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Good Reads for Teens: Personal Development Book Selections For Teens

Learning is a Lifetime Process (2018, November 11). Retrieved from

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Center City, MN : Hazelden Publishing.
ISBN-13: 978-1592858491
Paper back-$9.89



        The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown researcher, writer, and a professor has studied the physiological effects on the human body of negative thought and emotions. In this book, she offers practical advice and strategies to respond to negative thought and emotions to not habitually fall into patterns of behavior that takes away from who we know we can be. Interviewing men and women from the ages of 18-87 she Brown presents ten guideposts to guide the reader in the process to make deliberate choices that result in living an authentic life that is satisfying and joyful. The guideposts are authenticity; self-compassion; resilient spirit; gratitude and joy; intuition and trusting faith; creativity; play and rest; calm and stillness; meaningful work; and laughter, song, and dance.  Each guidepost is defined into clear applicable daily practices to change thought habits and ultimately our experiences in our life. For example, authenticity is not a quality that one possesses but a choice to let go of one’s desire to please others and not ourselves. To be authentic requires setting boundaries and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable above the habitual practice to be liked by others. To effectively practice the guide posts ultimately require to that you treat yourself with the love and respect we usually offer others and not ourselves.                        


To read this book and put into practice the ten guideposts as a young adult is invaluable.  As young adults begin their lives the guide posts are supported with scientific evidence and guided reading worksheets to change thought habits and personal experiences. I really think this book is a great resource for young adults to prioritize what is important for each person and then identify goals that are in alignment with these values. I think that if young adults put the guide posts explained in this book that personal and professional satisfaction will be the result.

(n.d.). Retrieved from

The Tao of Pooh

ISBN-13: 978-0140067477
Hoff, B. (July 28, 1983). The Tao of Pooh. New York: Published in Penguin Books.

In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff explains the principles of Taoism through Winnie the Pooh and explains Winnie the Pooh through the principles of Taoism” (Hoff, p. xii). Analyzing the characters within the Winnie the Pooh through the lens of Taoism principles offer the reader clear examples of how to be and how not to be. Concepts of identity, attitude, knowledge vs. wisdom and humility are central themes that are discussed and explained by the retelling of Pooh’s interaction with his friends. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we lost sight of what is really important. We start to see life as Hoff states: sour and bitter. However, we can look at the example of Pooh Bear. He is perfectly content with life. He never gets down or negative. His friends, however, are very different. Such as, Rabbit who runs through life worried, rushed, and frustrated, never content with the present. And Eeyore is even worse. He is constantly negative and seeing life as bitter. As Hoff puts it, “attitude gets in the way of things like wisdom and happiness, and pretty much prevents any sort of real accomplishment in life” (Hoff, p. 16).


Once again, my only regret is that I did not come across this book sooner. Eastern practices are seldom presented to young adults; too often one must investigate Eastern teachings and practices independently. I think presenting a foreign teaching in a children’s story that many of us have grown up reading is a great way to learn about other traditions than our own as well as compare the teachings with our own traditions to adopt any practices that might be better suited for our current lifestyle and personal goals. I have seen too many teens overwhelmed, anxious, and self-destructive with the process of planning and the decisions that need to be made post high school and this book offers a wonderful alternative to the Western value of competition and being ahead of others.            

(2018). Retrieved from

The Alchemist

Coelho, P. (1993). The Alchemist. HarperOne; 1st English edition (April 25, 1993)
ISBN-13: 978-0061122415

Awards: Nielsen Gold Book, UK, 2004, the Corine International for Best Fiction, Germany, 2002.

            The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho is well-known since its original English translation in 1993. The book’s message of a personal legend inside every person is one every young person benefits from and should internalize. The main character a shepherd boy Santiago who is taunted by a personal dream that shows himself in the desert in search of his personal treasure, through chance meetings with a gypsy who believes so strongly in his dream she requests no payment for the reading but instead wants 10% of the treasure he is in search of. Later, a king who knows of Santiago’s personal legend provides him with the confidence to leave his homeland of Spain to travel to the foreign lands in Africa in search of his treasure. Throughout his journey, Santiago suffers setbacks, hardships, but also discovers love, friendship, and confirmation that he is supported by the universe, “when you truly want something the universe conspires in helping you achieve it”. So, truthfully no one should allow life’s experiences to discourage him/her from achieving their personal legend, but too many people lose confidence in their personal legend and settle for a life that is less than who they truly are.  


