Here’s a list of good books for teens that I put together. Parents often tell me how hard it is to find good books for teenagers, because they get bored so easily. If you want to keep a teen’s attention, you need to be talking about something relevant.
The books on this list are considered good books for teens because they deal with topics that most teenagers today find immediately relevant and important. This gives teens a reason to care about the subject matter and keep reading even when they get a little bored.
I have personally read all of these books and I believe they are good books for teens. But don’t overload your teen with all of these books at once. Just give your teen a couple books at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed with all the reading. Reading should be fun and stress-free.
Check out the 10 books that I’ve selected for my list and then decide on a couple that seem the most relevant for your own teenager. Start with those. I’ve found that parental intuition is remarkably good for these kinds of decisions, so don’t be afraid to go with your gut! You know your teen better than anyone else on the planet.
10 Good Books for Teens
1. Getting Things Done for Teens
By David Allen
There are many good books for teens on productivity and success, but in my opinion, David Allen’s Getting Things Done for Teens stands out as one of the very best. David is one of the highest-selling productivity authors on the planet, having written the hugely popular Getting Things Done. In his new book, he teams up with a couple of great co-authors and a team of illustrators to adapt his famous system into a version for teenagers.
The book is centered around two cartoon characters that represent different parts of the brain and it helps teens learn a bit about what is going on inside of their heads. This is on my list of good books for teens because it provides useful and relevant information to teens in an accessible format that doesn’t speak down to the reader or waste your time.
If your teen needs a better system for keeping track of their due dates, email inbox, and appointments, and would like to get rid of the stress surrounding whether they will get everything done on time, this book is highly recommended.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my interview with David Allen.
By Mitch Prinstein
It should be obvious why this made my list of good books for teens. Popularity is an issue that’s important to every teen. This is because the parts of the brain that deal with social rewards are maturing quickly but the “control center” that’s supposed to keep everything in check hasn’t caught up yet.
In Popular, Mitch Prinstein writes with wit and charm about his research on popularity and some really interesting findings he’s made in his lab. I think any books about the teenage brain are good books for teens to read because it makes them more self-aware. If you know what your own limitations are then you can start to notice your own tendencies and catch yourself.
This book isn’t written specifically for teens, but it’s very accessible and it contains a lot of stories from when the author was a teenager himself. That’s why it’s on my list of good books for teens. This is a book that will pull teens in and fascinate them while also teaching them a few valuable lessons about how to create deep and lasting relationships for the rest of their lives.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Mitch Prinstein.
3. Never Split the Difference
By Chris Voss
If you think about it, much of a teenager’s life involves negotiating with adults for more privileges, so books about influence, dealmaking, and negotiation are really good books for teens. One of my favorites is Never Split the Difference, by FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss. This book grabs the reader right away with exciting, high-stakes tales from real hostage situations the author was involved in, and it is packed with helpful tips.
But watch out, you might suddenly notice your teenager starting to label your emotions and use a Late Night FM DJ Voice when they negotiate their curfews and rules with you. Like many of the other good books for teens on this list, this is one I recommend for parents to read as well.
Another reason this book is included on my list of good books for teens is that when you give this book to your teen it communicates the importance of being able to stand up for yourself. Your teen needs to learn not just how to make their voice heard in the world but how to do so in a tactful way. Books like this one teach those important lessons in a fun and accessible format.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Chris Voss.
4. Learn Better
By Ulrich Boser
Books about learning are also really good books for teens because school and studying are such an important part of their lives. If your teen can learn something from this book that makes their studying even just 5% more efficient, it will really pay off over the next few years! Or if they can get just 5% better at remembering what they learn in class it would make a huge difference in how much they learn.
I chose Ulrich Boser’s book Learn Better for my list of good books for teens because it’s really practical and no-nonsense. He does a good job of explaining what the research shows on learning and which strategies don’t work. For instance, highlighting passages in the textbook is something many teens do but it doesn’t improve memory at all, according to a number of studies.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Ulrich Boser.
5. 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties
By Paul Angone
You might be wondering what a book about your twenties is doing on a list of good books for teens. Think about it this way: getting this book for your teenager is like giving them the answers to the test before the class even starts. The teenage brain is very concentrated on short-term goals, so any books that get your teen thinking about their future are good books for teens.
I think all of Paul Angone’s books, and especially this one, 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties, are really good books for teens. Paul is a writer and speaker who specifically focuses on the twenties and the big questions we should all be asking during this important decade of life.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Paul Angone.
6. How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds Or Less
By Nick Boothman
The desire to fit in and be liked is one of the strongest instincts during the teenage years. This is why books about social skills are such good books for teens. But Nick Boothman’s book How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less goes well beyond simple social skills. Boothman explores hidden and powerful psychological principles that cause other people to like you.
