Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How I Paid for College (Edward Zanni, #1)” as Want to Read:
How I Paid for College (Edward Zanni, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How I Paid for College (Edward Zanni #1)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,976 ratings  ·  364 reviews
It’s 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside of Manhattan. Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller–type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief. The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward’s father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard.

Edward’s truly in a bind.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 2nd 2005 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How I Paid for College, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How I Paid for College

Cut & Run by Abigail RouxZero at the Bone by Jane SevilleSpecial Forces by Aleksandr VoinovAt Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'NeillCall Me by Your Name by André Aciman
Top 100 Gay Novels of the XXI century
66th out of 403 books — 391 voters
Almost Like Being in Love by Steve KlugerShattered Glass by Dani AlexanderNaked by David SedarisI'll Be Your Drill, Soldier by Crystal RoseBear, Otter, and the Kid by T.J. Klune
Best LGBT Humor
26th out of 208 books — 323 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
4,5 stars!



Have you seen Project X? No, this book doesn't have a lot of in common with a movie Project X.
Except maybe an average age of the MCs.
Except maybe how I feel reading it!

This book cracked me up. I WAS ENTERTAINED!
Marc Acito made me laugh and his book left a smile on my face after I finished it.
It was a totally right choice. A perfect choice!

More later!
Sep 26, 2007 Punk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
Fiction. It's 1983 (though you really can't tell except for how Reagan's in office) and Edward Zanni's on top of the world. It's the summer before his senior year, he's been accepted to Juilliard, and life just couldn't be better, but everything screeches to a halt when Edward's father tells him he's not paying for his son to go to acting school. So Edward and his friends pull together and make a plan. The title pretty much says it all: nerd power, capers, sexual experimentation, con artists, an ...more
Becca Becca
This book started off pretty good and entertaining but then it went downhill and the plot and storyline got too unbelievable and out of control. I would have enjoyed just reading about the lives and antics of several "play people" high school students. I didn't need all the stuff about money laundering and blackmail.

I ended up kind of skimming the last 100 pages. I did enjoy a lot of the musical theater, pop culture references and it was a fluffy enough read for what I was in the mood for (I ne
Alissa Bach
Absolutely one of the funniest books I've read to date. Gordon Korman meets Ferris Bueller in a story where the characters get caught up in a hilarious and crazy-wacky scheme that totally snoballs out of control, beyond anything they can imagine.

It is the mid-80s, and all 17-year-old Edward wants is to enroll in the drama program at Julliard. But when his father remarries the most psycho of psycho step-mothers, Edward gets kicked out of the house and learns he can kiss his college plans goodbye.
UHH I really thought I would like this book because I like books about precocious teens and theatre and stuff, but this book was just like, insane. I felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy or whatever and just ended up being absurdly unrealistic. And Edward, the protagonist, was basically unlikeable. I get that he was supposed to be an insecure, self-absorbed teenager but like... damn was he ever. Also, this book was way long and slow-moving. Next time I want to read about self-aware theatr ...more
Edward Zanni, seventeen, wants to study acting at Julliard. It’s been his plan for as long as he can remember. But, his dad throws a wrench in the works when he announces that he’s not going to pay for college unless Edward goes to business school. Thus begins Edward’s year of insanity as he scrambles to find a way to pay for Julliard. Throw in some crazy money-making schemes (Edward can’t seem to hold onto a real job for more than a few days) involving theft, money-laundering, a Catholic Vigila ...more
I actually got this book on tape from my library's tiny selection. And I'm so glad I listened to it on tape as the actor doing the voices did a great job and it was HILARIOUS with the various New Jersey/east coast accents. The only reason I didn't give it a four is because the main character is so completely self absorbed. He's ungrateful to people who are risking everything for him and he gets angry at them when their plans to help him don't work out, etc. He's the definition of a spoiled brat. ...more
My sister half-read this book but was raving about how funny and awesome it was so I had to read it, too. Plus, the cover is lovely and eye-catching.

I liked the GLBTness of it and the humor. Wow, the comdey of this novel was perfect and the whole thing was paced well and just great! I liked how it took place in the '80s (and you could just tell that from page one, come one people) and the great knowledge of the theatre (musicals, plays, etc. you know).

