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Old 08-13-2017, 12:15 AM   #1
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Books with an academia or schooling focus or setting

Any good recommendations on this front? I think it may be my first recommendation request thread here, but I just thought of it after finishing Lucky Jim which I really enjoyed. It can be either from the teacher's or student's point of view (or neither or both), or perhaps might focus more on researchers/scholars and the like. I would generally prefer a focus on higher eduction/academia but I also like good YA and don't mind any type of school setting. If it is younger than higher education then I prefer boarding school/select school settings but again any type can do if the book is good (I purposely left out some school descriptors that might be confusing for a bi-pondal audience, but the idea is clear enough I think).

Some of my favourite books include Brideshead Revisited and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I also enjoyed The Historian; many didn't but I think the academia atmosphere helped warm me to it. It goes without saying I suppose that I love the Harry Potter books and films, and also the first book of Pullman's trilogy, Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, and I loved the first Kingkiller book The Name of the Wind especially for the schooling, and I liked A Separate Peace. I even liked (get ready to clutch your pearls) The Da Vinci Code, again probably warmed by the (if you must, pseudo-)scholarly atmosphere. One book that disappointed me was The Secret History despite its focus. Some of my favourite films include Educating Rita, Love Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the Indiana Jones films, Chariots of Fire, Picnic at Hanging Rock, A Beautiful Mind. I also really liked Borstal Boy, Another Country, If..., the Swedish film Evil, the French film Wild Reeds, Good Will Hunting, Heathers, Election, Never Let Me Go, The Oxford Murders, The History Boys, Dead Poets Society... Well, I could probably keep going but I think you have the gist of it!

I already have Zuleika Dobson, Mister Pip, The Finishing School and The Getting of Wisdom on my tbr and I'm reading Of Human Bondage, and I guess it almost goes without saying that I'm probably aware of any book/film counterparts to any already mentioned.
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:32 AM   #2
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Two classics I'd recommend would be "Goodbye Mr Chips" by James Hilton, and "To Serve Them All My Days", by R.F. Delderfield. Both tell the story of a British schoolmaster. Both wonderful stories. Delderfield in particular is one of my favourite authors.
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Old 08-13-2017, 06:39 AM   #3
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Have you read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark?

Possession by A.S. Byatt, To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon and Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber also come to mind.
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Old 08-13-2017, 06:53 AM   #4
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Oh, and Tam Lin by Pamela Dean which is a retelling of the Scottish ballad set on a college campus.
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Old 08-13-2017, 07:01 AM   #5
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What I think of as campus fiction is a favorite genre of mine.

Somewhat along the lines of Lucky Jim, I'll start with three novels by David Lodge, Changing Places, Nice Work and Small World; two by Tom Sharpe, Porterhouse Blue and Grantchester Grind; and Evelyn Waugh's first novel, Decline and Fall.

But I have a lot more!
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Old 08-13-2017, 07:07 AM   #6
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There's also P.G. Wodehouse's wonderful series of "School" stories, all of which are available on PG. They are, in order:

1. The Pothunters
2. A Prefect's Uncle
3. Tales of St. Austin's
4. The Gold Bat
5. The Head of Kay's
6. The White Feather
7. Mike

"Mike" also introduces the character of "PSmith", and Mike and PSmith went on to feature in a series of later books by Wodehouse.

This thread has tempted me to re-read these books - it's years since I did so, and they're all wonderful stories. They portray life at an English public school* in the years prior to WWI - an event which changed life forever. "To Serve Them All My Days", by contrast, portrays the life of a schoolmaster who returns, shell-shocked, from the WWI trenches.

* "public school" in the British sense of the phrase, which is to say a private boarding school where pupils pay fees to attend.

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Old 08-13-2017, 11:49 AM   #7
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Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl is quirky and wonderful. Shirley Jackson's Hangsaman focuses on a damaged young woman off at college.

If you like suspense, several of Carol Goodman's books are set in schools in upstate New York; I've read some of the standalones, including Arcadia Falls, River Road, and The Widow's House, all of which I enjoyed.

More in the suspense genre: Michele Campbell's It's Always the Husband is set at a university, but I didn't like it. I did enjoy Joanna Goodman's The Finishing School. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson is set in high school; it was pretty good. I liked Kate White's The Sixes, about a secret campus society.

