What We Read: The Best Non-Work Work Books I've Seen

You are what you read. In that spirit, AOL Jobs will feature books recommended by our staff and contributors each day for the next week or so. As the year winds down, consider one of these reads to savor in your down time or give to a reader in your life.

When someone asks for suggestions on what to read to improve a career, the temptation is to list obvious books on careers and business, whether a What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles or Peter Drucker's The Practice of Management. But when you think about it, the traits and abilities that help someone achieve success in business aren't, strictly speaking, just about commerce. Authenticity, critical reading, strong communication, and clear thinking are part of a rounded life. And some of the best introductions to them have nothing to do, on the surface, with business.

Zen in the Art of Archery -- authenticity
By Eugene Herrigel

Eugene Herrigel's thin volume on his study of archery in Japan under a Zen Buddhist master is a brilliant approach to a religious and philosophic topic that embodies the precepts it relates. To my mind, another way to discuss this book and philosophy is as a form of authenticity. There is much fakery in the world, and business can be full of it. People who are authentic stand out without effort. Their work also stands out, because when they work, they actually work without focusing on making an impression. Authentic people can really get things done.

"'Don't think of what you have to do, don't consider how to carry it out!' he exclaimed. 'The shot will only go smoothly when it takes the archer himself by surprise.'" -- Zen in the Art of Archery