Campus Novels You Should Read This Fall

Campus Novels You Should Read This Fall

Photo by Emily Karakis on Unsplash

In this episode, Nicole and Gayle share their book recommendations. The topic in common is the plot set on a University campus. These novels feel close to the readers as many of us can relate to many elements of a typical campus novel. Listen to get some ideas on what book to choose for your back-to-school season!

As always you can find below the whole booklist they run through during the episode:

Counterfeit by Kirsten Chen | Amazon | Bookshop

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens | Amazon | Bookshop

Normal People by Sally Rooney | Amazon | Bookshop

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell | Amazon | Bookshop

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld | Amazon | Bookshop

The Likeness by Tana French | Amazon | Bookshop

Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughn | Amazon | Bookshop

Complicit by Winnie M. Li | Amazon | Bookshop

Green by Sam Graham-Felson | Amaz |onBookshop

We Do What We Do In The Dark by Michelle Hart | Amazon | Bookshop

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado | Amazon | Bookshop

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker | Amazon | Bookshop

The Others Gold by Elizabeth Ames | Amazon | Bookshop

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian | Amazon | Bookshop

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz | Amazon | Bookshop

*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support.


[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to another edition of the readerly report today, Gayle and I are going to be discussing campus novels. Like we have a couple that we have our eye on, that came out maybe in the last year are coming up in the next few months. And then we have some favorites of ours. And with this, I know I have to be careful and try not to talk about the ones that I love the best, cuz I’d want fresh names.

So Gayle, how has the reading life been treating you? Are you out of your slump?

[00:00:26] Gayle:  I did finish a book. Yes. I’m kind of excited. Oh yeah. So which one I read Counterfeit.

Nicole: Oh my gosh. You finished.

Gayle: Yeah. Which I think you’re also reading, right? 

[00:00:35] Nicole: I am. I that’s why I’m laughing. Cuz I had text you and I was like, oh, I’m listening to that.

So I’m listening and listening very slowly, but is it worth my while? I

[00:00:43] Gayle: think so. Yeah. I just, I finished it this weekend. I listened to it, but then I also sort of layered in some reading as well. I mean, it’s not a very long book. It’s like under 300 page and it’s easy reading. Yeah. Yeah. Some I will be excited when you finish it to talk about it with you.

There were some, you know, some things about it that I kind of wanna discuss with someone. Oh, okay. Yeah.

[00:01:01] Nicole: How far along are you? Not very far. I think the detective has just shown up at her house and was trying to like ask her questions and I’m realizing that this is happening, like in flashback.

[00:01:10] Gayle: Got. So for those of you who don’t know what this book is, it’s called counterfeit by Kirsten Chen.

And it is about two friends from college who have been out of touch for a long time. And then one of them resurfaces and it gets the other one involved in a counterfeit luxury handbag scheme. and I think that’s all I need to say about it. Mm-hmm okay. It’s kind of fun. I thought it was a fun book and it got me outta my slump.

Most importantly, I’m out of the slump. What do you think it was

[00:01:37] Nicole: about this book that did it for people who are looking for a slump tips? yeah,

[00:01:42] Gayle: very readable. I thought it was super interesting plot. This whole counterfeit bag thing audio’s been working for me. So the fact that I did it on audio didn’t hurt and I liked it.

And it’s not that. So it wasn’t like a big daunting, like, oh God, I’ve gotta commit to this big, long book.

[00:01:56] Nicole: Right. It was just kind of like fun and fast entertaining. And before, you know what is done.

[00:02:01] Gayle: Yeah. I posted on my Facebook that I was in a reading slump and it was interesting that a lot of people commented and said, they’re similarly in reading slumps or that they’ve been in slumps for a long time.

