Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Set On Campus

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! This week's topic is books in X setting (X being whatever you want it to be). What floated into my mind immediately, with summer starting to wind down, was books set on campus. I'm going to cheat a little here: not all of these books are entirely set on a campus, but all of them have at least portions that take place there.

The Marriage Plot: This book tells the story of three students at Brown in the 70s, moving Jeffrey Eugenides's autobiographical focus from his Detroit childhood to his college education. This book follows the journey three characters as they navigate both campus and post-graduation life, and is honestly my least favorite of his three novels even though it's still pretty good (I really want him to come out with a new one).

The Secret History: This is probably my favorite campus novel and one of my favorite books overall. It's about a group of Classics majors at small liberal arts school Hampden College (usually assumed to be based on Bennington, Tartt's own alma mater) who you find out commit a murder right at the beginning. The mystery is the why, and the way the book unravels it is SO GOOD.

The Group: Most of the action in this novel takes place post-graduation, but flashbacks take us back to Vassar during the days that the girls who make up the titular group were in college.

Private Citizens: Again a book that takes place mostly after school but the events that transpired at school (in this case, Stanford, which was my dream school when I was applying and from which I was rejected) are recounted at length and are an important part of the narrative.

Lords of Discipline: I just finished this incredible book, about a cadet at a thinly-disguised version of The Citadel, and even though I didn't have high expectations going in I loved it.

The Namesake: While Yale is only a small part of the overall narrative here, it's an important part of Gogol's life. It's at college that he finally sheds his hated birth name and begins going by Nikhil, symbolizing his attempts to shed the identity his parents tried to create for him.

Lucky: I read this book, a memoir of sexual assault and its aftermath while Alice Sebold (who also wrote The Lovely Bones), during my own college years. While Sebold's experience is the less-common-on-campus "stranger rape", the struggle she went through to have her rapist prosecuted is still harrowing and really opened my eyes to how the justice system "works" in these kinds of cases.

The Golden Compass: And moving into the fantasy campuses, this novel is set at least in part in a parallel version of the University of Oxford. Lyra Belacqua, the heroine of the book and the rest of the series that follows it, is a headstrong preteen growing up among the scholars who populate the college.

Wicked: Another fictional school, this take-off on the Wizard of Oz features the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, as roommates at Shiz University. It's really a wonderful book and the musical is pretty awesome too!

Harry Potter: And it's not a college campus, but the campus of Hogwarts is still one I desperately want to visit (I've got a trip to the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando with my best friends coming up and I CAN'T WAIT)!


  1. The Group and Lord's of Discipline are among my favorites!

    1. Lords of Discipline blew my mind with how good it was...I can't wait to dive into the rest of Conroy's writing!