Empowering Books I Read or Wish I’d Read When I Was a Teen


There are so many books that I’ve read that really made a difference in my life, and I sometimes think to myself, “If only’ I’d read this when I was a teenager!” It is never too early, or too late, to learn more about yourself and what kind of life you want to create for yourself. The moment is NOW, so here are some books I’d recommend to teens who wish to create positive lifestyles and perspectives for themselves. This is for those who wish to create quality relationships with themselves and the world around them. Some of the books would be considered “self help” types, others are classics, mystical & fantasy adventures, and some are newer popular fiction. I consulted many friends and teens about what books had a strong positive impact on their lives.

I am convinced that if I had read some of these books in middle & high school, my school days would have been a bit easier, or enjoyable. Dealing with adults, peers, criticism, gossip, obligations, conflicts, etc. would have been a little easier. Why? Because these books are empowering, and offer solutions and tools for living a happier life, and not letting the world around you bring you down. These books offer guidance for how to be your own source of encouragement, love, and support, and how to form quality relationships with others. Some also offer an entertaining escape from “reality,” with complex and relatable characters, and often a gripping adventure.

In no particular order, here are just some of the books that made a positive difference in my life, or the lives of others, that I read or wish I’d read as a teen. This list could probably go on forever, and I’m sure you have more that could be added, but I think this is a good start. I attempted to categorize them, but some of them could move around categories:


Best of “Self Improvement” & living life in a positive way, tools for handling just about anything:

If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules by Cherie Carter-Scott

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

I Need Your Love, Is That True? By Byron Katie

The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Ask and it is Given by Esther & Jerry Hicks

Achieve Anything in Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams & Accomplish Your Goals by Jason Harvey

Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions & Hobbies to Create the Life & Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher


Art & Creativity

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

How to Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real


Knowing the Female Body & Lifelong Wisdom for Reproductive Health

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, & Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler


Positive & Empowering Poetry

Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Independence & Everything Else (A Poetry Speaks Experience, collection of many poets + CD) by Elise Paschen & Dominique Raccah

Journey Through Heartsongs by Mattie Stepaneck

Always Follow Your Dreams: A Collection of Poems to Inspire & Encourage Your Dreams by Collin McCarty, Nancye Sims, Iaine Parsons & 8 More


Inspirational Nonfiction about Overcoming the Impossible, Everyday Hero

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family & Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton, Rick Bundschuh & Sheryl Berk


Inspirational Fiction, Progressive, Spiritual Journey, Life Wisdom, Classics, Adventure

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

The Giver trilogy by Lois Lowry

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (historical, amazing gripping story)

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man & the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (a more “modern” and maybe easier-to-read version of Catcher in the Rye)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

When Women Were Warriors (I, II & III) by Catherine M. Wilson

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Divergent series by Veronica Roth


Inspirational & Fun Fiction

Wise Child by Monica Furlong

Juniper by Monica Furlong

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Elissa’s Quest, Phoeniz Rising Trilogy by Erica Verrillo

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Harry Potter series

Percy Jackson series

Alanna series by Tamora Pierce

Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee

Discworld series by Terry Pratchett