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The Best Campus Novels

Though we don’t want to admit it, summer will soon be coming to an end and the long days and drowsy naps in the sun will have to come to an end. As the nights draw in and the leaves fade to brown, our thoughts turn to school and new beginnings. What better way to enjoy the return of autumn and console ourselves about the end of summer than celebrating our favourite campus novels?

The Secret Place - Tana French
A wonderful mystery set in an Irish boarding school surrounding a murder of a teenage boy, this is one of my personal favourite novels. French always nails humour with tension, and knows exactly how to get into the warped mindset of a teenage girl. 

The Virgins - Pamela Erens
Loaded with praise by everyone from The New York Times to Vanity Fair, this story of an unlikely pair of friends in a New England college is a masterclass in unreliable, unlikeable narrators. 

The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Arguably the reigning queen of the campus novel, Tartt’s modern classic details the murder of a student at a prestigious New England college. Full of musings on the relevance of the classics, elitism, and insanity, it is a masterpiece of a novel. 

Stoner - John Williams 
Originally published to little fanfare, fifty years later Stoner became an unexpected bestseller. Detailing the various failures of a university scholar, the novel portrays how a life can go astray despite all our best intentions. 

Normal People - Sally Rooney
Propelled into popularity by the wonderful TV adaptation, Rooney’s love story featuring two struggling Irish teens is full of the melancholy and frenzy of first love. It brilliantly captures the opportunity to reinvent yourself at university.

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