For YA suspense, you might consider several of Lois Duncan's books--Daughters of Eve, Killing Mr. Griffin, Down a Dark Hall, Gallows Hill, etc.

For humor, I recommend Max Shulman's hilarious books, especially The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.

A few more: To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite, Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, and The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter.
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Old 08-13-2017, 02:49 PM   #8
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Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night, set at Oxford. It's pretty far along in the Wimsey canon, but you wouldn't have to read all the earlier books first. Perhaps just Strong Poison, which introduces the female protagonist, if you wanted to get up to speed, but it's not necessary.
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Old 08-13-2017, 03:49 PM   #9
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Fantasy:
Caroline Stevermer: A College of Magics
Trudy Canavan: The Black Magician triology

Science Fiction:
Several of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden books take place partly in academic circles -- especially the arc starting with Fledgling.
Anne Osterlund: Academy 7

Contemporary romance:
Courtney Milan: Trade Me in part, and even more its sequel Hold Me


...oh, and I almost forgot: Sarah Rees Brennan's In Other Lands. It's really really good. Go and buy it now. It's the story of Elliot Schaefer (from our world, the grumpiest kid in magic land), Serene-Heart-In-The-Chaos-of-Battle (badass elven warrior), and Luke Sunborn (you know, the Sunborns - the golden warrior family, known in all the Borderlands).

Quote:
Elliot had “does not interact well with peers” on all his report cards.
If the teachers had been more precise, what they would have said was “does not shut up well around stupid people,” but that was teachers for you. And there were always kids who were stunned when crossed, as if they had expected that life would go their way forever.
Quote:
“Hello,” said the beautiful elven maid. “I was just thinking, and I mean no offence, but—how can any fighting force crowded with the softer sex hope to prevail in battle?”
“Huh?” said Elliot brilliantly. “The softer what?”
“I refer to men,” said the elf girl. “Naturally I was aware the Border guard admitted men, and I support men in their endeavor to prove they are equal to women, but their natures are not warlike, are they?”
Quote:
“I know about computers,” Luke claimed, which was such a lie that Elliot stared at him openmouthed.
“Really, Sunborn? No, really. All right then. Tell me about computers.”
“Well . . .” Luke said, and looked shifty about the eyes. “They’re boxes . . . but you can write things in them. And read things in them. And there are cats in them who are funny for some reason. They’re like—boxes of infinity. And! You keep the wikipedia in them!”

Last edited by hildea; 08-13-2017 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Almost forgot the best of them all.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:05 PM   #10
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Joanne Dobson's Karen Pelletier mystery series has an academic setting; Karen is an English professor and the mysteries have a literary focus.

Jill Paton Walsh wrote a few mysteries about a school nurse, Imogen Quy, at Cambridge.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:59 PM   #11
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The Peter Shandy Mystery series by Charlotte Macleod features the Balaclava Agricultural College.
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Old 08-13-2017, 07:19 PM   #12
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The Kate Fansler mystery series by Amanda Cross (Carolyn Helibrun)
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:20 PM   #13
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You might like Barbara Pym's first novel, Crampton Hodnet, set in 1930s Oxford.
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Old 08-13-2017, 08:27 PM   #14
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A Question of Upbringing, the first volume of Anthony Powell's A Dance To The Music of Time, is set mainly at an unnamed public school and then at Oxford in the aftermath of WW1.
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Old 08-14-2017, 03:24 AM   #15
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Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm would fit the bill.
Quote:
Zuleika Dobson is a brilliant Edwardian satire on Oxford life by one of English literature's most glittering wits that now reads as something much darker and more compelling. Readers new to Max Beerbohm's masterpiece, which is subtitled An Oxford Love Story, will find a diaphanous novel possessed of a delayed explosive charge that detonates today with surprising power.

Zuleika, the granddaughter of the warden of Judas College, is a female sleight-of-hand magician. She is also a femme fatale, a turn-of-the-century It girl and a minor celebrity. This fascinating young woman of extraordinary beauty arrives in Oxford, a privileged all-male academic society, and immediately devastates the student body, becoming first its icon and then its nemesis.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...00-best-novels
It was probably an influence on Evelyn Waugh's early novels and perhaps Wodehouse's Mayfair novels.

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