Author Topic: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?  (Read 1278 times)

msbutterbean

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Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« on: December 05, 2020, 10:00:39 AM »
I have a sharp, academically successful, people-pleasing teen who spends a lot of time thinking about her future. Her friends group is full of similar personalities, and we're in a school district with a fair amount of very wealthy families and high-achieving professional parents. There's a lot of tutoring and testing and emphasis on getting into the "right" college and choosing a lucrative career.

I will support her 100% if she chooses that path, but she's already started talking as if shell have to choose success over the things that actually interest her. I do what I can to counter this thinking, but I'd like to get her more exposure to other narratives.

Any auto/biographies you'd recommend? I think she'd be engaged more by storytelling and less a how-to structure.

Thanks ☺

mozar

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2020, 10:06:57 AM »

Adventine

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2020, 10:38:41 AM »
Well, since you asked for off the beaten path books... "Bullshit Jobs" by David Graeber may open your teen's eyes to a different way of looking at high prestige VS low prestige jobs.

utaca

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2020, 10:46:19 AM »
I was in a similar situation as your daughter before discovering punk rock, William S Burroughs and the beats (as well as various mind altering substances) as a teenager - not sure I'd endorse that path for your daughter (!) but my "radical"/off-the-beaten path suggestion would be to simply introduce her to perspectives on the world through literature so she can understand that her specific milieu is not the the only way to live.

Alternately, you could find her books about people that have made a go of it in her areas of interest.

Finally, as we all know on this forum, conventional "success" is often a mirage, with miserable people hiding behind mountains of debt funding purchases they don't need in order to project an appearance of happiness and success. Mediation and mindfulness are one way to recognize the inherent falsity of this mirage and to focus more on being present in the here and now rather than worrying about the future. I would suggest the books of Thich Nhat Hanh as a good starting point for learning to be more mindful.

bacchi

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2020, 11:13:30 AM »
Finally, as we all know on this forum, conventional "success" is often a mirage, with miserable people hiding behind mountains of debt funding purchases they don't need in order to project an appearance of happiness and success. Mediation and mindfulness are one way to recognize the inherent falsity of this mirage and to focus more on being present in the here and now rather than worrying about the future. I would suggest the books of Thich Nhat Hanh as a good starting point for learning to be more mindful.

That's a very insightful and helpful paragraph.

bbqbonelesswing

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2020, 11:15:28 AM »
I will support her 100% if she chooses that path, but she's already started talking as if shell have to choose success over the things that actually interest her. I do what I can to counter this thinking, but I'd like to get her more exposure to other narratives.

Well, what are those things that interest her?

draco44

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2020, 11:44:46 AM »
Might I suggest "What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question" by Po Bronson?
https://www.amazon.com/What-Should-Do-My-Life/dp/0345485920

It's a collection of life stories from people reflecting on the big choices they made in life, rather than a how-to manual type self-book book as the title might suggest. I read it a long time ago but still remember (1) the cautionary tale of a bright lady who made it all the way through medical school then realized she hated her chosen field and (2) a happier story about a Native American guy who got a bunch of degrees even though it was unusual for his peer group, then returned to his reservation and used his new business and legal knowledge to improve his tribe's financial stability and negotiation skills when dealing with outsiders.

Imma

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2020, 03:23:42 PM »
I was in a similar situation as your daughter before discovering punk rock, William S Burroughs and the beats (as well as various mind altering substances) as a teenager - not sure I'd endorse that path for your daughter (!) but my "radical"/off-the-beaten path suggestion would be to simply introduce her to perspectives on the world through literature so she can understand that her specific milieu is not the the only way to live.

Alternately, you could find her books about people that have made a go of it in her areas of interest.

Finally, as we all know on this forum, conventional "success" is often a mirage, with miserable people hiding behind mountains of debt funding purchases they don't need in order to project an appearance of happiness and success. Mediation and mindfulness are one way to recognize the inherent falsity of this mirage and to focus more on being present in the here and now rather than worrying about the future. I would suggest the books of Thich Nhat Hanh as a good starting point for learning to be more mindful.

Punk is actually a good breeding ground for mustachianism! A lot of my friends wouldn't dream of reading a blog about money but their attitudes totally align with MMM.

yakamashii

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2020, 05:45:01 PM »
Working by Studs Terkel

Seconding books by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Books that address "people-pleasing" . . .

Dicey

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2020, 06:17:21 PM »
Might I suggest "What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question" by Po Bronson?
https://www.amazon.com/What-Should-Do-My-Life/dp/0345485920

It's a collection of life stories from people reflecting on the big choices they made in life, rather than a how-to manual type self-book book as the title might suggest. I read it a long time ago but still remember (1) the cautionary tale of a bright lady who made it all the way through medical school then realized she hated her chosen field and (2) a happier story about a Native American guy who got a bunch of degrees even though it was unusual for his peer group, then returned to his reservation and used his new business and legal knowledge to improve his tribe's financial stability and negotiation skills when dealing with outsiders.
The audio book is a fun listen!

lhamo

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2020, 06:19:33 PM »
My DS ended up following a pretty conventional path, but at one point  it appeared he might not and my sister got him this book (with my blessing) to encourage him to consider alternative paths to/definitions of "success":

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADMZKNM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

The Simple Path to Wealth and Your Money or Your Life are also good foundational texts.