And you know, some people think it’s been the pandemic. I mean, I know that’s. Yeah. So it’s just certainly a, a, a bigger problem for a lot of people than just us. Yeah. I mean like

[00:02:22] Nicole: trauma and I mean, it’s been like trauma in the news, trauma and politics. There’s wars going on. I just think it just affects with your like both concentration and memory.

yeah, for sure. I definitely have had to switch it up like every now and then, like, I I’m slowly making my way through a shorter book, but it, it is paired with a thriller or something. That’s keeping my attention. And even those, I feel like maybe I don’t get to as much as I would want.

[00:02:48] Gayle: I think counterfeit is pretty plot driven.

It’s I guess I’d call it literary fiction and the way it’s told sort of through flashbacks and this, like, somebody’s making a confession to a detective. It’s not like a thriller, but it has elements of thrillers in it. And that there’s this kind of this scheme going on and they’re getting like further embroiled and what’s gonna happen.

There’s some suspense. I think that that helps. I think it’s thrillery,

[00:03:09] Nicole: I mean, anytime a middle class woman with a child and a loving husband is kind of involved in a police investigation. You wonder like what is going on here. Right, right. But I do feel a topic coming on, like books that are compelling enough to get you out of a slump will have to think of some, to share with.

Right. Or that have gotten us out of previous slumps. If you remember those books. All right. So you finished counterfeit and what did you start reading? And did you introduce a new blow

[00:03:34] Gayle: dry book? I did not do a new blow dry book. There’s a real simple sitting on my counter that I’ve been reading. And, or I was doing counterfeit.

So I still have the missing treasures of Amy Ashton in print, which I need to get back to. I I’m gonna give it another little try if that doesn’t click. I may just return that to library and move on. I did get our next book club book. Can’t look away from the library. So that is gonna be teed up pretty soon.

That’s the Carol Lovering book that Nicole and I are gonna read for. Readerly report book club. And I ordered a book on Amazon, which, you know, I almost never do like actually just go buy a book and I did Amazon cuz literally I couldn’t find it at multiple bookstores. Ooh, that’s intriguing. Yeah. And I think I mentioned this to one to you.

Is this the one about the woman whose husband dies? And she was going to it’s a memoir and it’s they were gonna get divorced. So they had like kind of a difficult marriage, but then he got, was terminally ill. So they stayed together. It’s called all of this and the, this is the one that’s Rebecca Wolf.

And I think I mentioned she was a, a blogger that I had followed a long time ago. Oh yeah. Yeah. So that one, I now have, I now own it because I literally couldn’t find it anywhere. And I also have the audio, so I might do that one on. She’s

[00:04:47] Nicole: not reading it. You had said, is she reading

[00:04:49] Gayle: it? I think she might be reading it.

Oh, it was the one, I think I mentioned another memo memoir. It’s another one. This is not a video memoir by Abby Morgan where she did not do the audio. So I think in this one, she does do the audio. So those are my reading plans. How about you?

[00:05:01] Nicole: Okay. So I think that when we spoke last week, I had not finished complicit by Winnie Emily.

So. Finish complicit by Winnie I Lee, it builds itself as a story. That’s about the me too era. It’s about this young Asian woman who I think she goes to Columbia and she has loved film all her life. And so she takes a shot and she applies for an ad for a job. She becomes a producer and she’s embroiled in this life.

And this is told in flashback when she’s looking back on her life. She’s now been teaching at a nondescript school out in Brooklyn. And she’s teaching like script writing and, and like introductory film courses. So you know that at once she was like on the track to do something. With being a producer and was involved in films, but we flash, you know, 10 years from that time, she obviously has not been successful.

And a New York times reporter approaches her because he is, is working on a big story. Me too story involving, which will probably involve an actress, like a whole high profile actress that she worked with on one of the first films that she worked in 10 years ago. And. It builds itself, like as a, a me too kind of tale with, you know, like what is her culpability and responsibility for being a producer on these sets?

And what did she see and what did was permissible? That a lot of that part doesn’t come later in the book. And I also feel like it’s a little nebulous in terms of her responsibility. So hopefully I haven’t said too much, but I think it’s just. Fair to say that it’s a quieter coming of age story about like this young Chinese woman whose family is not from, you know, not from privilege came here to this country, started a restaurant out in flushing.

