66 Campus Novels for Back-to-School Reading

Posted by Sharon on August 1, 2022


The college campus has been a popular setting for books since the days of ancient Greece. In fact, Aristotle once wrote a dark academic thriller—Bald-Faced Lyres—set at his lyceum circa 300 BCE.
 
We kid, we kid. But it’s true that the campus novel is an interesting specimen that can cut across multiple genres. Here we’ve collected a class of relatively new books where most or all of the action takes place in a high school or college campus setting, just in time for back-to-school reading/procrastination! You'll also notice we've appended a footnote section at the bottom for Notable Alumni—three additional famous books with campus themes that we couldn't bear leaving off this list.
 
The recent dark academia resurgence is well-represented this year (check out The Cloisters, Babel, and Ordinary Monsters). And if that weren't harrowing enough, beleaguered graduate students appear to be a developing trend (Disorientation, The Latinist, Identitti)!
 
Scroll over the book images below for details and further links, and add any interesting items to your Want to Read shelf. Feel free to engage in further (polite!) discussion in the comments section.
 

2022

Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating

2021

Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
 

2020

Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
 

2019

Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
 

Notable Alumni

Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating
Rate this book
Clear rating


What are your favorite campus novels and dark academia books? Drop the titles in the comments below!

Check out more recent articles.
 

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by gh11 (new)

gh11 Highly recommend The Orchard by David Hopen. Extremely well-written with characters that will haunt you long after you finish.


message 2: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld


message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara David Lodge's Campus Trilogy (Changing Places;Small World; Nice Work)


message 4: by Dave (new)

Dave "Lucky Jim," by Kingsley Amis takes some justified shots at academia. "If I Don't Six," by Elwood Reid is a tale of a season in the life of a big-time college athlete. I'd mention Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons," too, for a slice of life of a naive coed at an elite institution; it could have been about 150 pages shorter, though.


message 5: by Saimon (new)

Saimon (ZanyAnomaly) cosigning These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever and Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo <3 best books to come out in the recent years. I also loved The Orchard, White Ivy, Secret History, and If We Were Villains. I can't wait to read Babel. I have a type I guess, lol.


message 6: by John (new)

John Richard Russo, Straight Man. I don't know any real academic who has read this and has not laughed out loud many times.


message 7: by Kate (new)

Kate John wrote: "Richard Russo, Straight Man. I don't know any real academic who has read this and has not laughed out loud many times."

So true! This book is one of my all-time favorites.


message 8: by Lucy (last edited Aug 08, 2022 07:16PM) (new)

Lucy Lennox MFA Thesis Novel, on point satire of graduate school


message 9: by Mary (new)

Mary Moo, one of my favorite campus novels by Jane Smiley is missing from this list.


message 10: by johnc (new)

johnc I'd recommend All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen. Especially brilliant is the story it contains about an aging grad student writing a Russian dissertation at Syracuse University.


message 11: by johnc (new)

johnc I mean Russian HIST0RY dissertation.


message 12: by DownTown (new)

DownTown Lady The Forbidden saga by Haru Ichiban! Steamy and tons of fun!


back to top