Reading has always been my favorite pastime, but college has destroyed the fun of novels for me. Something about being forced to read 50 pages per class per night of textbooks and novels and everything else had made the activity more of an inescapable responsibility than a hobby.

HOWEVER, some of my professors have enriched the class syllabus with real gold. Below are some stories I might not have read if not for class assignments, but they are—and I cannot emphasize this enough—so amazing.

1. "Memoirs of a Geisha"

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This novel is a work of art. I mean, truly, it is one of my favorite things I've ever read. If you haven't read it, please do. It's very interesting to read about the life of a geisha told by a white, American male author.

2. "Red Badge of Courage"

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This is just a really interesting study in POV. Also, the story felt hyper-realistic.

3. "Cat's Cradle"

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I can't even remember the plot of this one anymore, but I know it was really strange. I had pretty vivid nightmares, but hey, that's how you know a book's good, right?

4. "A Canticle for Leibowitz"

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I'd never heard of this story before I read it for my first-year seminar, and it ended up being really wild. It's not an easy read, but I think it's a rewarding one. Check out the ratings here.

5. "The Blithedale Romance"

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I was not a fan of The Scarlet Letter, but Hawthorne really brought it home with this one. I wouldn't pick it up as a casual read, but it's definitely got some enthralling plot twists. Would recommend.

6. "The Awakening"

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This beauty by Kate Chopin is such a necessary, powerful read. It really illuminated some significant feminist issues for me, and I think its message can be different for each person who reads it.

7. "Howards End"

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Important houses are always fun story subjects, and Howards End is no exception. A wild ride with unexpected twists.

8. "Wieland"

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This is more of a casual read than some of the others. It's just twist after twist after twist. Honestly, I'm still not sure who the actual antagonist of the story is. Art, amirite?

9. "The Things They Carried"

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I read this in a creative writing class, so we really focused on how Tim O'Brien interwove the themes in the story and used POV to enhance the storytelling. Beyond its merit from a writing standpoint, it's also just a generally interesting and illuminating read.

10. "Moby Dick"

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I admittedly might have liked the story more just because my professor was so enthusiastic about it, but it was genuinely interesting. Listen to the audiobook while you're lying in bed and it might just seem more dramatic and fantastic.

11. "The Forever War"

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Space. Aliens. Humans. War. The future. What's not to love about a classic sci-fi tale?

12. "Interpreter of Maladies"

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This is actually a collection of short stories, but Jhumpa Lahiri provides such a depiction of Indian culture both overseas and here in America, and it is so well written. I'm pretty sure she's my new favorite author. If you only consider reading one thing on this list, make it this.

Anyway, if any of you ever have a break from the litany of responsibilities that accompanies adulthood, do take the time to read some of these. Reading is good for the brain!