Alternative reading list: top 10 university books

The best academia-set tales, featuring David Lodge, Dorothy L Sayers, Tom Wolfe and Donna Tartt

Alternative reading list: top 10 university books

Donna Tartt – The Secret History

A group of insular, aggressively academic students do something terrible – and then have to do something even more terrible to cover it up.

Michael Chabon – Wonder Boys

Once a wunderkind novelist, Grady Tripp is now an over-sexed, pot-bellied, pot-smoking creative writing teacher working on Wonder Boys, a 2000-page novel he’ll never finish.

Jane Smiley – Moo

This satire on uni life is set deep in the wheatfields of the American Midwest.

Francine Prose – Blue Angel

Pierced, tattooed student Angela seems to be the perfect muse for bored creative writing teacher Swenson – but is Angela as innocent as she seems?

Tom Wolfe – I Am Charlotte Simmons

Sheltered country girl Charlotte discovers, to her disappointment, that uni is as much about sex, smoking, and knocking back shots as it is about academic achievement.

Morgan McCarthy – The Outline of Love

Persephone is glad to leave her Scottish highlands home for university, and soon becomes obsessed with the talented and mysterious Leo.

Dorothy L Sayers – Gaudy Night

Oxford University, 1935, soon before the raucous ‘gaudy night’ celebrations – and something sinister is afoot.

David Lodge – Thinks …

A battle between widowed novelist Helen and philandering scholar Ralph, written via a mix of his attempts to tape-record random thoughts and the writing assignments of her students.

F Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise

According to legend, Fitzgerald wrote this novel to win back his fiancée Zelda. The book features love affairs, collapsed family fortunes, lawsuits, and a young man’s eventual downfall.

Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited

Beautiful prose, religious debate, and one of the greatest bromances ever written.


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