So she doesn’t have the pedigree that she feels like a lot of people in the industry has. This is her first job. She’s really naive. So it’s like, They do, it does touch on the me too stuff and culpability, but a lot of it is like coming of age and working in a male dominated industry and being like really young and under pressure and trying to do the right thing.

So I guess what I wanna say is that is definitely a worthwhile novel to read, but it’s a lot quieter. I feel like than the descriptions would say it is. Hmm. Okay. And so what am I reading right now? I started the book club book. So that’s what I’m reading, right. Don’t look, is it don’t look away. Cover a love ring.

Can’t look away. Can’t look away. Oh yeah. It’s very early pages of that, but she’s written nothing but compulsive novels. So I’m sure that I will be able to get into that. And then, then I’m also reading. I think it’s called a memoir of a token black girl by Danielle Prescott. Huh. It’s a book that I mentioned last week.

Just about this woman’s upbringing, I guess she probably grew up, she has eighties references in the book. So just about her growing up and mostly all white neighborhoods and like with that kind of upbringing and how she feels that that affected her so far, it’s really good. You know, like really easy to read.

Definitely a lot of things. Either I’ve noticed or are somewhat relatable. So I’m looking forward, like I’ve read like four chapters. So I’m looking forward to reading more of that. We’re both

[00:08:10] Gayle: at

[00:08:10] Nicole: least got books in the queue. yeah, we do. I think good reads tells me that I am two books behind as opposed to like the 10 and the 12.

I did lower, like the amount of books that I wanted. To read this year, but even after I had lowered it, I was still so far behind, you know, two books. It feels like I’m almost feels like being caught up. I’m sure I’ll catch up

[00:08:29] Gayle: by the end of this week. Yeah, that’s good. I’m still with the completion of counterfeit.

I may be five, five or four, but yeah, behind I

[00:08:37] Nicole: just behind. Yeah. See, you’re still trying to read 60, right? Trying


[00:08:40] Gayle: get to. Oh, you’re trying. Oh, Gale. Yeah. Well I know, but it, it’s not it’s not

[00:08:45] Nicole: gonna happen now. You’re only five books behind. You’re gonna make that up somewhere. I that’s

[00:08:49] Gayle: what I’ve been saying since like March, I don’t know.

I’ll find you

[00:08:52] Nicole: some short books.

[00:08:53] Gayle: yeah. I need some super short books. So we have to do a demo show.

[00:08:57] Nicole: Yeah. As well as books to get you out of a reading slump and let me make of this. Yeah. That’ll

[00:09:03] Gayle: help. Yeah. So we see you need some

[00:09:04] Nicole: Marcy D Mansky.

[00:09:06] Gayle: Oh, I, there is any Marcy mans.

[00:09:08] Nicole: I feel like her books are always like between 160 and 200 pages.

Yeah. Yeah. I do need some, I know last time that we had talked about the changes to good reads. Yeah. Yeah. I guess they just like really made everything bigger

[00:09:21] Gayle: and really only the, the main book description page, like, right. It’s a very cosmetic, yeah. It doesn’t seem like they did much with functionality.

They just made, like, if you look up a book title, or it’s like, if you go to the homepage, you get a bigger. But then once you start digging in, it’s really no different, I think the

[00:09:39] Nicole: main thing that they did and we talked about it when they did it at the time, was the taking away that you don’t get those blasts about.

Oh, whoever so, and so recommended that you read this. I don’t think they do those

[00:09:49] Gayle: anymore. Yeah. If you click on an actual book name, it’s just bigger to read. I mean, good reads. I think we’ve talked about this. They have not invested in their like user experience in a really long time. So it’s. Marginally helpful, looks a little more updated and kind of more in keeping with sort of other websites.

But again, it’s not really, it’s like a, an an inch deep change. It’s really not much. Yeah.

