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15 College Books That Will Actually Change Your Life

They may not be on your syllabus, but these books are required reading. You can get them and other items with free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime Student.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about books they read in college that ended up changing their lives. Here's what they had to say.

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

"Read this during a focus on postcolonial literature in my World Lit class. I've always been very interested in learning about other cultures; however, it was this class that taught me all of the history books written in the West really didn't portray those cultures in the truest sense. It was the literature from those countries, written by authors living there, that did. This book stuck out in my mind and has stayed on my top-five list along with Gathering Blue, Night, the Harry Potter series, and The Hobbit. Okonkwo's struggle to define himself on his own terms while staying true to his culture despite the encroaching Western world resonated with me — and his tragic end broke my heart. While I know my life is completely different, I read this at a time when I needed to define myself while respecting my family's values but also while refusing to let 'friends' influence very important lifestyle choices."

—Stephanie Ryan via Facebook

2. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles by Richard T. Schaefer and William W. Zellner

"Sounds boring, but it is well written and fun for a 'textbook' (I use that term loosely, as it is not technically a textbook). I had to read if for sociology, which I ended up changing my major to. It also introduced me to what I am sure is a lifelong curiosity and interest in the Amish and the Romani Gypsy cultures. I read that book eight years ago and still reread it at least once a year. Cultures are fascinating, especially if they are vastly different from your own. Why not learn about them and be more empathetic?"

—Alexandra Denton via Facebook

3. Food Rules by Michael Pollan

"I read it for my first-year writing class. Along with the coursework, we had to put in so many hours at a community garden. In a time when the 'freshman 15' was so real, this simple book taught me to eat clean, fresh, and local."

—Caroline Geeze via Facebook

4. Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf

"I read this as part of my Women's Mental Health class in my first year of college, and it opened my eyes to the aspects of pregnancy that most wouldn't consider."

—Christina Diaz via Facebook

5. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

" it for a class called the Philosophy of Work. This book and that class as a whole really opened up my eyes and made me think critically about capitalism and the way our society works."

—Oliver Coley via Facebook

6. Zapotec Science by Roberto J. Gonzalez

"An ethnography that describes Zapotec farming practices over millennia and translates them through a scientific lens. There's a lot about how teocinte became maize/corn and how imported crops (coffee) were integrated into the farms over centuries. All the farming implements have custom-made handles to fit the user. I love this book. I gave a copy to my dad."

—Laurie Power via Facebook

7. Probation, Parole, and Community-Based Corrections: Supervision, Treatment, and Evidence-Based Practices by Gary Bayens and John Smykla

"I used that book a lot in college for classes besides Alternative Punishment for papers because it was such a good source. It was also written by one of my professors. I think it was the best investment in a textbook I could ask for."

—April Catherine via Facebook

8. Paradise Lost by John Milton

"Reading Paradise Lost by Milton was definitely a game changer for me. Did it have its issues because it was written in the 17th century? Absolutely! But I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most brilliant works of literature to have been produced ever. I'm seldom as moved as I was reading a section about the Fall in book nine, or Adam's reconciliation with Eve in book 11 — and book one is just brilliant. All the love!"

—Philippe Mongeau via Facebook

9. Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson

"Two psychologists wrote a book about the effects of gender constructs and societal expectations on parenting boys. Information is gathered from their patients' experiences as well as peer-reviewed studies and collaboration."

—Ashley Kouba via Facebook

10. Discipline & Punish by Michel Foucault

"I was assigned to read it in three different classes, in three different departments. It is a complex book, and I am glad I had a professor who explained it properly. This book isn't just about one subject. It teaches you to think, to understand how ideas are built and change through time, and how our modern civilization is built on practices originally from prisons."

—Leah Brainerd via Facebook

11. The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin De Becker

"It was required for one of my criminal justice courses, and it blew me away. Everyone should read it!"


12. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

"I finally read Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, and it was the first book I read by a non-American and non-European author (i know, limited). His writing style and surrealism were amazing. It changed the way I wrote and created. I've read more of his works, and all have been amazing. Still, One Hundred Years is my favorite. It's the book that really taught me suspension of disbelief."

—Azure Adams via Facebook

13. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

"This book is what made my feminism blossom. I had never really thought about many feminist issues before. I was pretty comfortable just floating along with the status quo, just like Offred before everything went to hell. The way that everything happens is so gradual (cutting off women's access to money, making them more reliant on men, the men assuring them that everything is fine) that it seemed realistic and terrifying. I could imagine it actually happening. I read that book and for the first time realized that the potential risk of just floating along was massive, so I stopped floating."

—Abby Harvey via Facebook

14. The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

"I had to read this for my first class in my major, Supply Chain Management, and the fact that I couldn't put it down even though it wasn't due for two weeks says it all. It confirmed for me that I was in the right major, but it is a great book for anyone looking to go into the business world or anywhere where they need to improve a process."

—Kayla Jean Lombardi via Facebook

15. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

"Carried by Tim O'Brien. I read it for my English class during my sophomore year. It is a beautifully written set of short stories about the actual thoughts and feelings of soldiers in the Vietnam War. You see many characters whose feelings while deployed conflict with the beliefs they had growing up, and they try to sort through these feelings."

—Amor Luciano via Facebook

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