            I regret not reading this book sooner in my life and recommend that everyone young and old read the book repeatedly, the message is timeless that speaks to the human spirit that is inside everyone. It resonates with the reader because there is a part inside all of us that knows everyone has a personal legend and everyone wants to live their personal legend if it wasn’t for our fears that too often overpower us. 

(2018). Retrieved from

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos

Beauchamp, Z. (2018, November 21). Jordan Peterson, the obscure Canadian psychologist turned right-wing celebrity, explained. Retrieved from Vox:

Peterson, J. B. (2018). 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote for Chaos. Random House Canada.
ISBN-13: 978-0345816023
Paper back-$15.39


Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos is currently the most popular self-improvement book on the market. There is an abundance of material online that presents the work of Jordan Peterson a clinical psychologist, psychology professor previously at Harvard and the University of Toronto. Peterson came into celebrity when he took a stand against the Canadian parliament Bill C-16 that required faculty to refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns to ban discrimination against people on the basis of “gender identity”. “I’m not using the words that other people require me to use.” Peterson released a series of YouTube videos attacking the bill as a grave threat to free speech rights. In his view, “radically politically correct thinking.” He argued that C-16 would lead to people like him being arrested. (Beauchamp, 2018) Online viewers are able to view Peterson eloquently defend himself against his critics who are quick to try to paint the intellectual as right-wing; conservative. He refuses to be a part of the tribal politics that has become the fodder of the day and successfully manages to support his position with intelligence and evidence.


 His current book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos Encouraging more people to critically think about the world around them and become the change they want to see in the world but only after they organize their own world first. Peterson supports the rules he explains with his experience with human behavior, personality, psychology, and science. This approach encourages a more skeptical reader to evaluate the rules for him/her self while also providing a systematic approach on how to implement the rules in daily practice. My favorite rule in the book is chapter two, Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. Peterson presented the fact that people were repeatedly more vigilant on filling the prescriptions of their pets and having their pets take their required medication than they were their own. For a person to be able to actively pursue and achieve their goals one’s life must represent a balance between order and chaos. Practicing bad habits that keep one from taking good care of themselves results in an imbalance where chaos is allowed to take root and ultimately keeps a person from taking right action towards his/her goals.


I would recommend this book to college students and beyond. The writing is academic that references much of Peterson’s experience as a clinician and professor, so it might be more accessible to secondary students in an audible format. However, it is a self-development book everyone should read for themselves and consider their ideas and strategies. 

(2018, November ). Retrieved from

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

Manson, M. (2016). The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. New York: Harper; 2nd Edition edition (September 13, 2016).
ISBN-13: 978-0062457714
Paper back-$15.99

            If the repeated message of positive thought followed by inspired action presented in this genre of personal improvement books seem too good to be true and unrealistic for you to apply to your life then Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is probably more your speed. The first chapter is entitled Don’t Try, “our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. But when you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice—all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time —is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be and then emphasizes them for you” (Manson, 2016, p. 10). In a sense, Manson is reinforcing an important message, understanding what you are giving a F*ck about, deciding not to give a F*uck about the things that do not matter in our lives will free up mental resources and time for the things we really care about. In chapter 5, titled you are always choosing, retells the early difficulties of William James who grew up sickly and whose prominent family often paid for his educational and social opportunities. Despite having material advantages, success never materialized for William James until he decided to take 100% responsibility for everything that occurred in his life. According to Manson, “during this period, he would do everything in his power to change his circumstances, no matter the likelihood of failure. If nothing improved in that year, then it would be apparent that he was truly powerless to the circumstances around him, and then he would take his own life. The punch line? William James went on to become the father of American psychology. His work has been translated into bazillion languages, and he’s regarded as one of the most influential intellectuals/philosophers/psychologists of his generation (Manson, 2016, p. 88).


    I think this is a great alternative to self-improvement that often comes across as illogical and impractical. The writing style is straightforward and offers real-world examples of people past and present on how to change the circumstances that we are no longer willing to tolerate in order to give a fuck about what we want and creating a realistic strategy to create the circumstances that we desire. The book’s candid style and real-world explanations will be attractive to many teenagers who will enjoy its candor and probably try to put into practice.         

