When you give a book for the holiday, you're giving the gift of lifelong learning, and all the happiness, connection, and career success that come with it. That make books one of the biggest no-brainer holiday present options out there. 

But which book should you give? TED is here to help out with its annual roundup of  recommendations from speakers to match any taste. The complete gift guide covers everything from kids' books to the best picks for sci-fi fans and science nerds. But here are a few of the best picks of TED speakers for the more business-oriented folks on your shopping list. 

1. Minority Leader by Stacey Abrams 

Corporate attorney Nikki Clifton calls Minority Leader by Abrams, a Georgia politician and voting rights activist, a must-read whether you're interested in politics or not. "I instantly related to and was inspired by Abrams's candid struggles to overcome self-doubt and embrace the full range of her abilities as a talented woman of color. Her writing is candid, eloquent, familiar, funny and highly digestible," she reports. 

2. Dare to Lead to Brene Brown 

Herself one of the most viewed TED speakers of all time, Brown is also the author of several books. Dare to Lead comes highly recommended by fellow TED speaker and educator Liz Kleinrock. "I read Dare the weekend it was released. It came at a time when I was going through some personal and professional challenges and helped keep me grounded and focused," explains Kleinrock. 

3. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull​

This book by the Pixar founder "takes readers inside how the animation factory makes their sausage. This book is one of the most intimate looks behind the scenes of a company's culture, and the impact it has on the people, business and product. I highly recommend it," raves Airbnb co-founder (and TED speaker) Joe Gebbia. 

4. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark

A.I. entrepreneur Pierre Barreau claims this book about the life of the Alibaba founder is as enjoyable as it is inspiring. "Ma's likable and easy-going personality makes the book very inspiring and fun to read, while also providing interesting insights as to how he managed to establish one of the highest-valued companies in China and the world," he says. 

5. The Big Idea by Donny Deutsch

Green entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba claims this book helped inspire her to leave a cushy corporate job and start her business. "It's filled with stories of entrepreneurs saying, 'There's got to be a better way of doing this,' asking, 'How can I provide an innovative solution to this problem?' and forging ahead to change the world with their ideas. A must read for anyone who is thinking about taking the entrepreneurship route," she raves. It's the perfect choice for the would-be entrepreneur in your life. 

6. Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu​

Here's a gift idea for the most frantically overscheduled woman on your list. "This manifesto/memoir is a reminder of how women are expected to succeed at two full-time jobs -- the paid one outside the home and the unpaid one at home -- and how we need to be realistic about our expectations in order to be successful at both," says architect Grace Kim of Drop the Ball

7. The Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson​

Also by a TED speaker, this book "is the definitive guide to creating the conditions under which human beings can collaborate, innovate, and thrive," according to fellow Harvard Business School professor and TED speaker Frances Frei. "It's the book you want when you're trying to do hard things with other people."

8. Rebel Talent by Francesca Gino

One for the hard-to-buy-for rebel on your list, Rebel Talent is also written by an HBR professor. "Her evidence-based take on rebels as innovators and positive change agents -- as opposed to the stereotypical person in arms against the opposition -- inspired me to lean into my own authentic rebel talents and to break some rules along the way," says psychologist Leah Georges

9. Give and Take by Adam Grant 

Arab businesswoman Leila Hoteit calls Give and Take by star Wharton professor (and fellow TED speaker) Adam Grant "a great book that encourages you to let your heart and values guide much of what you do at work." 

10. Athena Rising by W. Brad Johnson and David Smith

"I met Johnson and Smith, two amazing men, when I was writing my book about stopping sexual harassment and gender inequality. Through their eyes, I saw that these could be men's issues too," reports TV journalist and advocate Gretchen Carlson of Athena Rising. "Here, they provide the perfect guidebook for helping men be the mentors that women need them to be."

11. Powerful by Patty McCord 

In Powerful, former Netflix HR boss (and, yes, another TED speaker) Patty McCord offers "an incisive treatise against traditional HR practices," says entrepreneur Jason Shen. "In short, digestible chapters, she explains how paying top dollar, firing anyone who isn't an A+ performer and training employees on how businesses operate all helped Netflix become one of the most successful media and technology companies in the world."

12. The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock

"I've read the book many times, and sometimes I just re-read a section out of it. It's on my bedside table and in my Kindle, and I have found it a huge support during various phases in my life," says education pioneer Amel Karboul of The Heroine's Journey. "Most life journeys have been written by and about successful men. This book helps you understand the deep patterns in the journeys of successful women."

13. Taking the Work Out of Networking by Karen Wickre​

Have a shy and reluctant networker to buy for? Author and entrepreneur Chip Conley suggests this book, noting that "Wickre reveals a whole new kind of networking for our increasingly transactional digital world. Full of insights and helpful tips, especially regarding social media, this is the perfect book for anyone in the midst of a career transition or considering one."

"Who knew connecting with others for one's career could be so authentic, observational and reciprocal?" he asks.

Published on: Dec 3, 2019
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