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The top 10 books to read before you step foot on campus

College is the perfect time for a new leaf, a new philosophy and a new perspective. These 10 books will change the way you look at everything from the meaning of life to what's for dinner.

Savage Inequalities

1. Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools by Jonathan Kozol

This important education-activism text paints a stark picture of the weaknesses of the American education system and its effect on children. The book is a must-read for education majors, aspiring social workers, and anyone who cares about the state of schools in America.

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

From the discovery of America to the 21st century, this modern Marxian classic conveys history through the eyes of the common people, rather than just the victors. Since its publication, this 1980 National Book Award runner-up has been read by millions in high school and college classrooms, book clubs and town halls.

3. Candide by Voltaire

The journey depicted in this French novel can help any student think critically about one's quest through the weird world of academia. Candide experiences a long list of trials and tribulations, all with a humorous slant. You'll probably have to read this one at some point--might as well get it out of the way now.

4. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Not sure whether you can afford to put down the cash for Spring Break? Take a mental trip with this classic piece of Spanish literature, instead. Some call Don Quixote the first modern novel, which is surprising for how hilarious and readable it really is.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Call us shallow, but one major purpose of going to college is to learn how to make connections that can benefit both your business and personal life. Break out of your academic shell and take a confident step toward your future with this empowering read.

6. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Attitude is key in any piece of reading for college, and Catcher in the Rye gives you a full dose. Follow the story of smart-mouthed Holden Caulfield, as he ponders the purpose of education. Fair warning: "Catcher" makes just as many students want to run off into the sunset, as finish a term paper.

7. The Stranger by Albert Camus

Existentialism is cool. What's cooler? Being able to chat up your first college squeeze about free will, colonialism, the meaning of life, and human importance in the physical world. Talk about an instant invite to study hour.

8. On the Concept of Irony by Soren Kierkegaard

College is a time of self-reflection, soul-searching, and heavy reading. If you're looking for an inspiration toward the academic life, check out this famed philosopher's thesis paper on socratic irony. After pondering this, the reading list for English Lit won't seem tough at all.

9. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Whether you view it as send-up or satire, this funny sorority tale is a big book to keep on the dorm room bookshelf--and an impressive conversation-starter. Whether or not it's an accurate interpretation of college (Duke University?) is up to you.

10. Microwave Cookbook by Pat Jester

In the end, being well-read doesn't matter if you don't have a balanced diet. With the Microwave Cookbook, forget the dorm stove and use the microwave to prepare healthy, hearty food. You'll save money, too, by dining in more than you eat out.

For many, college is a step into the unknown. Prepare yourself for everything from study hall to philosophy lecture to Saturday brunch with this essential college reading list.

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