book suggestion for 16 year old female
October 9, 2007 11:08 PM   Subscribe

Suggest a book for a female turning 16 with attention whore syndrome.

She likes attention, good or bad. I think her craving of attention may stem from her broken home and a lack of self esteem. I would like to give a book that will show her how to be confident and humble not conceded and narcissistic.
posted by h2 to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Truth be told, I don't think there is such a book... Almost all 16-year-old girls are essentially attention whores (it's part of normal development and most of us DO grow out of it)... Even if there were such a book, no 16-year-old girl who is in the attention-whore phase is going to recognize herself in it, nor is she going to glean any helpful information from it... In other words, an epiphany of "Oh, I'm an attention whore and I need to change my worldview!" is not going to come from a book. She'll eventually just grow out of it, like most of us do (hopefully).
posted by amyms at 11:21 PM on October 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

That being said, a good role model can sometimes help (a caring aunt, older friend, mentor, etc.)
posted by amyms at 11:22 PM on October 9, 2007

Valley of the Dolls
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 11:26 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ayn Rand
posted by moift at 11:48 PM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

This will most certainly backfire, like the warning labels on cigarette packages or the "just say no to drugs" campaign.

Give her the attention she craves, but give it in a patient, caring and non-judgemental way. It may take a while, but hopefully in time she will learn to differentiate between sincere attention she receives from you and the shallow attention her antics earn her.
posted by randomstriker at 11:55 PM on October 9, 2007

Its a religious book, of course, but it is the bestselling nonfiction hardback book in history (or so it claims) - The Purpose Driven Life.

First sentence of the book: "Its not about you."
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:39 AM on October 10, 2007

He's Just Not That Into You
posted by clearly at 2:08 AM on October 10, 2007

that book doesn't exist. better to be a good role model and call her on her behavior. if her parents can't parent her, someone has to.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:57 AM on October 10, 2007

There's no guarantee that she'd read this magical book, even if you did manage to find such a thing.

Most sixteen year olds have attention whore syndrome. A broken home may be amplifying it in this particular girl, but it's also a common side effect of the teenage drive to figure out just who the heck they are. Be a good role model to her (or set her up so that she can interact with one) and treat her with respect, not scorn.

You seem to recognize that her home life is a source of at least some of her problems; I'd focus on doing what I can to mitigate those effects if it were me.

and if a person is self-absorbed, they're "conceited;" "conceded" is the past tense of "concede," which is to acknowledge something.
posted by AV at 4:30 AM on October 10, 2007

Yeah, teens are dangerous stuff. As crazy as it sounds, does anyone have a favorite book on cognitive psychology or developmental psych that would be to a teen's level? It fascinating to lots of people, then one days say to her "you see how Ericson's life stage X applies to you, right?" She'll go "NO WAY" then maybe think about it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:55 AM on October 10, 2007

As addendum, maybe it would be better to say "See how it applies to friend-who-is-very-similar-to-you?" and she'll go "WAY, HILARIOUS" and think about it. Weeks later say "Does it apply to you?" and she'll still say "NO WAY" but maybe be more willing to think about it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:57 AM on October 10, 2007

Try some pop psychology like Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths that Shape Women's Lives. Books like this appeal to our narcissistic impulses ("Which goddess am I?"), but they can also be a starting point for genuine self-reflection.
posted by junkbox at 5:55 AM on October 10, 2007

She may be an attention whore, but she's probably not dumb, and she'll see right through any such book you give her. Gifts meant as criticisms of the recipient are never appreciated. I was younger than she is when I was pointedly given a Book of Virtues for Christmas (yeah, the one compiled by William Bennett, Mr. Virtue himself) and in response, pointedly displayed it as a doorstop.

