Books make great gifts. Why? Because a carefully chosen book can literally change a life. In this short article I share the top 9 books I most love for parents, 20-somethings, and students ages 12 and up.
(Are you worried that your teen won’t read a non-fiction book? See my helpful article on How to Get a Teen to Read a Non-Fiction Book.)
By Dave Ramsey
On pages 26–28 of my book and in articles I’ve written here and here, I am emphatic that one of the best things parents can do for their kids is start the process of digging themselves out of debt as early as possible. Dave Ramsey will help, in a way that’s manageable for almost everyone. Get extra support by signing up for a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class near you here.
By Cal Newport
“Deep work” is the ability to focus without distraction on a demanding task. Deep work is a superpower. Master this skill, and you will achieve extraordinary results in less time—while experiencing the joy and fulfillment that comes from the innate human craving for craftsmanship. This book is helpful for older students, and for adults who engage in cognitively demanding work.
This book has had 30,000 top reviews since it was released in 2016.
(Any student or parent who’s taken my Strategic College Student class—provided for free inside my TRIBE Membership—might love this book.)
By Steven Furtick
If Christian faith is a part of your life’s story, in even a minor way, this book will inspire you to dive deeply into it, and to pray audacious faith-filled prayers that “make the sun stand still.”
Here’s a quote about this book, from author Steven Furtick himself:
“This book is not a Snuggie. The words on these pages will not go down like Ambien. I’m not writing to calm or coddle you. With God’s help, I intend to incite a riot in your mind. Trip your breakers & turn out the lights in your favorite hiding places of insecurity & fear. Then flip the switch back on so that (bold) truth can illuminate the divine destiny that may have been lying dormant inside you for years. I’m out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose & potential.”
This book has changed my life more than any other book on this list.
For Anyone Ages 17–29:
By licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay
You can see me raving about this book (and sharing some of my favorite quotes from it) in an article I wrote here. The Defining Decade is written for 20-somethings, but teens who read it when they’re 17, 18, or 19 get a jumpstart on the rest of their lives.
For Middle School and High School Students:
By Cal Newport
This thin, easy-to-read book contains “the unconventional strategies real college students use to score high while studying less.” The strategies in this book will help middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students—but middle schoolers may need to work through the strategies with a parent.
By Cal Newport
This book greatly relieves stress and pressure for teens, by advocating that they quit doing a hundred activities they don’t care about in hopes of impressing people they’ll never meet—and instead engage in “a revolutionary plan to stand out, without burning out.”
This book may be just what’s needed to restore your teens’ physical, mental, and emotional health as they gasp for air in a high-pressure college prep world that constantly drives them toward frantic, unnecessary extracurricular activity.
It’s a liberating read for kids who long for, as Newport says, “uncluttered, low-stress, and authentic lives.”
For College Students:
By Cal Newport
I know—this book has the most boring title ever. But believe me, it’s a goldmine of helpful info for college students, starting with chapter 1, “Don’t do all your reading.” A true and honest look at the strategies that really, actually help college students. (Written by an actual Dartmouth college student.)
By Foster Cline and Jim Fay
As a parent, you’d love to just quit the exhausting work of helicoptering and controlling your kids, but you worry, “Will they still turn out OK?” This book empowers parents with the skills necessary to set limits, teach important life skills, and encourage responsible decision-making in their teenagers, all without going crazy or damaging the parent/teen relationship. In chapter 3 of my book, I tell parents, “Don’t even try parenting teenagers without this book.”
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And of course we can’t forget my book for parents!
It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.
You can see hundreds of reviews of this book on Amazon by going to:
You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.
Subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter here. (You’ll especially want to do this so I can alert you to important FAFSA changes that will affect you in the future.)
Do you have very specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?
My TRIBE Members get the most direct access to me—while feeling good that the pennies per day they spend on the TRIBE help me bring debt-free college strategy to families who could never afford to pay for it. Join my TRIBE Membership waiting list here.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.
This article was updated on November 10th, 2023. No part of this article was written using AI.