5 Best Books … At University

5 Best BooksCassandra of Indie Reader Houston runs the meme: “5 Best Books”. Every week, a different topic is suggested by Cassandra and participants list what they think are the 5 best book for that topic. Click HERE to see the topics for the next few weeks.

This week, the topic is Back to School.

I have a confession to make: it’s rather easy for me to find five books for the 5 Best posts every week. You see, I have a Shelfari account (it’s like Goodreads) and for each book I read, I give it some tags (e.g., crime, literary fiction, Scotland, etc.). So I check a tags that corresponds with that week’s 5 Best topic, and I choose from the books that come up.

However, I noticed I don’t have a tag for “school”. Not a problem, as I do have one for “university”. That counts too, doesn’t it?

Norwegian wood

Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiAnother confession: I marked this book as a favorite but I can’t remember very well what it’s about. So I looked up my shelfari review and it says:

Watanabe is a 19 year old student who lives on a university campus in Tokyo. Two years after a friend of his died, he meets up with the friend’s then girlfriend, Naoko. They start a friendship, but soon Naoko has to spend some time in an psychiatric institution. Watanabe wants to wait for her, but also meets another girl, Midori, who is doing the same classes as him. With her, he also starts a friendship. Midori is elusive in her own way, and Watanabe is fascinated by both women. Eventually he has to chose between them.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa GenovaA very good book about Alzheimers. The main character is Alice, a 50-year old psychology professor who starts forgetting things and becomes disoriented.

The book describes very well (as far as I can imagine) how Alice experiences the small inconviences that Alzheimers bring her at first, until the point later in the progression of the illness where she does not realise that anything is wrong with her. Also, the behavior of the people around her, like her husband, children and colleagues seemed very believable. An easy read, interesting book.


Moo by Jane Smiley

Moo by Jane SmileyThis book is about a university in Iowa. Because of its agricultural focus, it called “Moo”. We follow the activities of several people, students and staff, and their relationships.

The book is quite fun, especially if you know about academic life, it’s satirical. My only complaint is that there are many characters. This makes it difficult to remember who is who and what we read about them last time they were mentioned.

It’s a wonderful story about life at a university from the viewpoints of all people involved.


Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Doomsday Book by Connie WillisA time-travel story back to the wrong time.

Kivrin, a university researcher from 2054, goes back to the year 1320 to investigate medieval life in England. Soon, her colleagues in modern times realise something has gone wrong. Has Kivrin really ended up in 1320, or is it maybe a different year?

Kivrin, meanwhile, learns to understand the language of the people in the hamlet where she is staying. When the villagers get ill, she tries to save them. But will she be able to go back to the present time? I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was interesting, well-written, and absorbing.

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg CabotA easy, quick read about a former teenage pop-star who now works as a caretaker in a student flat. When a dead girl is found, the police think it’s just an accident. But Heather does not believe that and starts her own investigation.

The sequel (Size 14 is not Fat Either) is very similar, so this series is especially interesting when you read your first book in the series.

It’s a quick, fun read from the perspective of a university caretaker.


What books about academic life are your favorites?

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com and bookhelpline.nl. We edit books and articles for independent writers.

21 Responses to 5 Best Books … At University

  1. Joanna says:

    Great post Judith. I wouldn’t have thought about any of these books in relation to university. I love David Lodge and Robertson Davies – maybe I’ll do a post on it.

  2. Cindy says:

    I think my favourite book about university of all time is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, I just loved it!

  3. sakura says:

    Norwegian Wood is still my favourite novel by Murakami although I think I read it after I left uni. I’ve just ordered a copy of Doomsday Book which I’ve heard SO much about and am really looking forward to reading it. Time-travelling historians, what not to like, right?

  4. Marie says:

    I’m going to put forward On Beauty by Zadie Smith and White Noise by Don DeLillo.

    Both great as I remember, but It’s been a long time since I read either. I started reading Norewegian Wood a few months back, but I misplaced it and have never finished!

    • Leeswammes says:

      I found On Beauty a bit boring, Marie. It’s beautifully written but the story didn’t appeal so much. White Noise was a good book indeed. But I can’t remember the school/university setting. Well, it’s a very long time since I read it.

  5. Christian says:

    My own confession…I find top 5 lists a little difficult to do because I don’t have (haven’t even heard of) Shelfari, but maybe that will change.

    Doomsday Book sounds great – is it recent?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Christian, you definitely don’t need Shelfari to help you make these lists (I don’t think anyone else does). It’s just a helpful tool for me.

      If you read a lot, you might like to join shelfari to keep track of your books and to find other great books.

  6. I’ve heard great things about Still Alice. I hope to read it one day. I love Shelfari, it’s an awesome literary tool. I like Library Thing too.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Lena, *Still Alice* is a beautiful book, if of course a little sad (because of the subject).

      How nice that you are familiar with Shelfari. I’m judithann there, if you want to link up.

  7. Leslie says:

    How clever! Now why didn’t I think to use my tags to find books for the 5 Best each week. Doomsday Book is one of my favorite reads. I have it tagged time-travel and scifi so it would have never popped up under university… but still… I like the idea.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Leslie, I worked at universities for quite a long period of my working and study life. So for me, a story set at university is a little special and so, I tag it in Shelfari as such.

      So, now you can join every week and use the tags to help you along! 🙂

  8. Petra says:

    It would have to be The secret history by Donna Tartt. This is the best book in a university setting I have ever read. It just captures that whole atmosphere of students among each other so perfectly,

    A great book largely set in a school is Notes on a scandal by Zoë Heller.

  9. Cassandra says:

    I love your list, and I love that you shared your secret for making the lists an easy thing. I don’t have Shelfari. I do have Goodreads, but I don’t enjoy it. I hadn’t even thought of tags. And thank you so much for encouraging other participants.

    Now, I’m going to set up a page for tomorrow, though I don’t yet have my own list ready. I’m on vacation, and I just couldn’t get it done before I left 🙂

  10. Aths says:

    Currently, I’m going through a Murakami phase. I read another blogger’s praise for Norwegian Wood, so I can’t wait to check it out!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Aths, a Murakami phase, how nice! I’ve read quite a few of his books and I love them. Have fun with Norwegian Wood. It’s one of his more “normal” books.

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