• The cover of the book The Secret History

    The Secret History

    The Goldfinch author Donna Tartt’s debut novel follows a group of students at an elite New England college whose collective fascination with classical history eventually leads them to commit murder. High art, class conflict, and unrequited love come together in what emerges as a strange synthesis of the campus novel and murder mystery genres.

     
  • The cover of the book Prep

    Prep

    Hard partying, heartbreak, skinny-dipping, social politics—all of it set at an exclusive boarding school in New England? Narrated by a hyper-perceptive outsider—a scholarship student from Indiana—Prep contains all the right ingredients for an immersive, voyeuristic look at elite campus life.

     
  • The cover of the book A Separate Peace

    A Separate Peace

    This classic novel, set at an American boarding school in the 1940s, tells of the friendship between two indelible characters—Phineas (“Finny”) and Gene. A story of envy, tragedy, and eventual forgiveness, the book has long been accompanied by rumors of a homoerotic context. Just how deep is the connection between the two friends? Every reader must decide for herself.

     
  • The cover of the book Lucky Jim

    Lucky Jim

    British novelist Kingsley Amis’s first and best-known novel, Lucky Jim, tells of a history lecturer at an unbespoke English college who botches, in extravagant fashion, his own desperate attempts to secure tenure. Fueled by alcohol and illicit romance, Amis’s hero emerges as a sharp-eyed critic of academic hypocrisy.

     
  • The cover of the book The Campus Trilogy

    The Campus Trilogy

    David Lodge has long been a go-to source for academic satire. His Campus Trilogy collects three novels that investigate the pitfalls and petty politics of the tenure track.

     
  • The cover of the book The Human Stain

    The Human Stain

    In Roth’s The Human Stain, an aging professor is ousted from his position after making what is deemed to be a racial slur. But a secret the man has been harboring all his life, once uncovered by a writer who takes an interest in him, renders the event, in the words of Publishers Weekly, “surreal.”

     
  • The cover of the book Stoner

    Stoner

    Recently reissued by New York Review Books, this once-obscure novel, about a textramarital affair between two college instructors, is enjoying a second life as a contemporary classic. Set in the early 20th century, the book explores the ways in which societal repression can compound the essential loneliness of human life.

     
  • The cover of the book The Rules of Attraction

    The Rules of Attraction

    This delightfully debauched campus novel sees a cadre of rich college students—and a few not-so-rich ones—wreaking havoc, on themselves and others, at a hoity-toity liberal arts college in New Hampshire. A warning reading “Do Not Try This At School” would not be out of place on its cover.

     
  • The cover of the book On Beauty

    On Beauty

    Inspired by E.M. Forester’s Howards End, this novel by White Teeth author Zadie Smith describes the experiences of a multiracial family living in Boston, where the father is a university professor. Smith infuses the campus novel framework with considerations of race, ethnicity, and privilege, both within academic life and without.