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Bookish in General > Fall Syllabus: Campus novels!

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message 1: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
The air is growing crisp, and apple cider is back on the menu at all my favorite coffee shops which can only mean one's fall! And what better way to spend the first chilly days of fall than devouring my favorite sub-sub-genre of fiction: the campus novel! If it takes place at a prep school, boarding school, or university campus, I'll definitely read it. There's something about throwing all those different personalities and agendas into the microcosm that is academic that promises drama and conflict and quirky characters.

So my fall challenge is to plow my way through the following campus novels while watching the leaves change and sipping the aforementioned cider:

Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord
College Girl by Patricia Weitz
The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Living on Air by Anna Shapiro
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
All Souls by Christine Schutt
Educating Waverley by Laura Kalpakian

And here are some of my favorites, in case you want to add to your TBR shelf...

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Posh by Lucy Jackson
Schooled by Anisha Lakhani
Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Greig
Mexican High by Liza Monroy
Whores on the Hill by Colleen Curran
The New Girls by Beth Gutcheon
Special by Bella Bathurst
Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

So what are your favorite campus novels? And which ones did I miss??

message 2: by Jill (new)

Jill | 10 comments There's also...
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Blue Angels by Francine Prose

Btw, I LOVED The Rehearsal, although it's not for everyone.

message 3: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
Hi Jill,

I got about halfway through The Rehearsal. I plan to go back to it someday, but for whatever reason I needed a break.

People keep recommending Blue Angel to me. Did you like it?

message 4: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
Forgot to add this to the list: Cum Laude by Cecily von Ziegesar. (What do you expect from a Gossip Girl fan?!)

message 5: by Mark Allen (new)

Mark Allen Don't forget the Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys, both by Micheal Chabon.

message 6: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
Mark, I DID forget about those. Will have to add to the TBR list...

message 7: by Mark Allen (new)

Mark Allen Nice Work by David Lodge would work here too I think.

message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill | 10 comments Marisa wrote: "Hi Jill,

I got about halfway through The Rehearsal. I plan to go back to it someday, but for whatever reason I needed a break.

People keep recommending Blue Angel to me. Did you lik..."

message 9: by Jill (new)

Jill | 10 comments Yes...I'm a big Francine Prose fan and Blue Angels was great!

message 10: by Hillary (new)

Hillary Major | 22 comments I recommend The Big U by Neal Stephenson, a sci fi satire of University life. The technology's a little dated (I'm thinking he wrote it in the 80s) but it still amuses me :-)

message 11: by Lori (new)

Lori (TNBBC) Oooh I really liked Donna Tart's "The Secret History".. great stuff!!!

I read Easton's "Rules of Attraction" but much preferred "Less Than Zero" to it... He's got such a great 80's vibe, open one of his books is like taking a time warp trip...

message 12: by Rebecca (new)

message 13: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
Okay, so far I've been an epic failure at making it through all these campus novels. And it's already November! Fall is running out!

I am just about ten pages shy of finishing Starter for Ten by David Nicholls, which wasn't on my original list but definitely qualifies as a campus novel. If you haven't yet read Nicholls, you MUST! I'm loving everything he's written and wish he had 100 novels instead of 3. Hopefully a few more are in the works...

message 14: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 21 comments Lucky Jim is my undisputed hands-down favorite book ever (I'm weird, I know). Also a fan of the David Lodge trilogy, one of which was mentioned above. Straight Man is on my to-read list, and is supposed to be an excellent campus novel, as well.

In general, if campus novels were a genre (and maybe they are), they'd be my favorite. Thanks for the many great suggestions in this thread.

message 15: by Mark Allen (new)

Mark Allen Skippy Dies by Paul Murray that came out last year would do well on this list.

Pnin and Pale Fire by Nabakov both belong in this subgenre somewhere as well.

message 16: by David (last edited Jan 14, 2011 08:03PM) (new)

David Carr | 3 comments Stoner, by John Williams, is among the most important of America's neglected novels. The Professor's House, by Willa Cather, is less strong but also fine. Bernard Malamud, another neglected master, wrote A New Life, and it should be on this list as well. James Hynes wrote a set of three novellas under the title Publish and Perish, and they are truly funny -- and fine writing. He has done another called The Lecturer's Tale, but I have not read it. A Person of Interest, by Susan Choi, was pretty impressive. There is also the old tweedy R. F. Delderfield book, To Serve them All My Days, for the Anglophiles. Among the books already listed, Straight Man, by Richard Russo, is brilliant.

message 17: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
I really love that this thread continues to spark discussion and recommendations. Who doesn't love a campus novel?! Thank you all for doubling my to-read list... :)

message 18: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown | 21 comments Oh, Stoner is an all-time favorite of mine as well. Such a terrific book.

message 19: by David (new)

David Carr | 3 comments While it is not clearly a campus novel, I would add Charles Baxter's wonderful book, The Feast of Love, set in Ann Arbor.

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Books mentioned in this topic

The New Girls (other topics)
Mexican High (other topics)
Never Let Me Go (other topics)
Commencement (other topics)
All Souls (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Neal Stephenson (other topics)
E. Lockhart (other topics)
David Nicholls (other topics)
David Lodge (other topics)