A tribe of Indians in Mexico who routinely run up to 200 miles wearing homemade sandals–and they do it because they love it. It's a good reminder for students that you can accomplish some pretty incredible things when you love what you're doing.
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
For counselors, it's a great book about how to run a better business (or department) and get more work done in less time.
I don't agree with the central message of the book that any student can somehow follow a program that leads them to greatness (as evidenced by his examples, superstar students become that way by not following a formula, but by pursuing their real interests). Still, pages 51-76 about study habits and time-management should be required reading for all high school students.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
I'm a Seth Godin fan and I admit that I was a little disappointed after my first read of this. His discussion of the lizard brain in all of us and how it rises up to sabotage us felt a little too much like it belonged in the "Self-Help" section of the bookstore. But it stayed with me enough that I've since read it again and I think that if you can hang in there through the lizard discussion, the central message of the book is a crucial one–you don't need anyone's permission to do great work and make something happen. If you're not doing it, what are you waiting for?
Another Seth Godin book I'd recommend to any business owner. The internet has changed not only what people buy, but also how they buy them (remember when people used to pay a travel agent to find good travel deals?). And yet a lot of business are trying to sell the same old stuff using the newest marketing. That's a meatball Sundae. You don't just need new marketing–you need new stuff.
Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond
Marilee Jones and Kenneth R. Ginsburg
While the first half of the book offers up sound, practical advice for parents from a former Dean of Admissions at MIT, the second half is complex discussion by a psychologist that read too much like a textbook to me. Still, I'd recommend (the first half of) the book to parents.
Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
Zac Bissonnette and Andrew Tobias
A must read for the cost-conscious college shopper. It's also got the best, most thorough critique of the US News college rankings I've ever read.
Zappos founder Tony Hsieh is a pretty fascinating guy. He's a serial entrepreneur who's been starting businesses since he was in elementary school, and this is his story of how he built Zappos, what the company stands for, and how they've managed to revolutionize selling goods on the internet.
Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Chip Heath and Dan Heath
After I read this book, I had to go back and re-write all my seminar descriptions and rethink how I present information in talks.
To make my list all about business and college admissions would be a) taking myself too seriously and b) not entirely representative of what I read.
Steven Adler is the former drummer from Guns and Roses. There is not a single productive takeaway for students, parents or counselors (other than, well, don't do heroin)–this one is all trash. But reading books like this is the closest I'll ever get to being a rock star. I read Slash's autobiography, too.
And while I'm at it, I've also got a subscription to People Magazine.