Five Books for When Your Job Is Threatened

These are trying times, indeed, and few people's jobs are safe. So what should you read while your co-workers are down-sized around you, and you are asked to do more (and better!) with less?

Bartleby, the Scrivener, by Herman Melville. Not a book, per se, but I defy anyone to find a more useful primer for negotiating working life. When used sparingly, Bartleby's motto--"I prefer not to"--will get you out of unpleasant tasks faster than you can say abracadabra. Trust me. It works.

Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll. Go into the office bathroom. Look yourself in the eye under the unkind light and pretend you are going through that mirror. And that your boss is the Jabberwock. Take your vorpal sword in hand and...know that no one will bother you for quite a long time.

Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's not that your job is bad or that your industry is going the way of the buggy whip, it's just that you need to find yourself. So take inspiration from Gilbert's travels to Italy, to India, to Bali. They're all beautiful places, plus she found new love and a new career.

Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh. Just think, you could be an Indian coolie stuck in the hold of a ship on the way to work the fields in Mauritania. White collar woes can't compete.

What Color Is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles. Maybe it really is time to move on.

What others come to mind?

-- Rachel Hartigan Shea

By Rachel Hartigan Shea |  February 5, 2009; 11:28 AM ET Rachel Hartigan Shea
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These days, "Taxes 2009 for Dummies" would be a great gift for presidential appointees whose jobs are at risk.

Posted by: prokaryote | February 5, 2009 4:31 PM

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