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 Post subject: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:12 pm 
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I've been feeling nostalgic lately about my old college days. Do you have any book recommendations where the story is set in a place of higher learning? It can be in any genre or fiction/non-fiction. I don't yet know what I'm looking for and what might grab my attention.

And on a quasi-related note, what do you think of Mary McCarthy's books? I have The Group and Groves of Academe but haven't started on them yet. Which reminds me, the books can be set in any time period.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:50 pm 
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I thought The Art of Fielding was really good, and it's set in a fictional small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. I went to a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:04 pm 
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^I read that!

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:06 pm 
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Secret History? Donna Tartt is overrated and it probably isn't nostalgic, but it's still pretty good if you want a mystery.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:09 pm 
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The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:04 pm 
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I enjoyed The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, set in England and a very good read.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:49 pm 
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mandycoot wrote:
I thought The Art of Fielding was really good, and it's set in a fictional small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. I went to a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin.


Haha, I didn't finish my thought so now I just sound like a weirdo! I meant to say something like, "I went to a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin, so it was kind of a nostalgic read, since some of the schools seemed to be closely based on existing schools in that athletic conference."


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:24 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
Secret History? Donna Tartt is overrated and it probably isn't nostalgic, but it's still pretty good if you want a mystery.


Hey, that is a brilliant novel and I will brook no argument!

Other suggestions:

Neal Stephenson: The Big U (a thinly-veiled satire of Boston University)
Connie Willis has a bunch of novels about time-traveling academics: To Say Nothing Of The Dog, The Doomsday Book, Fire Watch, Blackout, All Clear, and so on. They tend to take place partly in a university setting and partly in the past somewhere or other.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:30 pm 
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Sweet Tooth (Ian McEwen) is partially set at college and the time after the main character graduates. I listened to the audio version and was kind of meh about it in parts, but ended up really liking it at the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:40 pm 
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Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Marriage Plot" largely takes place at...Brown, IIRC?
Lorrie Moore, "A Gate at the Stairs" - and, come to think of it, parts of her short story collection as well, and they're even better
Paul Auster, "Invisible"


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:40 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
lavawitch wrote:
Secret History? Donna Tartt is overrated and it probably isn't nostalgic, but it's still pretty good if you want a mystery.


Hey, that is a brilliant novel and I will brook no argument!

Other suggestions:

Neal Stephenson: The Big U (a thinly-veiled satire of Boston University)
Connie Willis has a bunch of novels about time-traveling academics: To Say Nothing Of The Dog, The Doomsday Book, Fire Watch, Blackout, All Clear, and so on. They tend to take place partly in a university setting and partly in the past somewhere or other.


Unconvinced about brilliance. I think it just got so pumped up by the Bennington/American Psycho crowd and everybody ran about talking about how brilliant it was that nobody dared say otherwise. Feel free to chance my mind though and maybe I'll reread it.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:41 pm 
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My college nostalgic book would be Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels because it is set at the U Chicago Oriental Institute, where I was.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:05 pm 
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I loved A Secret History, but I read soooooo many years ago. I don't think Donna Tartt is overrated. She's fabulous.

Tom wolf wrote one about college that I tried to get through and had to abandon...can't remember the name, but stay away!


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:46 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
Unconvinced about brilliance. I think it just got so pumped up by the Bennington/American Psycho crowd and everybody ran about talking about how brilliant it was that nobody dared say otherwise. Feel free to chance my mind though and maybe I'll reread it.


I dunno about that. I appreciate but don't actually like American Psycho (if you know what I mean) and I think that if anyone is overrated it's Bret Easton Ellis...

I'm kind of too tired to do much lit crit right now, but I read The Secret History in a vacuum, totally unaware of any hype or the Bennington connection a long time ago and enjoyed it. I reread it a couple of years ago and still loved it, so it's probably actually good.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:09 am 
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If you're interested in a non-US perspective, you could check out the works by David Lodge. He wrote several campus novels. They are rather ironic though.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:15 am 
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Fool on the hill by Matt Ruff takes place in a bizzaro Cornell and I really liked it though its certainly not for everyone. On Beauty by Zadie Smith all took place in academia and I enjoyed it.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:47 am 
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Stripping Penguins Bare by Michael Carson is set at my uni in the 1960s. It's the second in a trilogy, although I'm not sure it matters as it can certainly be read alone.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:57 am 
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Mihl wrote:
If you're interested in a non-US perspective, you could check out the works by David Lodge. He wrote several campus novels. They are rather ironic though.

I love David Lodge! I read The British Museum is falling down years and years ago and then had to read all his others.

The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury is a 70's campus novel that is excellent.

And just to add my voice to the Donna Tartt debate, I thought The Secret History was brilliant, but was seriously underwhelmed by the next one, The Little Friend.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:04 am 
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What was so brilliant about SH? I'm not saying it wasn't good, but all in all, I never found it particularly memorable. Everybody always says "brilliant" but never what/why.

I guess I will have to read it again.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:19 am 
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The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, I think it was set in Princeton.
Its was released about the same time as The Da Vinci Code and is set along similar themes.

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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:18 am 
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LazySmurf wrote:
On Beauty by Zadie Smith all took place in academia and I enjoyed it.


I really liked On Beauty too! Others I thought of last night:

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (based on Carleton College, which is in the town I grew up in and where my parents both worked)

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

And some of the setting for Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is a fictional college of Oxford, but the heroine is not a student.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:15 am 
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Wonder Boys for sure. I laughed, I cringed, I briefly wished I studied creative writing rather than journalism.

I was about to write that I could not think of any other books set in college, but Chabon also wrote a book called Mysteries of Pittsburg about a recent grad still living near campus/involved with college-related folk. It is nowhere near as good as Wonder Boys, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:32 am 
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The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Hesse, Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (so damn funny), Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, A Separate Peace by John Knowles and the first half of This Side of Paradise by F. Scott F are all good reads.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:55 am 
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For some reason I thought A Separate Peace was about high school aged folks in boarding school. It's been ages since I read it, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Books set in a university/college background.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:08 am 
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Olives wrote:
For some reason I thought A Separate Peace was about high school aged folks in boarding school. It's been ages since I read it, though.


Yep, you are correct...my mistake.


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