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This is an online resource for the book The Teenager's Guide to the Real World by Marshall Brain, ISBN 1-9657430-3-9. The online resources are offered as a free supplement to the book. They help you access the huge library of material for teenager's available on the Web. For more information on the book please click here.

Great Books for Teenagers

If you are trying to understand yourself and the world around you as a teenager, one of the best things you can do is read. You can learn a tremendous amount from the lives, experiences and advice of others. You will gain different perspectives on the world and the people in it. You will find that to nearly every problem there is a solution. You will also discover that you are not alone.

The following list shows you 25 great books to read as a teenager. There are three places for you to get copies of these books:

  1. Try your school or local library. This is usually the best approach because at the library the books are free and you will often find other related books as you look for the books listed below.
  2. Purchase the books on-line. This page has been produced in association with, an Internet bookstore. Each title links to an appropriate page at where you can order the book immediately.
  3. Go to a local bookstore.
If you have other books you have enjoyed or found helpful as a teenager, please send your suggestions to

Books about Relationships

Biographies and Autobiographies

    If you want to be successful, one of the best things you can do as a teenager is read about the lives of successful people. You will discover that successful people are normal people who simply never give up. One of the most interesting things you will discover is that successful people often have rather spectacular failures in their past. For example, Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels) lost his first hotel chain. Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) lost his first store. By reading these books and other books like them, you learn about these failures and see how people bounce back.

    Dave's Way by R. David Thomas

      Written by the founder of Wendy's restaurants, this is a fantastic book for teenagers. Dave Thomas tells his story in down-to-earth language and you will be amazed at his life. He talks about starting work at age 12 and what he did during his teen years to learn his way in the world. The book contains countless simple tips on how to be successful in today's business environment, but more importantly shows you how to take a dream and make it a reality.

    All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

      This is a book full of incredibly good autobiographical stories by a small-town country vet in England right after he gets out of college. You will learn a tremendous amount about animals and veterinary medicine, as well as about people and yourself.

    Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton

      Conrad Hilton is the founder of the massive Hilton Hotel chain, one of the largest and most prestigious hotel chains in the world. He started out as a boy in the absolute middle of nowhere helping his father run a store. This autobiographical book describes the steps he took as he changed from a boy into a world-famous hotelier. [This book can often be found in the nightstand at Hilton Hotels around the world.]

    Iacocca, an Autobiography by Lee Iacocca and William Novak

      This autobiographical book by Lee Iacocca was written at the height of his fame and power. You will learn about the transformations that made him great.

    Sam Walton : Made in America : My Story by Sam Walton, John Huey
    The Sam Walton Story by Austin Teutsch

      Sam Walton started the Wal-Mart chain from nothing. These books trace his life from boyhood through his first store and then through his rise to the richest man in the United States.

    The Road Ahead by Bill Gates

      The majority of this book is about technology and technological change, but much of the beginning of the book is an autobiographical account of Bill Gates' teen years. You will learn that he was a normal teenager in high school no different from you, and yet he built one of the most successful companies in the world and defined an entire industry.

    The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

      This book offers a biographical account of the life of the artist Michelangelo starting in his teen years.

When Things Don't Seem to Be Working

    When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
      This book talks about life's saddest moments and shows you how to survive them.

    When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough by Harold S. Kushner

      This book discusses the meaning of life and how you can find it.

    Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

      This book is powerful both because of the true story it tells (of a boy in his early 20s who starves to death in Alaska) as well as the author's personal perspective. It is a "must read" book for any teen fighting it out with his or her parents and not understanding why. To quote the author, "Two decades after the fact I discovered that my rage was gone, and had been for years. It had been supplanted by a rueful sympathy and something not unlike affection. I came to understand that I had baffled and infuriated my father at least as much as he had baffled and infuriated me. I saw that I had been selfish and unbending and a giant pain in the ass. He'd build a bridge of privilege for me, a hand-pave trestle to the good life, and I repaid him by chopping it down and crapping on the wreckage." What is amazing is that the book helps you understand how the author came to that point of understanding.

    Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul : 101 Stories of Life, Love and Learning by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Kimberly Kirberger

      This book is a collection of stories about the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. As one teenager who wrote to us via email expressed it, "It shows us that there are people who have the same feelings and experiences and how they deal with them. This book will make you look at parts of life in a new way."

    Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

      Written by a survivor of the Holocaust, this book defines what it means to be human and alive.

    Times Square Rabbi : Finding the Hope in Lost Kids' Lives by Yehudah Fine

      A poignant, personal and facinating book written by a man who has dedicated his life to helping lost teens living on the street in New York City. This book shows how crisis can produce profound transformation, no matter how low you have fallen. It will show you how bad things can get, and that there is always a way out.

    Life Happens by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibblesman

      This book is written for teenagers and helps you to understand the crises and problems that often accompany the teen years.

    The Bible
    The 13 Most Important Bible Lessons for Teenagers

      There is probably a copy of the Bible laying around the house somewhere...

    The Road Less Traveled, A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck
    Further Along the Road Less Traveled : The Unending Journey Toward Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck

      The orginal book opens with the sentence, "Life is Difficult." and moves from there. It is now out of print but can be found at almost any library. The new book continues the story.


    The Teenager's Guide to the Real World by Marshall Brain
      "The Teenager's Guide to the Real World" starts from the central reality that teenagers get to design their own lives. Many of the choices that teenagers make as teenagers will affect them for the rest of their lives. This book is helps teenagers see the amazing freedom they have to control their lives and their destinies, and to then help them make good decisions about the future. After reading this book teenagers understand a great deal more about themselves and the world around them. They are able to think about their choices with a new clarity and understanding, and are therefore able to begin planning a path toward success.

    A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech

      An incredibly good and easy-reading book on the whys and hows of creativity. You will see how the search for creative solutions to problems is often the single difference between success and failure.

    Seeds of Greatness by Dennis Waitley

      Now out of print but easily found in any library, this book describes the ten attributes of all successful individuals in a light, easy-to-read style. The book is loaded with real-life examples. It is an unbelievably important book to read as a teenager.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People : Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

      This book talks about habits that help lead to personal fulfillment and professional success.

    How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

      This classic book was written back in the 1920's and is still important today. Tens of millions of copies have been sold. The title tells you exactly what the book is about.

Books on Money, Business and Jobs

Interesting books

    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
      If you have ever wanted to learn how to draw, this book uses extremely simple examples that truly teach you how. This book also offers a great introduction to how your brain works based on the most recent scientific research into left-brain/right-brain differences. It is a fascinating lesson in how to use the different parts of your mind effectively.

    A Simple Path by Mother Teresa

      This book explores a different, but very interesting, path to happiness and enlightenment. It also gives you another way to look at the world and the people around you.

    Industrial Light & Magic by Thomas G. Smith

      This book is pricey so you will want to find it at the library, but it is a great book to read if you like the special effects in movies like Star Wars and ET. The book also offers a collection of biographical sketches that show how many of the most important people at ILM came to be a part of the company. Many of these sketches show the steps these people took as teenagers to find their way to ILM.

    The Americans: The Democratic Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin
    The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin

      Boorstin is a historian. He tells great stories about the people who made our country and our world great. In The Americans he describes many of the people and trends that led to the U.S. as we know it--the invention of grocery stores, canned goods, urban areas, commercialism and so on. A fascinating account of how the U.S. became what it is today.

    The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal by Desmond Morris

      This book is written by a zoologist and studies the human animal like a zoologist would study any other animal. It therefore offers a completely different look at what it means to be human.

Academic Books

    Talented Teenagers, The Roots of Success and Failure by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Kevin Rathunde and Samuel Whalen
      A very interesting study in why teenagers succeed and fail in modern society.

    Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers by Michael Riera

      This book is a book for parents on parent-teenager relationships. However, it is laced throughout with stories and quotes from teenagers on the teen perspective. Both parents and teenagers can learn a lot by reading this book.

    What do our 17-Year-Olds Know? by Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn Jr.

      A comprehensive study in what high school students know and do not know.

    Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

      A very interesting study in what everyone in our culture should know in order to be considered "literate."

If you have other books you have enjoyed or found helpful as a teenager, please send your suggestions to

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