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10 Textbooks You'll Want On Your Bookshelf After Graduation

By Lorena Roberts

Buying textbooks for your college courses can be one of the most financially stressful parts of being a college student (other than the fact that tuition is on the rise!). While some students opt to buy used textbooks online, from an upperclassman, or at a used textbook store, others forego buying textbooks for their classes altogether. Another option for buying your college textbooks is a textbook subscription service that will give you access to thousands of educational resources over the course of either one year or a semester, depending on which option you purchase. 

Other students will rent textbooks from Amazon or Chegg or find textbooks on Textsurf. These are great alternatives to purchasing textbooks, but students must be aware of the repercussions of only renting a textbook (or foregoing getting one altogether).

Renting textbooks means you must return them. Which might not always be a bad thing. There were several textbooks I rented over the course of my college career and I don't regret that at all. However, there are some textbooks I definitely should've bought.

There are days when I'm writing a paper or studying for a test when I wish I had some old textbooks to sift through and remind myself of things I should have retained from undergrad. Now that I'm in grad school, I'm wishing I had some of my old textbooks to reference. There are things I "learned" when I was taking classes in undergrad, but I don't remember all the specifics. If I had my textbooks on my shelf at home, I wouldn't have to do as much "catching up" and instead I'd be able to quickly reference what I need for my current classes.

If you're considering anything other than buying your textbooks outright, be sure you review this list of the ten textbooks you'll wish you had on your shelf after graduation: 

1. Writing manuals, citation instructions, etc.

Whether or not you're preparing to go to graduate school, having this type of book on your shelf could save you in a time of panic. When it's something you don't do every day, it's something you forget pretty quickly. MLA citations, formatting research papers, and using commas can all be problem areas when you're writing a paper. If you're going to financially invest in a writing manual for your freshman year of college, you might as well keep in on your shelf in case you need it in the future.

Imagine yourself up against a big deadline in graduate school -- you're about to turn in your final paper, but you're worried that you haven't cited your sources correctly. You start Googling -- but you're getting all these different answers and you're getting more and more frustrated as time goes on. If you hang onto that writing manual from college, you'll have easy access to a solid source. Not only that, but you'll be able to go back and edit all your comma splices, quotation errors, and incorrect usage of grammar -- all before your deadline. Your grade has been saved -- and so has your dignity.

You're welcome.

2. Any courses that pertain to your future career.

Especially if you're planning to go to graduate school, it's important that you keep the textbooks on your shelf that have anything to do with your future. That abnormal psychology book may come in handy once you're studying to be a Clinical Psychologist. Your organic chemistry textbook from your senior year might lend you a hand once you're in medical school. It's textbooks that have the opportunity to aid you in brushing up on your knowledge later on that are important to keep on your shelf.

How neat would it be to be able to pick up the book that sparked your interest in what will become your career? Show your grandkiddos "this was the book that started it all."

You'll be able to entertain dinner guests with your collection of marine biology textbooks and reminisce over how tough your courses were.

3. Textbooks with intricate information.

Anatomy and Physiology is a hard course, so I hear. I've never actually had to take it -- but I've watched many students study for an exam and it looks terribly painful. I'm sure the textbook for this type, of course, has tons of labeled pictures, diagrams, and explanations. This is the type of textbook you're going to want to keep on your shelf.

Sure, it's always possible to Google the things you've forgotten from initially learning about it. But having the textbook could prove to save you in a time of panic later on, especially if you've kept the writing manual you used your freshman year. We all know you bookmarked the chapters with citation instructions, comma splices, and they're/there/their. Keep this one on your shelf for when you're in times of great need. I promise there will come a day.

4. Textbooks for courses you studied hard for.

The sense of accomplishment you feel from making an "A" in that really tough course (or a "C" because it was just that hard) can be prolonged. Keep that textbook around. Remind yourself of what you're capable of when you put your mind to something. It might seem nerdy, but in your "grown-up" house, you'll likely have a home office. Keeping these types of textbooks on the shelf will be a constant reminder of how hard you had to study to pull out a solid grade.

Plus, you probably spent a couple hundred dollars on that textbook -- so why not go ahead and make it part of your bookshelf decor?

