Plano Reads: Novels for a New School Year
5 mins read

Plano Reads: Novels for a New School Year

As a new school year gets underway, consider trying one of these titles. All are fiction favorites and campus classics!

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan – Four very different first-year students—Celia, Bree, Sally, and April—are assigned to the same Smith College dorm, and together they experience the challenges of academic life and early adulthood. Four years after graduation, they meet again for a wedding, their friendships as strong as ever, to reassess the personal and professional choices they’ve made. A radiant and tender debut novel from journalist and Smith alumna J. Courtney Sullivan. Print 

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher – This inventive novel describes the ongoing personal and professional struggles of Jason Fitger, professor of literature at a small, undistinguished Midwestern university. Written as series of letters of recommendation he is asked to provide, Dear Committee Members is a funny, heartfelt look at his tough academic year. Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, this book is satire at its very best! Print |eBook 

The Gap Year by Sarah Bird – A funny, suspenseful, insightful novel featuring uneasy mother Cam and dutiful daughter Aubrey, as Aubrey enters her final year of high school, and they both find themselves on the brink of entirely new lives. What will happen in their gap year? Print

Himawari House by Harmony Becker – Winner of the 2022 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel is ideal for adults, too. A group of expat teens in Japan become fast friends when they meet as students and residents at Tokyo’s Himawari House. Kirkus reviewers called it “an unforgettable story of personal growth in an exquisitely rendered setting” and School Library Journal praises it as a “journey of discovery will delight, educate, and challenge.” Print (Graphic Novel)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo ishiguro – A moving, suspenseful, beautifully atmospheric modern classic from the Nobel Prize winning author. As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld – Fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves Indiana to enroll at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. Surrounded by beautiful and wealthy students, Lee immediately feels like an outsider. Both repulsed and captivated by her classmates, she carves out a niche for herself. But everything falls apart when Lee’s private thoughts become public information–and she is ostracized. Print |eBook |CD Book 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Under the influence of a charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at a New England college discover a way of thought and life a world away from their banal contemporaries. But their search for the transcendent leads them down a dangerous path, beyond human constructs of morality. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

A Separate Peace by John Knowles – This American classic and bestseller, originally published in 1959, explores the complicated friendship of two boys at an elite New Hampshire prep school during the summer session of 1942. Confined by the expectations of his privileged life, and struggling to form his own adult identity, Gene can’t help but compare himself to charismatic, gifted Finny—in the most painful of ways. Years later, he recalls the school and the summer that changed him forever. Print |eBook 

Stay True by Hua Hsu – A memoir about Hua Hsu’s unlikely friendship with Ken during their years at Berkeley in the mid-1990s. While Hua Hsu was more interested in record shops and zines, Ken was living the college frat life. Still, the two became close friends and navigated college life together for 3 years, until Ken died unexpectedly. Hsu’s memoir touches on many things: self-discovery and coming-of-age during the formative college years, racial dynamics (Hsu is the son of Taiwanese immigrants while Ken descended from a Japanese-American family), and especially grief. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths – Winner of the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Novel, this spooky Gothic mystery tells the tale of Clare Cassidy, a teacher who is no stranger to murder. Specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on him every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favorite literature. And then, mysterious sentences appear in Clare’s own private diary… Print |eBook

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