2018, November 21). Retrieved from

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Sincero, J. ( 2013). You are a BadAss: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awsome Life. New York: Running Press Adult.
ISBN-13: 978-0762447695

In You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero uses her own life struggle for a greater income as a writer and musician to explain strategies on how to move from a mediocre lifestyle to a satisfying life. The book is written with colorful language much in the same style as Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Sincero asks the reader to remove limiting subconcious beliefs that were learned by our family and friends. Sincero encourages the reader to create new beliefs that are more aligned with who we are now and what we want to become. To identify what our new beliefs should be we should answer the following questions; is this thought something that is true to what I want to be, do or have?, is this thought taking me where I want to go?, Does this thought that I am currently having damage, anyone?


While I usually enjoy reading personal development books as a pass time. I did not enjoy this book. Unlike Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, that retells other people’s life stories in the practical advice that he provided, it was the retelling of how other people applied his suggested advice that was interesting while being a practical example as well.     

(2018, November 19). Retrieved from


Getting There: A Book of Mentors

Segal, G. Z. (2015). Getting There: A Book of Mentors. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
 ISBN-13: 978-1419715709
Paper back-$16.89



In Getting There: A Book of Mentors, Gillian Segal interviews thirty of today’s most successful cultural figures in American society. It is very easy to see a person experiencing the success we want for ourselves and believe that the journey to their success did not compare to our own perceived obstacles in achieving our own desired success. However, in reading the various challenges that prominent personalities like, investor Warren Buffet, Lawyer David Boies, John Paul Mitchell founder Paul Mitchell Systems/Patron Spirits, and Ian Schrager, entrepreneur and real estate developer just to name a few, one understands that success is a journey of valleys and peaks that are sometimes repeated multiple times until personal success is actually realized.  The interview that stood out for me was by Ian Schrager, who founded the infamous Studio 54 club of the 1970s and lost it all in 1980 when Schrager and his partner Steve Rubell were charged with tax evasion. Upon his release from prison in 1981 Schrager and his partner had to start from scratch and did finding success again in the hospitality industry with the Ian Schrager Company, which owns, develops and manages hotels, residential and mixed-use projects. It was so interesting Schrager and his partner Rubell were not discouraged by their losses and continued to pursue creating new entrepreneurships that recreated the same financial abundance they experienced in their youth.


            Young adults will really enjoy reading this book because understanding the difficulties that the people interviewed overcame is so encouraging while also allowing the reader to identify common threads among all the successful persons who were interviewed. A commonality among all the people interviewed that was significant to me was that they all spent little time focusing on their setbacks and failures quickly moving on to the next idea and potential opportunity. I think this book can be used as a reference point for young people that want a mentor but do not necessarily have access to one because it is encouraging to read about people who have overcome their circumstances to create the life they want.   

(2018, November). Retrieved from

Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny

Harper, H. (April 12, 2006). Letters to a Young Brother-Manifest Your Destiny. New York: Penguin Random House.​
ISBN-13: 978-0061122415
Paper back-$3.99

                 Harper Hill is an actor, writer and political activist whose book, Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny offers practical life advice to the African-American community. His first book, Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny developed from fans who wrote letters to Hill asking him for advice to be successful. Understanding the current extent of single family households within the African American community he offers clarifying advice to teens who have limited access to successful male role models. The book is organized into five parts; Building a Solid Foundation, Mining Our Resources, The Real Deal, Dreams and Aspirations, and Winning at Your Life. In part II, letter number six- Quitting vs. Changing Your Mind the concept between quitting and changing is reviewed, “there is a difference between “quitting” something and “changing your mind” and deciding not to do it anymore.  When you “change what you are doing,” that means that you stop doing something that is holding you back from realizing your true destiny. When you say you are quitting something, it means you’re stopping because it’s hard, challenging, uncomfortable, or raises a fear in you” (Harper, April 12, 2006, p. 43).  The conversational style within the correspondence is informal, with examples that allow the reader to question the motivations behind his/her thoughts before taking action. The letters written to his inquiring fans are not all written by Hill himself but also include letters by other colleagues from within the entertainment industry that also offer advice on relevant topics like sex and relationships by actress Gabrielle Union and even President Barack Obama who offers advice on creating and maintaining a vision for your life.


                The informal style in which the book is written combined with the various perspectives offered on different topics by different personalities within popular culture make this an enjoyable read for young adults while offering practical guidance to support a young adult through the journey of life and personal discovery.  At the end of the book, a young teen can come away from the book truly feeling as though he/she has a big brother that is invested in his/her well-being.