Now that it’s September, many of you are probably heading off to school — whether for the first time or the fourth — and even if you’re past school-age, the season does things to your heads, filling them with number 2 pencils and three hole punches and dreams of Philosophy textbooks. Or, at least, that’s all we can think about. College is an inspirational time, particularly for novelists: there is an entire genre based on the campus novel, including books about professors, students, and anyone else who spends a serious amount of time on the hallowed university grounds. In honor of the new school year, we’ve put together a list of great novels set at real-life colleges, whether explicitly stated or thinly veiled in their fictional forms. If you’re starting school this fall, you’d do well to check out what other people think of your new home and what you might expect from your next few years there, and if you’ve already finished, well, everyone likes to read about their alma mater, hopefully shouting out, ‘that’s not how it was!’ and ‘look, that’s me!’ in equal measure. Click through to see our list, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorite college novels in the comments.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Rutgers University
As far as we can tell, at Rutgers, they like to pair up roommates who are diametrically opposed to one another (Yunior and Oscar? Different in every conceivable manner). Perhaps relatedly, you’re likely to have an fairly entertaining dorm life: “Two weeks later, La Jablesse gave Oscar the coup de friendship: he walked in on her while she was ‘entertaining’ the punk, caught them both naked, probably covered with blood or something, and before she could even say, Get out, he went berserk. Called her a whore and attacked her walls, tearing down her posters and throwing her books everywhere. I found out because some whitegirl ran up and said, Excuse me, but your stupid roommate is going insane, and I had to bolt upstairs and put him in a headlock. Oscar, I hollered, calm down, calm down. Leave me the fuck alone, he shrieked, trying to stomp down on my feet. It was pretty horrible. As for punkboy, apparently dude jumped right out the window and ran all the way to George Street. Buttnaked. That was Demarest for you. Never a dull fucking moment.” Indeed.