Post Academic


The Best in College Novels: With Poll!

Posted in Surviving Grad School,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on September 17, 2010
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In honor of the new school year, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently assembled an exhaustive list of the best novels set in the academy. Many of these novels perpetuate the notorious academic stereotypes that we lovingly detail in the Alcoholic Horndog Tenured Professor Stereotype on Film series, but author Mike Fischer sums up why the ivory tower is such a great setting for a novel:

But even the most dedicated scholars don’t live in a library, and the disconnect between impossibly high-minded visions of the quest for knowledge and the inevitably earthy compromises of everyday life can be extremely funny and unbearably sad – in ways we all recognize from our own lives, regardless of who we are or what we do.

Instead of depicting professors as stock buffoons, a good campus novel probes what happens when an unchanging, pure ideal encounters the real world. Some professor characters handle it well, and others don’t–which leads to some killer satire.

If you just entered the academy, consider adding some of the books on Fischer’s top college novels list to your own. These books may not help you pass your exams, but they will give you an idea of how to navigate the landscape. The list appears as a poll after the jump, and we’d love to find out which college novels you like the most and whether or not you prefer the heavy dramas to the lighter satires. (For me, “Lucky Jim” is the pinnacle of all of them, followed by “White Noise.” Just sayin’)

Jump below to get to the poll!

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One Response to 'The Best in College Novels: With Poll!'

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  1. And have you ever read The Mind/Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein? Or Robert Grudin’s Book: A Novel, with its footnote rebellion? Both pretty good from what I remember. (Not much, these days.)


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