[00:10:11] Nicole: I think cosmetic is right. It looks like everything. Some things like the buy links were kind of buried under the description and now they are, you know, the book is, is flushed to the left. And then it has like this big section where you can say, if you’re currently reading or if you.

If it’s red or whatever, and you can rate it just with a star rating. And then it also has the buy links, which the first one they show is Kindle. Like it used to kind of go across the page under the description. So you would see the different options you have, but now that’s part of a dropdown and then they did make the readers also enjoyed is huge.

[00:10:47] Gayle: Right. I wonder if that’s all like real estate that’s for sale or something like, did they, have they changed their sponsorship rates or something? I mean, who knows? Yeah.

[00:10:57] Nicole: I mean, I think it does make it like a lot more clearer to get clicks on that page. So I’m sure that, you know, it’s easiest to track who clicks on these huge links and then who decides they wanna buy from them?

Yeah. Yeah. But other than that, like it being cleaner and everything being bigger.

[00:11:16] Gayle: let me ask you a question. It seems like every six months or so, some other website pops up that is trying to compete with good reads and it always has the same goal, connecting readers, form and community around books. You know, better recommendations.

And sometimes I join them and sometimes I don’t and like I’ve never once returned to any one of those sites after joining, like I’ve never been drawn in or seen a reason to stop using good reads, which I, you know, and, and people use good reads for different reasons. I use good reads mostly just to sort of keep track of what I’ve read.

I cut and paste my blog reviews into good. The main reason I go to it is just to see what other people thought of books that I’m interested in. Or once I finish a book to see if I agree with what most other people think. So I, I use it as kind of a passive or yeah. Like it’s not a place I go in to do a lot of engagement.

I just go, I see what other people have. thought, and then I sort of post my review and that’s that. And so these other communities, which are promising much more like engagement and interaction, and they’re not owned by Amazon and blah, blah, blah, a, have you been tempted to check any of those out and B from your understanding or any of them succeeding?

[00:12:24] Nicole: It’s hard for me to answer that question because I’m kind of like you like, oh, there’s this new thing. There’s one. I think that I signed up for. And then like, did you ever go back? I think I might have tried to go back a couple of times and. Interact or see what was going on. I mean, look, I think that once you get the scale of good reads, like, I mean, that is the advantage of being the first, right?

Right. It’s like Facebook, I don’t know if Facebook is, is that way as much, cuz I’ve successfully just, I don’t think I’ve signed into Facebook in like four years. I don’t even know if I have an account anymore, but when you’re the first it’s just really hard because like, you might have a certain subsection of your friends who for whatever reason are trying out different things.

but it’s not enough. Like it’s still good reads is the thing that you have the most, what you’re looking for. So I think it’s just kind of like really difficult. I think the only thing that’s really competed with good reads would probably be Instagram

[00:13:17] Gayle: as far as book

[00:13:18] Nicole: community. Yeah. Just like having enough critical mass of people who can be on there and follow it and make it worthwhile to participate in if you want to.

Right. But all these other little offshoots, it’s just kinda like, you may check them out a couple of times or whatever, but I mean, too, it really just depends. I feel like either you’re a student, I mean, . I just feel like it’s really difficult too, if you’re actively engaging with other things so that you don’t have the focus to invest in this, you know what I mean?

Right. So I, I guess I just don’t think that the two of us in particular, like we both have demanding jobs, you have kids as well. So it’s just like, we have the thing that we use or whatever. You probably keep track of your bookish friends, either through blogs or Instagram, right. That you really don’t have to invest in these other things.

[00:14:04] Gayle: But what I don’t do on Instagram is, and I, I probably should, but I never go on Instagram, searching for views on a particular. I never say like, oh, let’s go check out the counterfeit hashtag on Instagram. And if you did

[00:14:19] Nicole: that or like counterfeit reviews or book. Yeah.

[00:14:23] Gayle: I don’t do that.