But for some reason I couldn't concentrate o
Laala Alghata
“I put on my new glasses to heighten the effect. The glasses have a sort of pinkish tint to them that bathes everything I see in a rosy glow, and I’m pleased with myself for buying something that doesn’t necessarily make me look good to the world (they are a little faggy, I guess) but which makes the world look good to me instead.” — Marc Acito, How I Paid For College

Let me say this from the get-go: if Philippa hadn’t handed me this book, I wouldn’t have ever picked it up; if she hadn’t then hov
May 21, 2009 Chloe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chloe by: Jen
Edward Zanni seems to have it made: he rules the roost at his high school's drama department, has a very important audition for Juilliard coming soon and more potential lovers than seems right for a boy of his doughy physique. To cadge a line from Gypsy Lee, "everything's coming up roses" for young Ed. Until, in delightful Disney fashion, his yuppie father marries a Bavarian ice princess who makes Snow White's evil stepmother look like the poster-parent of foster care. Soon Edward is cut off fin ...more
This novel gave me a nightmare about being forced to ride through the Napa hills in the lap of a closeted gay teenage boy driving a motorcycle as his mass of shiny black curls flowed in the breeze. He wouldn’t let me off the motorcycle. I wish I were kidding.

My overall impression of this novel is that it was both aimless and horrifying. There is not a scruple to be found amongst the main characters of this cynical, oversexed ode to theater life in 1983 suburban New Jersey.

Edward Zanni is a large
Back in the December ice storm when we were taking refuge at todd and kevin's house I plucked this at random from Kevin's bookshelf and got sucked in to the offbeat story and hilarious cast of characters. It is basically a really funny story about an elaborate embezzlement plot carried out by a misfit high school senior and his crazy crew of friends to figure out how to pay for his first semester at Juliard that involves a lawn Buddha, embezzling funds previously embezzled by an evil step-mother ...more
Kirsty (alkalinekiwi)
This caught my eye at a library booksale where all the books were marked down to 20c. I remember adding it to the towering pile of books in my arms and a startled employee running to get me a trolley should the whole thing topple over and knock someone out under several kilograms of books.

I loved this book and would give it 4.5 stars if I could. From the start I was gripped and it helped me ignore the pain from my swollen post-surgery face.
Edward and his friends' schemes and plans were nothing
I think that the subtitle really sums up this funny book, which may or may not be loosely based on the author's teen years. It is full of ridiculous things, a series of almost anecdotes tied together. Teens do not, as a rule, drug people and take sexually suggestive pictures in order to blackmail them to get money for Julliard. They do, of course, deal with sex. They also play silly pranks and deal with horrible parents and stepparents. There are so many serious and emotionally draining moments ...more
Nikki Boisture
This book just cracked me up. It is a very funny look at a Jersey boy who is a star in his school plays. His father refuses to pay for college if he decides to go to Julliard rather than business school. This novel follows the main character, Edward and his band of misfit friends (plus the school's football star) in their quest to get the money for Edward to go to Julliard by any means necessary. Including fraud and blackmail.

This book should be made into a movie!
John Miller
Marc Acito is a riot. He is relentlessly witty to the point of inciting bursts of laughter in public places. In this socially awkward - yet inspiring - teenage journey to college, it is quite likely that you will be able to relate to someone in this eclectic montage of characters and events. In the unlikely event that you do not, be ready to live vicariously for 288 pages that will certainly leave you with a smile.
Droll and witty as you please, this book has been a lot of fun. Which, when you think about it, is what matters most when you're merely looking for merry literary escapades. The secret to enjoying this title to its fullest is not to take it too seriously, with its far-fetched and fanciful plot twists, crazy-wacky situations and somewhat larger-than-life characters (almost all of whom mercifully grow out of their initial stereotypes, namely those of the Flamboyant Gay(-ish) Guy, his Equally Flamb ...more
This was a funny, funny, well-written book. Can't wait to read more of Marc Acito's work. My only complaint is Edward's constant dithering back and forth over his sexuality. I found myself wanting to shake him and say, "Pick something, damn it !"
I truly enjoyed this book. A great tale about a boy in the early 1980s trying to get into and pay for the college of his dreams. Very funny and heartfelt.
Kanda Faye
This is the funniest book I have ever read! Though the writing style was not my taste, I very much enjoyed reading this.
I picked this book up on a whim at the library one day because I needed something to listen to in my car and my next audiobook on reserve had not come in yet. The premise sounded funny, I myself was a musical theatre geek in high school, so I thought I would give it a shot. I was glad I did. This book was hysterical! Quick, witty and very smartly written I found myself laughing out loud several times while listening and wishing I was friends with these guys in high school. The characters were we ...more
Hilarious!! Every theatre person needs to read these books because we have these friends!!
I love me a good gay catcher in the rye story anyday
Matthew Vandrew
One word: hilarious. Loved every word.

Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Brian
Cover Story: You Too Can Ace the SAT Test!
Drinking Buddy: Stranded at the Velvet Rope
Testosterone Level: Insert Generic History of the World, Part I Sex Pun Here
Talky Talk: And Opie Taylor Grew Up to be a Drag Queen
Bonus Factors: LGBT, 1984, Big is Beautiful, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up
Bromance Status: That Idealized Bunch of High School Friends

Read the full book report here.
This is just a really fun book. It's crazy, not entirely relatable, not particularly dramatic. It's just a fun, fluffy romp that will bring back ridiculous memories to any high school drama nerd. I first picked it up off a discount table when I was living far away from home. I had only graduated from high school about 6 months before, and was missing my friends and the atmosphere of drama society, so it seemed like a good fit. And it was. Over the next few months I read it several times, and lik ...more
Roof Beam Reader
Acito's first novel, How I Paid for College is an hilarioius, honest in an "I don't believe this" sorta way re-telling of a coming-of-age story. Of particular praise is Acito's way of making a gay (technically bisexual) story-line important, without having it overshadow the true essence of the novel, which is that of self-realization, growth, separation, maturity/immaturity, and loss of innocence. That one of the main character's challenges is being unable to cry as an actor says much about the ...more
Props to the author/agent/editor/publisher of How I Paid for College for coming up with a subtitle that really encapsulates the entire novel in one breath: "A novel of sex, theft, friendship and musical theater." That's really what it is. No, really.

When Edward finds himself screwed by a new stepmother, overbearing businessman father and no way to pay for his lifelong dream of attending acting school with the best young actors of America, he turns to his friends for support. His friends from his
Julie H.
Marc Acito writes with both humor and heart-wrenching clarity of the awkwardness of transitioning from boy to man.

Given the book's title, I was expecting a good bit of misbehaving, and the book did not fail in that area. How I Paid for College... is a madcap retrospective year-in-the-life romp through high school senior Edward Zanni's life. (Do yourself a favor and pronounce it "Zany" as you read it, because that's precisely what you're in for.)

The ensemble of characters is brilliant and the m

How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater by Marc Acito is more like a novel of drug use, creative vandalism, identity theft, regular theft, blackmail, and musical theater. (And other stuff, see Serious Trigger Warning below*). In his last year of high school, Edward Zanni’s father gets remarried and refuses to pay for his son’s college unless he goes to a business school. Edward, however, is dreaming of following his friend Pam
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book review 1 13 Jul 29, 2008 04:17PM  
  • Drama Queers!
  • The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second
  • Almost Like Being in Love
  • Tale of Two Summers
  • The Order of the Poison Oak (Russel Middlebrook, #2)
  • The Straight Road to Kylie
  • Rainbow High (Rainbow Trilogy, #2)
  • Vintage: A Ghost Story
  • Selfish and Perverse
  • Saints of Augustine
  • The Year of Ice
  • Leave Myself Behind
  • The World of Normal Boys
  • Absolutely Positively Not
  • He's The One
  • Sprout
  • Love Drugged
For those who do not know me, I'm very famous. My debut novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater won the Oregon Book Awards' Ken Kesey Award for the Novel although I sometimes leave out the Oregon part to make it sound more important. It was also selected as a Top Ten Teen Pick by the American Library Association, though it still has not achieved my ulti ...more
More about Marc Acito...

Other Books in the Series

Edward Zanni (2 books)
  • Attack of the Theater People (Edward Zanni, #2)
Attack of the Theater People (Edward Zanni, #2) Birds of a Feather Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City Gay City: Volume 2

Share This Book

“So I kept reading, just to stay alive. In fact, I'd read two or three books at the same time, so I wouldn't finish one without being in the middle of another -- anything to stop me from falling into the big, gaping void. You see, books fill the empty spaces. If I'm waiting for a bus, or am eating alone, I can always rely on a book to keep me company. Sometimes I think I like them even more than people. People will let you down in life. They'll disappoint you and hurt you and betray you. But not books. They're better than life.” 65 likes
“There are moments in your life when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes, when your only hope of believing you’re capable of doing something is because someone else believes it for you.” 14 likes
More quotes…