5. Any textbook where you took the time to highlight, make notes, etc.

Whether it was your freshman year and you were trying really hard to make sure you didn't fail college, or it was the toughest class you ever took during your senior year -- if you wrote it in, took notes in it, posted sticky notes inside of, or otherwise, you'll find it important that you keep that textbook around. If anything, it'll remind you of your "glory days" when you spent your Sundays doing homework in the library (maybe hungover from the night before) hoping and praying you were going to be able to pull out an "A."

Some students are truly visual learners. So they take lots of notes in the margins of their textbooks. These are so valuable. Thoughts, opinions, tricks for remembering facts... all these are what make a used textbook simply priceless. If you have textbooks where you've taken the time to write in the margins, highlight the important stuff, and underline the take-home points, those are worth keeping around.

6. Any textbook that you want to hurry and throw out...

It takes a while to adjust to life after graduation, so before you go through and clean out all your textbooks and notes. You'll be in this mood of "wow I'm all done with school," and you'll want to throw everything away, freeing yourself of responsibilities. But then weeks will come and go and you'll come to wonder why you threw out all of those books you might need some day.

You'll be impulsive after graduation and you'll want to reorganize your apartment and act like you're now a true adult. You have a degree and you can do adult things, like clean off your bookshelf from college. But what's neat about keeping those books around is that they're like souvenirs from some of the best days of your life.

Before you rush home from graduation and throw away all your textbooks and notes, wait a few months.

7. Any introduction courses that you thought were interesting.

Most everyone has to take a class like "intro to psychology" or "intro to modern art." Sometimes it can be tough to get past the "this isn't in my major, why do I have to take this?" mindset, but these are courses that could open your mind to the world of curiosity. If you take any classes during your college career that pique your interest (if only a little), keep the textbook! One day you might be retired and want to revisit whatever it was that proved intriguing "back in the day."

Sure, you'll likely be able to look things up on the Google, but that's not the same as turning pages in a textbook. Exploring the world of knowledge through a college textbook is exciting! One day you'll appreciate that you kept those books around all these years.

8. Textbooks from courses that were almost your major.

If you were the college student who changed their major a few times ... well... let's face it -- we all were. Whether you went from marketing to art history, math to psychology, or education to political science, changing majors is simply just a part of being in college. So whatever you thought you were interested in -- those textbooks still matter. And one day, you might want to re-explore your interest in those areas. So instead of throwing out the textbooks that once captivated your mind, keep them around for a few years. You never know where your career path is going to take you!

9. If you knew the author...

don't ever throw that textbook away. Especially if it was your college professor. To be taught by someone who knows enough content to have actually written a textbook is a true blessing. Also, there's a pretty good chance that could be worth something someday. Even if it's to just say you were taught by the professor who wrote a textbook. A textbook that's sitting on your shelf. Pretty special, don't you think?

10. Textbooks from courses where you met your very best friends.

The memories you make in college will honestly last a lifetime. You'll cherish the good and the bad -- the funny and the sad. You'll reminisce with your pals 25 years later over a bonfire in your backyard, and it'll be the perfect moment to pull out your textbook from the class where you all met. It's like a yearbook of sorts, and it'll bring you back to the days you spent pouring over your notes studying for a big exam (or not).

You'll laugh about all those Sundays you wasted sitting in the library pretending to study, drinking endless cups of coffee to stay awake. Your friends will think it's rad that you kept the textbook from the course where you first met -- an omen of how great your friendship has been all these years.

If you have the textbook from where you met some of your very best friends -- that's a good one to keep on the shelf.

Going to college means you get to make some of the greatest memories of your life -- but it also means you have to work your butt off. Some people may say there's a difference between "easy" and "hard" majors, and others will say it depends on what college you go to, but when it comes down to it, college is tough for a number of reasons. Moving to a new place, sharing a room with someone, taking classes that are way harder than high school, and figuring out how in the world to pay for it all...

Textbooks can be the least of your worries when you're transitioning to your new life. But they'll be a pretty big part of your everyday routine while you're in school. So how do you decide which textbooks you should keep on the shelf and which ones you should toss? If they fall in any of the above mentioned ten categories, you should keep them around -- at least for a few years after you toss your cap.