The 50 Greatest Campus Novels Ever Written

No matter how old you are, the back-to-school season holds a certain kind of allure – be it nostalgia for scholarly tradition, the crisping of the days, a Pavlovian need to buy books, or just the satisfaction that you don’t have to be in class ever again. If you’re looking to indulge yourself without the schoolwork, you may take pleasure in another hallowed tradition: the campus novel. That is, books concerning the lives of students, professors, and miscellaneous academics, generally in or around a college. Here are 50 of the best of these, limited to one per author. Read them all and you’ll definitely get an A – or take another tack and amend the syllabus in the comments.


The Groves of Academe, Mary McCarthy

One of the first college novels, The Groves of Academe is still one of the best, a sharp satire that follows a Joyce expert after his teaching position is threatened, based on McCarthy’s own teaching experiences at Bard and Sarah Lawrence.