[00:14:24] Nicole: Right. So then if you started doing that, I mean, I think it’s because you’re just so used to doing it with good reads, right?

[00:14:30] Gayle: I think that’s right. The other platform that is giving all of these, a little bit of a run for their money too, is book talk. If you follow the book talk hashtag on TikTok, there’s a lot of stuff there. I actually used to post on, on TikTok about doing book stuff and it just, it was two time consuming and I stopped, but I kind of flirt with the idea of resuming.

If I could just be more like F with TikTok, like I just found it took forever for me to edit. I’m just, it’s not, it’s not. Very intuitive, but there is good stuff on there. Like there’s people I find and, you know, they’re posting fun videos about stuff. There was one that made me laugh that I saw yesterday.

And so the question was like, What is one book that if somebody recommends it, you know, not to trust their taste in books and she just posted a picture. She like, sort of like sticks her finger up in the air, like to point at an image, which is which appears. And it is where the CRADA this made me laugh.

[00:15:27] Nicole: Interesting. Yeah. Well, I wouldn’t dis well, I don’t know. I have very mixed feelings on CRA dads. Like I, it started off promisingly in the middle. It hit a spot where it’s just like, all right, really stereotypical black characters. And then it was just super neatly tied up. And I don’t know. And then the whole other controversies surrounding her was just

Oh yeah. Kind of, kind of bad too, that she wrote so closely about a murder that she was involved in. If you read one article, they’re just like the guy who killed this African poacher or something was her son. There’s just like a lot of stuff. Is the movie actually out in theaters? Like that was one thing that I was tracking the movie and I knew it came out and then I could just completely forgot

[00:16:13] Gayle: about it.

That’s a great question. I think it is. Yes. I think it is out. Cuz I know someone who saw it I think they said it was good. Did they said it was good. Yeah. I’m trying to remember now if they liked. I don’t even remember. I don’t know what the reviews are like. I’m gonna go and rotten tomatoes right now.

I’m kind of curious. I would be excited to maybe see that like streaming at home. I don’t think I’d like plan a night around it at, at a theater where the KDOT scene. Okay. So

[00:16:38] Nicole: I think it would be one of those things that you might just, oh, let me see what

[00:16:41] Gayle: it’s like. audience score is in 96% with popcorn.

Does that mean it’s that people like it? Yeah. Sounds like it. Yeah. Critics, what is a tomato meter? I think that’s oh, they’s based on reviews. Right? Right, right. That’s how they, okay. That’s 33%. So that’s a lot lower. Oh,

[00:16:59] Nicole: that doesn’t sound good. Rotten tomatoes.

[00:17:01] Gayle: Yeah. Yeah. Critics consensus, Daisy Edgar Jones give it, gives it her all, but where the crowd ad sing is ultimately unable to distill its source material into a tonally coherent drama.

then audience says a particular treat for viewers who love the book. It offers a faithfully told well-acted story in a rich, beautifully filmed setting. Hmm. Yeah.

[00:17:19] Nicole: Well, I mean, I guess the thing with critics is, is in terms of sales, it’s not up to them. It’s up to the people,

[00:17:26] Gayle: right. And the people have decided to the tune of 87.6 million.

Okay. So certainly

[00:17:34] Nicole: not a flop. No. Yeah, no. It seems like things are doing like 18 to 20 million in the theaters now, so yeah. And I think it came out in September, so yeah.

[00:17:44] Gayle: not too bad. all right. All right. Would you wanna talk about campus books? You have anything else we were gonna cover? Yeah, I think we

[00:17:51] Nicole: should talk about campus books.

So I wanted to ask you, what do you think is the appeal of campus novels?

[00:17:56] Gayle: That is a great question. And I think there are two things about it that make campus novels really appealing. The first is that they take place usually during very pivotal change, heavy and growth, encouraging years of character’s lives.

So they can put them in situations where they’re alone for the first time where they may be feeling insecure because they’re around new people or feeling like maybe it’s a super challenging environment. You know, they are growing, learning, maybe testing out new identities. And so it’s just an interesting time to catch people as opposed to.

