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A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

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THE PHILODOXER for 12/03/2006
Holiday Special: Books for Presents

So you decide you wanna get a book for that special someone this holiday season. In that case, forget those tired Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Christmas Carol choices. They'll probably just throw 'em in the fireplace, assuming they don't shoot you first. Here's a short can't-miss list of books that are sure to go over well.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

A surprisingly profound novel for being such an easy read, The Alchemist is one of my favorites and is probably the book I've given away the most. With qualities reminiscent of children's stories and fables, The Alchemist is the inspiring story of a poor young boy who pursues his dream of seeing the pyramids of Egypt. This is one for the optimists.

A popular little tome, it's also spun off two illustrated versions, one by Moebius and, more recently, one by James Noel Smith.

Highly Sensitive Person

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron

Here's a book for that introvert you know who wants to spread his or her wings a little. With prose that is very, shall we say, mothering (or smothering, depending on your level of tolerance), psychotherapist Elaine N. Aron puts forward her theory of the HSP or "highly sensitive person," and what it means to be one. After reading this, several friends to whom I gave this book felt they had finally been correctly understood.

Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

A book for that person who wants to spread his or her wings a lot. The classic of the moola genre, Think and Grow Rich is a simple but intelligently written overview of how to systematically achieve one's goals, money-oriented or otherwise. With a clear, if broad, methodology, and even homework-style exercises, the book is an effective tool for anyone with above-average ambition.

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Tried and true, this is the book for your typical non-reader who, for whatever reason, feels motivated to read something "smart." Historical accuracy aside, The Da Vinci Code is highly modern and cinematic in its execution. With short chapters and religious "truth" at its heart, the story moves at a mile a minute for us spiritually impoverished Westerners.

Amazingly, the superiority of the novel over the movie version lies in the extra layer of research and detail the book presents. To this end, like The Alchemist, there's also an illustrated edition of The Da Vinci Code containing cool photographs of all the relevant art and architecture that help to weave this mystery.

Complete A**hole's Guide to Handling Chicks

The Complete A**hole's Guide to Handling Chicks by Dan Indante and Karl Marks

As if it wasn't obvious, this is definitely one for the guys.... I still remember the silent, fuming anger of the girl at my local Borders when I bought this for a friend.

As wildly politically incorrect and Machiavellian a manual to the hunt for c**t as you can get, most gentlemen find The Complete A**hole's Guide either belly-achingly funny or panties-droppingly helpful, depending on how seriously they take its advice. I personally know one person who swears by its tenets, and he's always got an L.A. 9 or 10 by his side. He's also a complete asshole. Can't escape that part, I'm afraid.

Happy Holidays, folks!

-- Abel G. Peña

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