Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School!

Today I’m joining The Broke and the Bookish to share ten recommendations that are back to school related! I did a very similar post on this topic last year for TTT, so if you were a reader a year ago, then some of this will sound very familiar. But books set in literary or academic settings are some of my favorite reads, so I have a few more to add to my original list!

back to school

I’ve been trying to figure out why I love these kinds of books. I think You’ve Got Mail just sums it up for me – I love being in a classroom and always get nostalgic for back to school shopping and book buying. I love Autumn and its colors and all of the hope it brings. So anytime I find a book that evokes those same feelings, I just fall in love! Here are my picks:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite book right now. I read it last year and can’t stop comparing it to everything else that I read! This has some settings in high schools and colleges, but it’s not necessary a “back to school” book. Even so, it’s still a very good fit for this category because of the art history ties that it has. There’s something about books focusing on art that make me wish that I went to a liberal arts college and studied painting or history, and this one is no exception! Here’s the link to my original post on this book.

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova – a very recent read for me (my thoughts are scheduled to be published later this week!), but I’m putting it in this category for the same reason I’ve added The Goldfinch. There are some scenes at a small liberal arts college and at art schools, but for the most part the love of history and art is what makes it appropriate for this category. This book will take you around the world in its effort to discover why a famous painter tried to attack a painting at The National Gallery with his pocketknife.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley – this is a part of the Flavia de Luce mystery series, so I was hesitant to add it to my list. I believe that this is a series that one should read in order, so maybe this post will inspire you to read them all! Here’s a link to my original post on this book. Flavia, a precocious and witty eleven year old girl, has been sent to a private school in Canada. She leaves her precious English estate for an all-girls school with characters as clever and funny as she is!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – another very recent read for me, but another that I couldn’t put down! Here’s a link to my post on it. I’m including it in this category because the first half of the book is set in a boarding school. This was a heartbreaking book in so many ways and Ishiguro is one of the best writers that I’ve ever read. Don’t be intimidated by some of the reviews on this one! The characters are well-drawn and relatable, making this one that sucked me in!

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Another Tartt made it into this category!  Quoted from an earlier Top Ten Tuesday that I wrote:

“Cozy college town, classical educations, and murder are my favorite themes.  This one has them all!  I’ve always wished that I majored in English Literature and novels that are set on college campuses make that desire even more intense; I want to enroll in school, buy lots of pens and notebooks, and start anew.  Oh, and it’s kind of creepy, which is a bonus!”


The Likeness by Tana French – From my LibraryThing review: “This was French’s follow up to In the Woods. It centers around Cassie Maddox, an investigator who is now working in the Domestic Violence unit in a police station in Ireland. One morning, she gets an hysterical call from her boyfriend who is asking her to come to a Murder crime scene. At the scene, she finds the body of a young woman who looks disturbingly like her and her ID says that she’s Lexie Maddison – a cover that belonged to Cassie when she worked undercover. Cassie is asked to step into “Lexie’s” life as an undercover agent to gain information about Lexie’s life and who could possibly be the killer.”

I chose this book for this category because “Lexie” is a college student living in a crumbly old house with a group of strange undergraduate students. I’ve read all of Tana French’s subsequent novels, and this one is still my favorite!


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I’ll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates – I’ve also written about this one in a previous Top 10 Tuesday.  Here’s what I said about it on LibraryThing:

“This books centers around an unnamed narrator attending a state college in New York in the 1960s. She is an intellectual but gets talked into rushing a sorority by a new friend. This young woman cannot afford the sorority, but finds herself working more and more hours in the library to help pay for all of the fees and dues in the library. She has a massive breakdown and ends up leaving the sorority, but not without experiencing significant humiliation and emotional upheaval.”

Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson – From my LibraryThing review:

“I think this is the best Atkinson I’ve read yet! Completely hilarious, with a bit of a mystery that slowly unravels and then spits out at the end. It’s set, of course, in Scotland and focuses on Effie, a young woman working on an English degree. She has some crazy friends (including Bob, the slacker boyfriend who really only sleeps and gets high, whom she’s constantly trying to figure out a way to get rid of) who are just hilarious, and an eccentric bunch of literature professors who all have tendencies to have accidents and get hurt. Effie tries to get to know her mother, who lives on a secluded island off of the coast of Scotland and seems to be running from something.

If you like stormy nights on a secluded island, reading about literature students, and hilarious writing – then check this one out!!”

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark – Here’s what I said on LibraryThing:

“I discovered this one from the Girlybooks community here at LT. It’s set in the 1930s at a girl’s school around a group of young women described as ‘Brodie’s set.’ Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at the school who believes, obviously, that she is in her prime. She teaches the girls what she thinks is really important: how to take care of their faces, their hands, and about Miss Brodie’s love life.

This is a quick book, it can easily be read on a rainy Saturday (as today was) and is laugh out loud funny in places. I would definitely recommend.”

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris – From LibraryThing:

“This story takes us into the hallowed halls of St. Oswalds – a private boys school that is stately, old, and steeped in tradition. A tragic incident in the past causes a new teacher to seek revenge. And boy, is the revenge serious. It starts out simply: missing pens and tea mugs. And then it becomes more and more serious as the story evolves.”

I can’t wait to read everyone else’s back o school recommendations! Have you read any of these? Any specific recommendations for the books that I’ve chosen?


4 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School!

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  1. Oh this is a fun one! Some of mine are: Jane Eyre!, Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Anne of Avonlea, A Seperate Peace by John Knowles, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I can’t wait to read the Goldfinch!!!!!


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