Books I Recommend

Books make great gifts. Why? Because a carefully chosen book can literally change a life. Here ‘s a list of books I love for parents, 20somethings, and students ages 12 and up.

For Adults

The Power of Full Engagement
by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

In Episode 7 of my podcast, I recommend this book as one of the keys to achieving more while doing LESS. It provides parents great strategies to share with kids ages 12–26.

The Total Money Makeover
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 listening to The Dave Ramsey Show while you’re driving to work.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
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.

Sacred Rest
by Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith, MD

Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible
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 deep into it, and to pray audacious faith-filled prayers that “make the sun stand still.” This book has changed my life more than any other book on this list.

When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us
by Jane Adams, Ph.D.

(Well—you might not want to buy this book as a gift. But it’s a godsend if you need it yourself.)

This book is older, but counselors and therapists are still enthusiastically recommending it. Why? Because it’s still a goldmine of help for heartbroken parents who’d like some coaching and guidance on how to let go of their grown kids’ problems, love them anyway, and make the most of the post-parenting years they have left.

For Anyone Ages 17–29

Matter—And How to Make the Most of Them Now 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 hereThe Defining Decade is written for 20somethings, 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

How to Become a Straight-A Student 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.

How to Be A High School Superstar 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 teen’s physical, mental, and emotional health in a world that drives kids toward frantic, unnecessary extracurricular activity.

For College Students

How to Win at College 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.)

For Parents

Parenting Teens With Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood 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.”

How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

When you’re a worried parent, the last thing you need is a thick book full of dry parenting theory. This book is exactly the opposite of that. What you’ll find from page 1 is a story—of a group of parents who attend a parenting class for several weeks, sharing their struggles and successes along the way. The instructor for the parenting course passes out funny comics  to make her points, and you get to see them all. This book wins the prize as the parenting book I have highlighted, underlined, and starred the most.

And of course we can’t forget my book for parents!

LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward by Jeannie Burlowski

You can “Look Inside” LAUNCH on Amazon for free by going to:

You can see why financial planners and wealth managers love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

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.

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What about you?

What are your favorite books for parents, 20somethings, and students ages 12 and up? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Hi, I’m Jeannie Burlowski

I’m a full-time author, academic strategist, and speaker. My writing and speaking help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

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