Back to School with these 4 Campus Novels

A campus novel is a book set in a school, college or university and the most popular is probably the Harry Potter series. Campus novels have always been popular amongst readers, so I thought I’d share four of them with you here.


Stoner by John Williams
My favourite campus novel by far is Stoner by John Williams. William Stoner comes from a poor farming family and attends University to study agriculture. He soon falls in love with literature and decides to put aside his plan to manage the family farm in order to become a career academic.

Stoner is a deeply honest portrait of an average man, living a lonely, underwhelming and sometimes depressing life.

However his story is told with such reverence I was completely swept away and bereft by the end.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
This is the first in the YA series of historical fiction novels to feature Gemma Doyle. Beginning in late 1890s India, Gemma is shipped off to Spence boarding school for girls in England after the death of her mother.

The school is a complete culture shock for Gemma and she finds it difficult to adjust. Gemma also finds it hard to deal with the boarding school ’mean girls’. A Great and Terrible Beauty is a gentle coming-of-age story told with well drawn characters and a touch of humour and longing.

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton
Josephine and her best friend Freya attend an elite all-girl boarding school and have an irreparable falling out in 1994. In this dual narrative, Josephine reflects on the events from her perspective 18 years later. The mystery slowly unravels as the novel works towards the ultimate reveal.

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton will appeal to readers of YA, NA and those who enjoy dissecting female friendships gone bad.

Variant by Robison Wells
Those looking for a male main character in their campus novels will love Variant by Robison Wells. In this YA thriller, Benson Fisher has been moved from foster home to foster home and is understandably excited when he receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy.

Right away Benson notices something isn’t quite right at the Academy. There are no teachers or adults on campus and the curriculum is strange. There are gangs of students in charge of various contracts at the school. Furthermore, the grounds are surrounded by a large wall patrolled by students on quad bikes. Benson wants to escape but if he’s caught he’ll be given detention. But the rumour is students don’t return from detention. How will he survive?


Will you be adding any of these to your TBR? What’s your favourite campus novel?

Published by

Tracey Allen

Tracey Allen is a passionate booklover who enjoys reading across many genres and supporting Australian authors. Her book reviews have been published in Good Reading Magazine and she is the sole author of the book blog Carpe Librum (Seize the Book). She hopes this year is jam-packed with excellent books and when she's not reading or writing she's collecting bookmarks and adding to her TBR pile.

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