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47 Books Every College Grad Should Read

The reading doesn't end with class.

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2. Spinster by Kate Bolick

Think of Spinster as the "A Room of One's Own" for the 21st century. Kate Bolick's book is both a memoir and a reflection on her literary heroines who positively exemplified the way of the spinster.

3. Civil Wars by June Jordan

Meet your new favorite essayist who you will champion and talk about for the rest of your life. June Jordan's sharp essays cover everything from race to sexuality to education while blurring the lines between the political and the personal.

5. White Girls by Hilton Als

Hilton Als' unique blend of cultural criticism, fiction, and memoir not only challenges our assumptions of what a collection of writing can be, but his categorization of "white girls" encompasses a wide array of individuals across racial, sexual, and gender identities.

6. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

It's considered one of the top essay collections of 2014 for a reason. Leslie Jamison's in-depth look at different manifestations of empathy — within herself and others — is essential reading for everyone.

9. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Can you be feminist and enjoy dancing to "Blurred Lines"? And adore Channing Tatum's abs? And fight rape culture, all at once? Roxane Gay's collection of essays is a resounding and affirming yes.

10. Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and quickly became close friends. Patchett's memoir is a tribute to the love and struggles in our friendships.

11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Now's the time to brush up on all the quirky science lessons you may have forgotten. In his quest to explain nearly everything, Bill Bryson is like the professor you wish you had.

13. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Coping with life after college can be difficult, and it's easy to feel alone in the struggle. Jeffrey Eugenides' novel is a reminder that no matter which struggles we face, we aren't alone.

14. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is credited with coining the term "mansplaining" from her titular essay of this collection. But it's so much more than that: Men Explain Things to Me is the perfect introduction to Solnit.

17. The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron took on many roles during her career as a writer: journalist, advocate, screenwriter, and playwright. Read the very best of her work in this wonderful collection.

18. A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

A guide to self-care before it was called self-care, Virginia Woolf's words stand as a reminder that creating a space that's all your own is important, for yourself and your work.

19. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Written in the wake of the Holocaust, psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor E. Frankl's book illuminates how to forge a meaningful life in spite of any challenge or difficulty you may face.

20. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Joan Didion hardly needs an introduction. Her quintessential essays "On Self-Respect" and "Goodbye to All That" are must-reads for as you embark on your postgrad journey.

22. The Group by Mary McCarthy

Though Mary McCarthy wrote this novel in 1963 about a group of college graduates from 1933, some things never change: relationships, friendships, and sex.

24. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

In some ways, David Sedaris is like a real-life, grown-up version of Charlie Brown: Things are always a little grim and melancholic, but there is joy to be found nonetheless.

28. H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

In the wake of her father's death, Helen Macdonald, an experienced falconer, decided to work with the dangerous goshawk. The book provides a sweeping and genre-crossing look into the different ways we grieve.

31. The Night of the Gun by David Carr

There may never be another journalist quite like David Carr. His memoir isn't just about his journey from crack addict to New York Times journalist; it's about the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we define ourselves by.

34. Generation X by Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland's novel of drifting post–baby boomers rings true for this year's college grads as much as it did in 1991. Hang on to this one when someone tries to single out our particular generation for a target.

35. Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith's memoir is about living in New York City as a young person in the 1960s and 1970s. But more importantly, it's about friendship and finding your own way.

36. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

For all the history not covered in class, spend time learning about America from the bottom up through the eyes of the working class. This is a history book you won't mind carrying around on your commute.

37. The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

You've learned how to write a killer analysis of The Great Gatsby, but what about writing your own story? Vivian Gornick will help you sort out what makes a personal essay come together.

39. Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang

With his blunt style, Eddie Huang's memoir is ultimately about defying expectations and living by your own rules. It also happens to the basis of ABC's hit show of the same name.

41. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

Go beyond Sylvia Plath's poetry and gain insight into her inspirations and struggles as a young woman balancing her talents, marriage, and motherhood against the expectations of the mid-century.

42. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Never has a family's history been more fascinating. Without the pressures of school or pending essays, spend a week with Gabriel García Márquez's epic novel.

43. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

Being an adult and taking on all the responsibilities that come with it aren't as intimidating with Kelly Williams Brown's helpful advice on everything from how to find an apartment to avoiding office hookups.

44. All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Love is more than a feeling; it is an action. Feminist scholar bell hooks deconstructs what our societal and cultural expectations of love are and calls for a love based in action and redemption.

45. Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon

Before Twitter, there was art critic Félix Fénéon. A masterclass in storytelling, Fénéon's three-line "novels" range from tragic to funny and reveal how everyday life can be mined for inspiration.

46. My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

Our favorite books often speak to greater truths in our lives. Rebecca Mead traces the importance of George Eliot's Middlemarch through the years in its historical context and within her own life.

47. After the Tall Timber by Renata Adler

While a prominent writer, Renata Adler's work has experienced a revival in past years. From her dispatches from the civil rights march in Selma to her scathing critique of film critic Pauline Kael in "House Critic," Adler's writing is necessary reading for anyone who aspires to a career in journalism.

Do you know of a book that should be on this list? Tell us in the comments below!