. A network awaits if you know how to tap into it, and this is your guide to doing it the right way (and avoiding potential problems).

Kate Wendleton is president of the Five O’Clock Club in New York, a membership group that helps professionals and executives with career transitions. Her advice and insights are always first-rate, whether I’m interviewing her for Fortune or for a blog post. Her book picks include:

  • Your Great Business Idea:: the Truth About Making It Happen.  by Kate Wendleton. Make sure your business idea works – for your personality and with success in mind. Contains dozens of case studies showing how people made their decisions. Offers business strategies  for start-ups including the “One-Hour Business Plan” technique to help your test your ideas.
  • The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women by Elaine Meryl Brown,  Marsha Haygood, Rhonda Joy McLean and Angela Burt-Murray. Said Wendleton: “It’s really for everyone – black, white and other, male and female. Extremely well written and full of nuggets for everyone.”

Phyllis Mufson, a career coach for 25 years, works from Philadelphia, is also an artist who makes and sells jewelry. She recommends:

  •  Leadership and Self Deception. Getting Out of the Box by Arbinger Institute. The Arbinger Institute offers seminars, videos and books to help organizations and individuals with problems springing from self-deception. Mufson calls this “a wonderful book on how people get in their own way, at work and in their personal lives. It is very clear about the mechanics of self-justification, the consequences, and how to set yourself free.”
  • Social Networking for Career Success: Using Online Tools to Create a Personal Brand by Miriam Salpeter – Social media is profoundly changing how people get and keep jobs, influence others, and build businesses and Mufson considers this book “very accessible and well-presented how to information.” It also was recommended by Riley in the post (link coming Monday afternoon).

I recommend these books:

  •  Better by Mistake, The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong by Alina Tugend.  This book, by a New York Times contributor, explores all the ways mistakes can trip us up or build our intelligence and resilience, Technically this is not a career book, but its findings could be useful to your career and your ability to bounce back from a setback or big screw up.
  • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko / The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need by Daniel Pink. This book, told comic book style, is great for the 18- to 25-year old who’s just starting out. It offers advice including “make excellent mistakes” and “it’s not about you” and it’s one of only a handful of career books I wish I had written!
  • Today We Are Rich by Tim Sanders. Sanders, who’s the author of one of my all-time favorite books Love Is the Killer App, writes about the wit and wisdom his grandma, Billye, gave him and how it guided him through his career at Yahoo and as a motivational speaker and consultant. This book may work especially well for anyone facing hard times or who needs some folksy encouragement and guidance.

To be sure there are many other great books available this year. If you’re looking for something more focused on spirituality, personal finances or wellness, check out the finalists in the Books for a Better Life award.  And if you’re finding too many books to give for the December holidays, consider offering some as a Valentine’s gift, including perhaps The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha.