The Ultimate Back-to-School Book Kit
There is nothing quite like a tsunami of midterms to make you dream of being back home, with your favorite blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, binge watching the new season of that show you just started, as far away from studying as possible.
But amid the pressure of deadlines and the piles of discarded paper drafts, there is a charm to school life that we’ve always been fascinated with. The smell of books in the library, the random notes you find between their pages, the electricity blackouts that force us out of our rooms and into each other (sometimes quite literally), the naps at inappropriate hours of the day and the chance meetings with friends by the vending machine at 3 am… Who needs to worry about money, taxes and general adult stuff when they can write essays all day, right?
So to bring you out of your midterm depression, we at the Literature Society made you this refreshing list of books that feature some of our favorite fictional school moments.
“The Secret Life of Adrian Mole” by Sue Townsend
Because what can lift your mood better than the lamentations of an overly dramatic teenager who’s proclaimed the Iron Lady as his arch-enemy? Funny, awkward, British, set in the 80s, holds the dirty satisfaction from reading someone else’s diary – what more can we say?
‘A Separate Peace’ by John Knowles
To bring more seriousness in the picture, this novel will take you back to a prep school in World War II America. The main character, Gene, returns there 15 years after graduation to remember his old friends and reflect upon his experiences as a student. If you’re looking for a more mature choice, that’s your book.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky
This is a book that celebrates coming of age, with all of its ups and downs. Intelligent and thoughtful, it is centered on 15-year-old Charlie who’s considered a ‘wallflower’ – quiet, observant, clever. The hardships of high school life, complete with unrequited love, psychological trauma, altered states of mind, a tribute to a beloved musical that involves provocative cross-dressing, finding an identity you’re comfortable with – The Perks has it all.
‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green
From the King of young adult fiction John Green, ‘Looking for Alaska’ is a fabulous adventure of a book about the kid who didn’t quite fit in. Set in a boarding school in the American south, it will take you on a journey of self-discovery that will change you forever. Also, you might cry. A lot. This book is beautiful.
‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger
This is one of those essential books everyone assumes you’ve read. So if you haven’t – you better do it now, and if you have – it’s always a good time to reread a masterpiece, it’s only about 200 pages anyway. In brief – more prep schools, mean posh kids, a protagonist who’d fit the profile of a contemporary hipster/hater. With this in your head, you might never look at the campus the same way again.
‘Unseen Academicals’ by Terry Pratchett
If you’re one of those fantasy types who like their literature with a bit of magic in it, Terry Pratchett is here for you. Britain’s titan of humorous fantasy is giving you the perfect way to mock professors and other overly pompous academicals. Set in Ankh-Morpork’s Unseen University, the book follows a bunch of funky old wizards trying to play football. We dare you not to laugh.
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
You didn’t really think we’d forget this one, did you? This book is probably as famous as the Bible, so there isn’t anything we can say about it. Except maybe this is the perfect book to reread, as it will remind you of how wonderful it is to have magic in our lives. Ever thought of the Skapto 2 basement as Slytherin’s dungeons? You may not have gotten your Hogwarts acceptance letter, but AUBG can become instantly cooler AUBG if you give places Harry Potter names.