In their, you know, late forties or something. And then secondly, because it’s a closed environment, it creates all kinds of opportunity for engagement and drama and artificially charged environments. I was

[00:18:51] Nicole: gonna say the same thing in terms of it being a. A close environment, I guess, or I was gonna frame it as to it’s something that everyone has feelings about or interaction with.

Like at some point, you know, someone is in school, maybe you were in school and you dropped out or you always wanted to go to school, or you’re a towny who has interactions with the school. And it’s a closed environment that just introduces such a crosswalk or, you know, just like cross section of people.

You know, from the people who are maintaining the schools, the teachers, the faculty, you know, the staff students, parents. So it’s like people who. There’s lots of tension that can be drawn into there. You know, two teachers versus students, administration versus students or parents, or, you know, against an outside element that’s dangerous to the school or the friction of keeping something inside the closed walls of the school.


[00:19:46] Gayle: Right. That’s like a good thought construct where like things are secret or they have to stay within.

[00:19:52] Nicole: And I also think that, you know, a lot of times. It used to be with cell phones C. Now that I think about, if you’re trying to control the environment that you’re in or what you’re talking about, like, even if you wanted to do something modern, you have more of the opportunity to control it in a way to say, oh, the school was totally locked down and be tested.

So you, everyone, so you let them run free. Or we don’t allow cell phones at our school or something that you can like. Not have all of the modernity necessarily impact the environment, you know, there’s ways around it. It’s more flexible. Right. All right. So I think we each chose a couple of ones that are newer to us that came out this year, and then we have our staples that we’ve really enjoy.

So well, I

[00:20:48] Gayle: don’t actually have that many staples that came out. No, I have more staples than I have recent staples. Okay. What I did was I kind of looked back on like the universe of books. I read some are more recent than others, and I kind of picked the ones that just jump out at me that like really epitomize are just the ones I enjoyed the most.

But then I have another, like maybe 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, sort of like, like honorable mention.

[00:21:09] Nicole: That you’ll just basically tell us the titles.

[00:21:13] Gayle: Yeah. I read a little bit about them and you know, what, what I liked about them, but they’re definitely, I won’t talk about them nearly as long as the other ones. Okay.

Does that work? Yeah. The ones that I’ve mentioned that are my favorites. I have definitely talked about here before. So I know my favorite ones. Any surprise? Yes. I mean, how come we not

[00:21:32] Nicole: right. You know? Well, those I’m just gonna like really mention briefly because I mean, my God, if you have not taken my advice and read the books over the.

However many years we’ve been recording this podcast at this point. That’s

[00:21:44] Gayle: a good point. All right. Well, why don’t you kick us off? Tell me which ones are you? Are you highlighting? All

[00:21:49] Nicole: right. So coming out, there’s this book called the deceptions by Jill beloki actually, it came out on September 6th, so it’s all out.

and it is about, it’s an unnamed narrator. She has like empty nest syndrome. Her child has just left to go to college. Her marriage is having issues with it. She is, she’s a teacher, but she’s also about to release a book of poems. So she has got a lot going on. And in the midst of all of this, you know, she teaches at a boy’s prep school, just like secrets and revelations come to light.

It’s supposed to be a seductively, told exploration of female sexuality and ambition, as well as a human drama that dares to test the stories we tell ourselves I’m always interested. Of course, like we’ve got the writing aspect, she’s writing poetry, she’s teaching at a prep school. There is art mentioned.

I think that’s another thing about campus novels or anything that’s adjacent or about a teacher or anything like that is that there’s so many topics of interest that can. Introduced, you know, like you have the bigger world of the school, but you may have the teacher who’s focused on mythology or whatever.

There’s something that you can bring in. Usually there is some form of sexual tension between someone. This book just came out, like I said, September 6th. So this is one of the newer ones. I haven’t read it, but I’m looking forward to reading it.

