Christmas gifts and I have a love-hate relationship. Some of the gifts I’ve given have become treasured reminders of special occasions, like the sweater I gave my wife on our first Christmas together. Others have been less inspiring (although practical), like the nose-hair trimmer I gave my brother-in-law a few years ago. But there’s one gift that I believe is an undeniable gesture of affection and thoughtfulness … a good book.
A carefully chosen book is a present that offers hours of enjoyment, inspiration and encouragement for someone you love. Here are some books I highly recommend that illuminate vital life skills and elucidate important ideas.
It’s a quiet afternoon at Wonder Widget. Business owner Bruce Banner is reviewing the first quarter profit and loss statement when Joe Schmertz, the IT manager, bursts through the door. “We’ve got big trouble, Boss,” he says nervously. “The changes we made to the computer software to increase productivity caused the entire system to crash. That big order for Great Gizmo that was supposed to ship today won’t go out. The vendor who did the software upgrade can’t send anyone until Monday. No one told Bingle in sales, and he just informed Great Gizmo their widgets are on the way.”
The veins in Banner’s forehead begin to bulge and pulsate. “Do you have any idea how upsetting this is?” he growls at his cowering manager “I’m mad, Schmertz, really mad.”
When I was a child, one of my favorite stories was “The Little Engine That Could.” Allegedly, after each of the umpteen times I heard the story, I used to act like the little engine and chug around the house, saying, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” This account was related to me by my mother—so it may be somewhat exaggerated for the sake of cuteness.
“The Little Engine That Could” was my first encounter with literature devoted to promoting a positive mental attitude. Although I haven’t done any chugging since I graduated from college, I still think of that story whenever I’m faced with a difficult situation or daunting task.