Instead, buy her something you think she'll really, really like (book or otherwise) with no hidden agenda. Challenge the attention problem separately, by modeling the behavior you want to see, praising it in others, and praising it in her when she displays it in even minor ways. You'll make your point and retain her respect.
posted by Drop Daedalus at 6:14 AM on October 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

One year for Christmas an admirer of my mother gave my teenage sister and I books as gifts. I got a book of compiled articles from the Onion (funny, but I'd seen most of them the first time around). Kelly, on the other hand, got a book by Doctor Phil.

Rather than cultivate interests and ideas, find out what her interests are; yes, there ARE some below surface-level, and they are the golden keys to her future personality.

And learn by observing, not by asking. Teenage girls are virtuosos at trying to perceive what is expected of them and falsely playing along. She wants to please you, and will present whatever facade of interest she thinks is expected of her-- and then once you leave the room, her life will proceed as it really is, as SHE really is. Watch, learn, listen, and then only move forward bearing gifts and counsel when you really have what she needs.
posted by hermitosis at 6:37 AM on October 10, 2007

goddamit. just deleted my thoughtfully written post. in short, here are a few good books for 16-year-old girls that i do not claim will change any personalities. they are just good books and good books are always a favorite of mine to give as a present:

and now you can go, vendela vida
wonder when you'll miss me, amanda davis
the invisible circus, jennifer egan

i would recommend anything by francesca lia block, but she'd likely encourage, well not attention whore, but definitely drama queen behavior. but more freaky weirdo drama queen, which is possibly something to encourage?
posted by apostrophe at 6:51 AM on October 10, 2007

A book I really enjoyed in my teen years was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The four sisters in the book, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, had four very different personality types. There's something to relate to and think about in all four of the main characters.

A set of books she might really enjoy is the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. I don't know if it has the kind of moral instruction you're looking for, but they're just really great books that I think any teenager would enjoy. The first one is called The Golden Compass.
posted by spacewaitress at 6:58 AM on October 10, 2007

Please never call a 16-year-old girl _any_ kind of whore. She may act like it doesn't bother her, and you may not mean to demean her, but it is an awful word to have associated with any young girl, no matter how jaded.
posted by amtho at 7:00 AM on October 10, 2007 [4 favorites]

I'm not female and I didn't have a big attention problem but boy do I wish I had Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks when I was a teenager.
posted by samh23 at 8:14 AM on October 10, 2007

I second never calling a teenager derogatory names even in jest. While words are indeed powerful, I don't know of any books that would speak to her as well as the story of someones life told through a relationship. Hurting kids desire true relationships with adults. While on the surface it may not appear so, it takes time to earn their trust and to get past their protective layers. If she is from a broken home, then there are more layers of self-defense to get past.

While these are not books that I would recommend for her, if you want to learn more about how to understand teenagers better:

Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture) by Chap Clark
Hear My Story: Understanding the Cries of Troubled Youth by Dean Borgman
The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids by Barbara Strauch

Also, a good book that discusses the historical development of postmodernism might help. I highly recommend this book because it tells of the foundational issues rather than over-simplified solutions:
Christian Witness in a Postmodern World by Harry Lee Poe
posted by peripatew at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2007

I would second Francesca Lia Block. . The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson would be another good one. His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman) might be a bit young but absolutely worth reading (I love it as an adult, but went through a phase as a teenager when I had to read only books that were for an older audience).

I would also suggest you not call any female a whore of any sort.
posted by pywacket at 10:01 AM on October 10, 2007

Colors Insulting to Nature by Cintra Wilson is excellent in terms of demonstrating the ultimate sadness of someone who has to look for approval everywhere but themselves, but it can be fairly graphic in parts and may not be appropriate for a 16 year old girl. I probably would have read it then, but fair warning that I still found it fairly disturbing (in a good way) when I read it last year at 22.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2007

Reward good behavior with sincere praise; ignore bad behavior (truly ignore it).

I was sort of an attention whore and my parents didn't give me attention because they didn't want to encourage it...I'm still looking for it but have learned to modulate it for the real world. Like others have said, 16 year olds are attention whores and they grow out of it or learn to manage it.
posted by kenzi23 at 2:34 PM on October 10, 2007

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