Morning Glory

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2020, 07:14:40 PM »
Oh, she's better off than I was. I was smart but angsty and misanthropic to the extreme. I would say whatever I thought would shock people the most, and I only did well in subjects I liked. Didn't discover punk rock until I was almost 30 (Rise Against is my favorite), maybe that was my problem. Let her decide what to read.

Sibley

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2020, 07:51:44 PM »
I'd say the people pleasing is the biggest factor here. It's frequently a trait that gets people into unhappy situations.

AMandM

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2020, 11:05:29 PM »
she's already started talking as if shell have to choose success over the things that actually interest her.

I was/am a people pleaser who went to grad school for years before realizing that I didn't want the kind of career a PhD fits you for. I was very good at school and everyone there encouraged me to go as far as possible (with the best of intentions, no doubt) because I was a woman in engineering. What helped me get off the track was learning about and meeting people doing what I wanted to. So I would concentrate on helping her identify and pursue her real interests. Simultaneously, I would try to help her think about whether her interests can be parlayed in to a living wage. If not, how would she rather support herself? There are lots of possibilities, from a job adjacent to her interests to a high-paying job that funds the interests and leads to FIRE, to a low-hours job that leaves lots of time for the interests.

Here are a couple of books about people doing off the beaten path things:
Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School Tell Their Own Stories ed. Grace Llewellyn
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende (he was a grad student at MIT and then went to live for a year in an Amish-type community)



Janie

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2020, 09:27:48 AM »
Designing Your Life. It's based on the Stanford class of the same name.

Dicey

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2020, 11:00:06 AM »
she's already started talking as if shell have to choose success over the things that actually interest her.

I was/am a people pleaser who went to grad school for years before realizing that I didn't want the kind of career a PhD fits you for. I was very good at school and everyone there encouraged me to go as far as possible (with the best of intentions, no doubt) because I was a woman in engineering. What helped me get off the track was learning about and meeting people doing what I wanted to. So I would concentrate on helping her identify and pursue her real interests. Simultaneously, I would try to help her think about whether her interests can be parlayed in to a living wage. If not, how would she rather support herself? There are lots of possibilities, from a job adjacent to her interests to a high-paying job that funds the interests and leads to FIRE, to a low-hours job that leaves lots of time for the interests.

Here are a couple of books about people doing off the beaten path things:
Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School Tell Their Own Stories ed. Grace Llewellyn
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende (he was a grad student at MIT and then went to live for a year in an Amish-type community)
I loved Better Off!

Mr. Green

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2020, 11:47:27 AM »
Edit: I should caveat my comment by saying the test is focused on science subjects. If your daughter is considering something outside of that, this test won't be very rewarding.


This is somewhat off-topic but I would recommend her taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB). It is a phenomenally comprehensive test, covering more than just reading/writing/math like the SAT or ACT. Things like engineering, electrical, mechanical principals, etc. When I took it I was asked questions in fields I knew almost nothing about, or fields I'd only had exposure to from whatever I'd learned from parents, etc.

You don't have to be going into the armed services to take it, and more than anything, it was the only test I took in high school that really made me think there could be something else besides college-y concepts of reading/writing/math. It made me think about those other fields and whether I might have an interest in them, and it also gave me scores on how well I did on subjects that maybe I'd only had a passing knowledge of.

It was by far the coolest test I took, and I can't recommend it highly enough as a vehicle that might help stimulate thoughts about one's future.

This link shows the subjects the test covers.
https://www.officialasvab.com/applicants/what-to-expect/
« Last Edit: December 06, 2020, 11:56:37 AM by Mr. Green »

Greystache

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2020, 08:07:00 AM »
I second what Mr. Green said about aptitude testing. When I was a senior in high school, our school counselor was big on testing. I took several personality and aptitude tests. One of them had a summary of results that told me "you are more suited to working with things than with people".  I wish I had paid more attention to that. Every time I resisted my nature and tried to work with people, I was miserable, even when I was successful. I kept coming back to that statement from long ago and re-learning what I should have already known.  Once I gave up on resisting my true nature and went down the purely technical career path, I was much happier.
So by all means, take the tests, learn about what really makes you tick and then apply it in your life.

lazycow

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2020, 04:11:56 PM »
How to be Idle
How to be free  (I think it is called The Freedom.Manifesto in the US)
Both by Tom Hodgkinson

Loved the Po Bronson book!

Sailor Sam

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2020, 06:33:46 PM »
I really enjoyed Walden On Wheels, by Ken Ilguans.

I wonít claim itís revolutionary, but itís a fast, engaging read about a guy who chose a different path, and still found his way to a Masters degree. Teenagers donít necessarily need revolutionary, anyway. They just need the engaging part.

charis

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Re: Off-the-beaten-path books for high-achieving teen?
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2020, 09:56:12 PM »
Try introducing her to other groups of people who are non wealthy, high achieving professionals, if you can. My high school life was that environment and while I am doing well professionally, I can finally see the ways that it did me a disservice. Teens don't absorb these lessons from books, they do it by living.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 09:59:25 PM by charis »