[00:23:08] Gayle: I read a book by her before which one was. It’s about her sister’s suicide.

I was about

[00:23:13] Nicole: to say she wrote she’s a, she’s known for her memoirs,

[00:23:17] Gayle: I think. Yeah. She wrote a memoir about her sister dying and I don’t remember much about it. I know I read it cuz I remember the name and I can’t remember like what I thought of it. I’m gonna, I’m actually just looking at my review right now to see if maybe that’ll jog your memory, jog my memory history of a suicide.

Read it in 2011. So it’s been a long time ago. It’s understanding why her sister died delving into their kind of their family history to figure out, you know, what might have led her to do this. I said, the chapters are short and bounce around between memoir memories, theories, literature, excerpts, and discussions of her own morning process and how much she misses her sister.

And then she’s, you know, there’s lots of, sort of complex emotions that she’s feeling. I said, I did find it to be a powerful book, but it wasn’t one that I had trouble putting down and leaving for a few days. So. Okay. That’s what I wrote about that one.

[00:24:09] Nicole: So you’re a little indifferent.

[00:24:13] Gayle: Yeah. Okay. Well

[00:24:16] Nicole: hopefully her fiction’s better.

[00:24:18] Gayle: yeah. Well, I think she’s a good writer, so maybe it’ll be really good. My first book that I just wanted to mention. A campus novel. I really liked. And I’m laughing because it’s reminding me of the CRA DA’s book because of the movie, which has the actress in it, who is in normal people. So I was gonna talk about normal people by Sally Rooney.

I had that on my list as well. Yeah. What’s interesting about normal people. Is it actually straddles two campuses? So you’ve got high school and college, same characters in both places. and I really like this one. It is about a man and woman who sort of get involved in high school when she is very awkward and he is popular and then they.

End up at the same college or they end up crossing paths in college and their roles kind of reverse. And she sort of comes into her own and becomes more confident and finds friends. And he is kind of adrift. It’s just about their relationship over time. And I, what I loved about that book. and found to be a real departure from the first book I read by her, which was conversations with friends was that I just felt like it was so realistic.

Just the interactions they had. It felt very messy and inconsistent, but that’s kind of true to life. And I thought that she captured the kind of those early adult years really well, where you’re kind of trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. And there’s a lot of loneliness and a lot of searching for like connection and identity.

Like I just thought she nailed that really. so that was turned into a really popular mini series, which stars, the same woman who is the star of where the CRADA sing. I thought the mini series was really good. Forgot what it was on Hulu.

[00:25:59] Nicole: Yes. I think conversation with friends is on there too. Isn’t it?

Possibly. Yeah. Yeah, it is. I know you

[00:26:05] Gayle: like that. Less the book. Yes. I definitely like that. Les. I liked normal people much more. Okay. And I really like. So that was one of my favorite books of the year. When I read it for me, it’s like a perfect example of a campus

[00:26:21] Nicole: novel. Are you gonna read her latest or did you read her latest?

What is it? Beautiful world. Where are you?

[00:26:28] Gayle: Oh yeah, I don’t know. It got such mixed reviews. I have it Uhhuh, it’s sitting upstairs and I just heard it was super talky. It was just like, oh, these emails that women are exchanging back and forth, talking about ideas and philosophy. And that does not usually appeal to me.

Okay. So I don’t know. Are you gonna read it? I don’t know.

[00:26:50] Nicole: I mean, I liked, I really did like normal people. I think it was super angsty and probably almost too accurate a description of what these relationships can be like when you’re young Uhhuh . So I really liked it and appreciated it, but I didn’t love it.

So I’m not sure. Okay. She’s not yet a yes. I must read her next book person for me. She’s definitely

[00:27:12] Gayle: polarizing, like some people really love her stuff and some people. Like it’s, you know, and people seem to have really strong feelings either way, like it’s, it’s rare that people are like, oh, it’s okay.

[00:27:26] Nicole: yeah, I guess I’m that rare?

