The best books to help you (and your teen) understand their mind (and yours)

Nicola Morgan Author Of Blame My Brain: Amazing Teenage Brain
By Nicola Morgan

Who am I?

I'm known as the Teenage Brain Woman but, frankly, any brain will do! I'm so interested in that 1.5kg lump of stuff between our ears that I've spent 25 years studying it, taking in neuroscience, psychology, and counseling. As a child, I was fascinated by how things work. I took things to pieces and (sometimes) put them back together. If you know how something works you can make it work better and mend it when it doesn’t. Human brains are just things. The more we understand our own, the better we can make it work. My life now involves sharing that understanding with anyone who’ll listen. Our brains are in our hands.

I wrote...

Blame My Brain: Amazing Teenage Brain

By Nicola Morgan,

Book cover of Blame My Brain: Amazing Teenage Brain

What is my book about?

Teenagers are not the lazy, rude, and disorganised people the media portrays them as. And any behaviours you do notice have fascinating explanations in neuroscience and psychology. During the teenage years the brain undergoes radical and fundamental changes. My carefully researched, accessible, and empathetic examination of the ups and downs of the teenage brain deals with powerful emotions, sleep, risk-taking, sex and gender, the lure and effects of screens and social media, and the reasons behind addiction or depression.

For 2023, a brand-new edition brings the research bang up to date and adds material concerning the social brain, distraction, and impulsivity, as well as the role of sex and gender differences. Read and understand; you’ll be reassured, empowered, and inspired.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success

Why did I love this book?

If you’ve ever heard that the “marshmallow research” shows that the ability to delay gratification aged 3 determines your life success and skills later, this book will put you right! It is far more positive, interesting and practical than that and you need to read the whole book, not just the headlines. There are techniques you can put into practice to improve your (and your family’s) habits in relation to pretty much anything. I use it to help develop healthy screen-time behaviours – for myself, too! And I refer to it regularly when giving talks and training to teachers and parents.  

By Walter Mischel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Marshmallow Test as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. What will she do? And what are the implications for her behaviour later in life?

Walter Mischel's now iconic 'marshmallow test,' one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, proved that the ability to delay gratification is critical to living a successful and fulfilling life: self-control not only predicts higher marks in school, better social and cognitive functioning, and a greater sense of self-worth; it also helps us manage stress, pursue goals more effectively, and cope…

Book cover of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Why did I love this book?

If you want to change and improve your habits – whether dealing with existing bad habits relating to alcohol, chocolate, or screen time (I’m looking at myself…) or understanding and improving your behaviour with exercise or work/life balance (still looking at me) – I recommend starting with The Marshmallow Effect and then following immediately with The Power of Habit. The very worst that can happen is that your bad habits continue but you understand why! But much more likely is that you gain insights that will change your life for the better. It’s a perfect blend of science, common sense, and practical application.

By Charles Duhigg,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Power of Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This instant classic explores how we can change our lives by changing our habits.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • Financial Times

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporterCharles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents…

Book cover of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids

Why did I love this book?

When I do in-service training in schools – or talks for parents – easily the thing the audience most commonly and keenly asks about in the Q&A relates to what I’ve said about introverts and their experience in school. Despite this, although I do discuss it in several of my books, I haven’t written a book about it, for one good reason: Quiet Power is all you need! Susan Cain also wrote a book called Quiet but Quiet Power is the one I recommend specifically to parents, teachers, and young people themselves because it is written with young people specifically in mind and contains tips for teachers and students. Introverts are poorly served in most schools but with proper understanding (including by themselves) they – I mean “we”, as I’m strongly introverted myself – could thrive better. We do not need to change the environment to suit one group of people – there is room for everyone to shine, with a few simple strategies and some deep understanding. 

By Susan Cain,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Quiet Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Quiet Power is a brilliant handbook for quiet children (and their parents). It is a celebration of the introvert" - Guardian

Your child's teenage years is a time wrought with insecurity and self-doubt. Their search for a place in the world can seem daunting. Focusing on the strengths and challenges of being introverted, Quiet Power is full of examples from school, family life and friendship, applying the breakthrough discoveries of Quiet to teenagers that so badly need them.

This insightful, accessible and empowering book is eye-opening to extroverts and introverts alike. Unlock your teenager's hidden superpower and give them the…

Book cover of Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential

Why did I love this book?

Most teachers will know this book and most schools either explicitly or implicitly teach growth mindset to students. So it would be helpful for parents to have this insight, too. But you might have heard growth mindset being “disproved” – that is not true! Some people had taken the conclusions too far and made too many claims or misunderstood, but if you actually read Dweck’s work in this book you’ll see what she actually said. It is quite a densely-written book, which is possibly why some people have skimmed it and reached certain conclusions. What you could do is a) take my word for it that the research is strong and meaningful and b) read the “grow your mindset” tips at the end of each chapter. Or settle down and read it all! 

By Carol S. Dweck,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset.

Dweck explains why it's not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn't foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers,…

Book cover of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Why did I love this book?

For my recommendation, it was a choice between this and How We Learn by Benedict Carey but I had to choose The Organized Mind because I had so many page markers stuck in it! Yes, this is a book I’ve referred to over and over again because it reveals so much about how our busy minds work and why when they get too busy they don’t work so well. I think for most people nowadays, especially students, parents, and teachers, recognizing, understanding, and dealing with “brain bandwidth” overload is fascinating, revealing, and empowering. For me this book was transformative. It got me into the whole science of brain bandwidth, which is now one of the most popular parts of my talks for parents and teachers. Once you know about it you’ll spot examples of it in action many times a day!

By Daniel J Levitin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Organized Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Organized Mind, New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin offers practical solutions to the problems of information overload.

Overwhelmed by demands on your time? Caught in an unproductive spiral of emails and multitasking?

You're not alone. When we're deluged with information our creativity plummets, our decision making suffers and we grow absent-minded. Nowadays, we drown in our inboxes, forever juggle several tasks at once and try to make complex decisions ever more quickly. This is information overload.

Combining the latest neuroscience with everyday examples, Daniel Levitin explains how to take back control…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraversion and introversion, order and clutter, and mindset?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraversion and introversion, order and clutter, and mindset.

Extraversion And Introversion Explore 23 books about extraversion and introversion
Order And Clutter Explore 14 books about order and clutter
Mindset Explore 9 books about mindset