Top Ten Tuesday – August 13, 2013: Top Ten Favorite Books Taking Place in College


It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Books With X Setting


I’ve been craving books that take place in college since I started college… in 2005!! So basically I’ve been dying for these novels for 8 years. FINALLY we see the rise of “New Adult” fiction, but like many others, I’m not entirely happy with the genre and how it’s been sort of stereotyped as tons of sexy times. Honestly, I have no problem with the sexy times, but what I was really craving from “New Adult” was more of the college experience and more focus on college living, roommates, and living away from home for the first time.

I haven’t read most of the NA books that are out there because I just haven’t found the right ones for me yet, but here are my top choices of “Books That Take Place in/at College”!



 FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

I just recently read FANGIRL (review coming soon!) and this is exactly the kind of “New Adult”/college age book I was looking for. Rainbow Rowell did a great job of portraying the college life, especially highlighting the woes of an incoming freshman.



If you’re not familiar with it, ANATOMY OF A SINGLE GIRL is the follow up to ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND by Daria Snadowsky. Dom, now fresh out of high school and starting college, has to start adapting to the changes not only with school, but also with her family, friends, and dating life.


JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman

JUST ONE DAY is actually half the summer after high school and half Allyson’s experiences in college. I know some people who didn’t quite latch onto the book had issues with how quickly and easily Allyson fell into a depression but let me tell you, if everything is going wrong and you’re miles away from home, best friends, and family, it’s pretty easy to lose yourself. I think Gayle Forman did a great job of portraying the quirks and seriousness of possible college situations.


WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman

Whoops, another Gayle Forman book (oh, who am I kidding? Gayle dominates most of my top lists…) and again, she totally nailed it. I loved seeing Mia at Julliard and Adam out in the real world, both kind of lost without each other. You see them really start to become grown-ups and mature at a rapid rate.



Although it’s not the main focus, we do see a lot of Karou at the university/art school. I think I just appreciate the university life style because it’s more laid back and there’s a lot more freedom for the character instead of sticking to a rigid school schedule and stuck in the same halls and same walls. I feel like Karou’s story would have been vastly different if she was still in high school (not like I know what the Prague “high schools” are like, but still). I also really liked seeing her be able to focus on what she really loves and wants to do.




Okay, so technically Franny is still in high school, but the theater camp takes place at a college, so I’m counting it. It’s still got a taste of the college experience with the kids in dorms and although they’re not attending class, they’re still performing plays and learning in workshops. Franny’s also got a bit more freedom (well, kind of) by staying with her aunt and all of it is a new and exciting experience.



THE ELEMENTALS by Francesca Lia Block

I didn’t particularly care for this one because it was a little off-the-wall, but this was another book set in college. I just really appreciated all the freedom Ariel had and without it, the story would have been MUCH different.


COMMENCEMENT by J. Courtney Sullivan

I really only picked up COMMENCEMENT because it took place in college! I loved the idea of seeing these girls develop such tight friendships in college but it was really too feminist for me AND the story took a weird turn at the end. It wasn’t quite the book for me, but I really appreciated the university setting!

So that was really only seven but I have several more on my TBR list and I’m ALWAYS looking for recommendations for books that take place in/at college or university! If you have more suggestions for me, as always, please let me know!!

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday – August 13, 2013: Top Ten Favorite Books Taking Place in College

  1. Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages

    I’m impressed you came up with 7! I originally tried to do this topic but I came up with like 2 books, but you reminded me of a bunch I forgot, like Where She Went (how could I forget that?!) and Commencement (which I loved the first half of and was completely turned off from by the second half). Great list!

  2. Lauren

    This is my issue. When NA started picking up popularity, I was really excited to see stories of the university life and everything that goes along with it. As a student entering her last semester of university, I’d love a NA story on students leaving school to enter the real world. That would be great! But it’s like you said, most are just about sexy times. Which I definitely don’t mind, don’t get me wrong. I like a good sexy time every now and then, but I wish that NA wasn’t dominated by that topic. So I’ll have to take a look at some of the ones you’ve mentioned! Thanks 🙂

  3. Daphne

    i love this topic. i agree that sometimes you just want to read about college students, but not like in the NA books that are all about sex. i have a book for you, i read it a while back and loved it, so i actually just picked it up to reread, Psych Major Syndome by Alicia Thompson

  4. Nicole

    Ahh I love books set in college! Just One Day, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Where She Went are among my favorites! I can’t wait to read Fangirl and some of these others! This is a great list!

    Thanks for stopping by 😀
    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  5. Jasmine @ Flip That Page

    Aww I love your Gayle Forman picks! I am still impatiently waiting for Just One Year XD I haven’t read Fangirl, though I’ve read Eleanor and Park. Rainbow Rowell is amazing! 😀 the rest of your picks seem interesting too XD Great list 🙂

  6. Candice

    Hm… wasn’t a fan of The Elementals… but it WAS a great college book! I’m glad you included it. I wish New Adult was around when I was a New Adult… Or at least that it was more prevalent. I know 19 year old Candice would have LOVED Rainbow Rowell! 🙂

  7. Savindi @ The Streetlight Reader

    I really like the topic you chose! I haven’t seen another list about college books. I’ve heard really good things about Fangirl,so I may read it when it comes out. I’ve heard mixed things about Just One Day- I feel like Allison would be a character that would frustrate me to no end. Anatomy of a Single Girl sounds interesting. I love the name of it lol. Great List Brittany!

  8. Stormy

    Ooh, I really like the topic you chose! I’m the same way with New Adult–I have no problems with the stereotypical new adult, and I know people enjoy them, so I want THOSE NA to continue to be published, but I want more DIVERSITY in the college experiences people are writing about. I haven’t read many on your list, but to the few I have read(Trouble with Flirting, Daughter of Smoke and Bone), I give a resounding YES! And I’ll definitely keep some of the other books you highlighted in mind when I’m looking for college books. I have Just One Day sitting on my bookshelf, so I suppose i should get to that, huh? I hear only good things.


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