It’s a really fast read and your teen will love it because they will be learning helpful social strategies they can immediately apply in their own life. Boothman’s other books, like The Irresistible Power of StorySpeak and How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You in 90 Minutes or Less, are also good book for teens but I think this one is the best place to start.
Nick told me that it’s really easy to get teens reading his books. Teens are naturally drawn in since all of Boothman’s books are such good books for teens. He says all you have to do is leave them lying around the house and you’ll notice they have moved. You don’t even have to say anything about it!
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Nick Boothman.
7. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
By Amy Morin
It’s not as sexy as intelligence, but emotional resilience might actually be a better predictor of your teen’s future success and quality of relationships. Your teen needs to learn how to bounce back from hardship and manage fear and anxiety with strength. Amy Morin’s book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, is on my list of good books for teens because it teaches emotional resilience skills really well.
Amy had some really traumatic experiences in her life and had to deal with immense loss. Through it all, she learned some important lessons that we all can benefit from. Also, she’s a psychologist and she backs everything she says up with science. I think books that lead with facts and data are good books for teens since they tend to question everything they hear.
If you think books that empower and inspire the reader are good books for teens then you’ll like this one.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Amy Morin.
8. The Achievement Trap
By Brandilyn Tebo
This is a great book for teens, especially girls, who feel a lot of pressure to do things perfectly or to be everything all at once. The Achievement Trap is a bestselling book by retreat leader and life coach Brandilyn Tebo. This book will instill your teen with pure confidence and freedom of self-expression and any books that can do that are good books for teens.
Another reason I put this on my list of good books for teens is because Brandilyn discusses her struggles with eating disorders. The book isn’t specifically about body issues, but I think any books that deal with body image are good books for teens and this book discusses the topic in a really approachable way.
So if your teen seems to feel a lot of pressure to achieve, you might take a look at this book and the previous one on the list. The Achievement Trap and 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do are both good books for teens who feel anxiety and stress about how they are perceived by others.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Brandilyn Tebo.
9. When Likes Aren’t Enough
By Tim Bono
Tim Bono’s research shows that social media use is linked with unhappiness among adolescents. The more hours per day teenagers use their smartphones, the more unhappy they are. Bono wrote this book to show teens and young adults that there are scientifically-proven ways to improve their happiness and well-being. As you know, I think science-based books about highly relevant issues are really good books for teens so this book is a perfect choice.
Bono’s book, When Likes Aren’t Enough, is written in an easy and conversational style but he doesn’t talk down to the reader or overly simplify the research. He illustrates the points with fun anecdotes and examples from the real world. Good books for teens always have plenty of concrete examples.
“When am I ever going to use this” is the common refrain of teenagers about their classes at school. Teens want ideas that are useful and actionable. Well, that’s what they’ll get from this book. Every chapter is about a topic that is perfectly relevant to teenagers and I’ve found relevance is one of the key traits that distinguishes good books for teens. This book doesn’t disappoint there.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Tim Bono.
By Brandon Mull
If your main goal in looking for good books for teens is to get your teen doing more reading for fun, you might consider going with a fantasy book. Brandon Mull told me he’s found among older kids and teens the appeal for fantasy is incredibly strong. Part of it is that fantasy books often feature a young protagonist who has to overcome adult problems using their cunning and intelligence.
Another thing that makes fantasy books such good books for teens is that they usually come in a long series. So if you can get your teen hooked on the first book, they can just keep reading ahead and get more of the same characters and the same epic saga they loved reading about.
In particular, Fablehaven is a great place to start your teen off. It’s very well-written by Brandon and it features a teenage protagonist. Also, it’s the first book in a 10 book series, in case your teen gets hooked and wants to keep going. So it has both of the main aspects that make fantasy books such good books for teens.
BONUS: Click here to listen to my full interview with Brandon Mull.
Tips on Choosing Good Books for Teens
There are two main criteria I look for when trying to choose good books for teens. The first factor is relevance. If you want a teen to read something, it absolutely must be about a topic the teen finds relevant and important. This means if it’s a non-fiction book it should include content that is directly applicable to their lives right now. Or, if it’s a fiction book, it should have a teenage or young adult protagonist or it should deal with themes that are relevant and important to teenagers today.
The second thing I look for in good books for teens is readability. Teens don’t have long attention spans. To make matters worse, their cell phone is buzzing away in their pocket and notifications are popping up on their laptop screen while they try to read the book. Good books for teens need to be written in an engaging way that cuts through the distractions of a teen’s world and holds it’s own against everything else vying for the teen’s limited attention.
Don’t expect your teen to sit down and spend hours reading about something “interesting” or “historically important”. Sure, you might have a rare teen who values these things but in my experience these are not good books for teens. You need to stick with books that are both relevant and engaging. Make sure it has some facts the teenager can immediately use and apply in their life.
Good luck finding the perfect book for your teen!