Yeah, it was, it was good. I mean, there’s certain things that you can’t argue with, but at the same time, it’s kind of like tell me lies by Corolla Lovering, and that can be my next campus novel. This is the one I talked about briefly last week, because it’s now serious adaptation on Hulu. And I said, I’m not sure if I can watch it because the relationship, I mean, it’s accurate.

My God it’s accurate, but it is so toxic. Yeah. You see that she is just gonna, you know, you can’t escape a toxic relationship until I don’t know. You hit your rock bottom. You’re really done with it. And you just know that this girl is not, and she’s just at a really formative time in her life where she’s missing out on so much stuff, because she wants to just kinda like hang around for this guy and see what’s gonna happen.

And he’s in another relationship and it’s just like, this really messed up relationship. Yeah. It’s told, it’s also told in flashback where she is. I think she’s going to a friend’s wedding and he is going to be there and. , I can’t remember what it was like in the actual book. I know I watched the first episode of the Hulu show and she purposely leaves her current boyfriend home so that she can attend this alone, you know, I guess, presumably to see him.

So, you know, the tension of the book is, has she, you know, has been four years since she’s seen him, has she finally kicked the habit and let it go? Is what’s driving it. It’s just like, are you gonna be able to go to this wedding and not fall back into his clutches? You know? And the flashback of course is just everything that she went through in this four or five year, four years of college.

And then I think they briefly show like their first one or two years out of school before she’s finally, I don’t know, willing to make some changes. And even then it’s not because she wants to. So, so that’s college book number. Too from me, if you can deal with the, you know, the toxic relationship, sometimes I’m just like, you know, I can’t

[00:29:31] Gayle: yeah.

Sometimes it’s very off putting, sometimes you get really engrossed in it. Yeah.

[00:29:35] Nicole: I think it was both, it was engrossed, but so off putting and just like, oh, like, please get your life together. Right.

[00:29:44] Gayle: Okay. So I, me up to my third here. So talk about toxic and off putting . My next one is another one that you and I have both read that I think you and I both really liked my dark fine, Vanessa.

Ooh. By Kate Elizabeth Ross. Yeah. And this is about a student who gets involved with a teacher. This is high school, not college, and you’ve got a boarding school. So it’s definitely a contained environment. You’ve got supercharged stuff going on, secret stuff going on. And it’s told from the perspective of the student and about the relationship she had with this man who kind of groomed her and then, you know, had a physical relationship with her and then.

Kind of how that whole relationship gets resolved or whether it does get resolved and how it affects her later in her life. I just thought this was such a good book, so well told so well written. Yeah. The

[00:30:34] Nicole: interesting thing about this that I really liked is they, you know, not everyone thinks that they’re a victim of things.

And I think that this is like one of those books that looks at it from the angle of. this has affected her in a really profound way, but she might not necessarily be at the point where she sees it the way the world would see it. Right. And there’s resistance to that. And you know, what is that resistance about?

Is it because then you do have to face that the most formative relationship of your life is not what you thought it was, which can be devastating. Right? And like, if you have a choice between choosing that narrative and to stay with the narrative where you’re more empowered and you are. Making decisions about your life?

Like which would you choose? Right,

[00:31:17] Gayle: right. Yeah. How do you reckon with this incredibly formative important relationship now that you have objectivity to know what it might have been and that it wasn’t what you necessarily thought so well

[00:31:27] Nicole: done. So hold on. All right. My next book was also adapted into Netflix series.

It’s called anatomy of a scandal by Sarah Vaughn and it is about I think he’s a politician I started to get I’m like in the book, the book, I get the book in the movie confused or the book in the series, cuz I, I did see the series, which I, I really loved. It was like with, is it Sienna Miller? And a Michelle doc, you were in it.

And was it friend?

[00:31:57] Gayle: Yep. Who, by the way, do you remember what part he played in the Kira nightly version of pride and P. No, who did he

[00:32:05] Nicole: play?

[00:32:06] Gayle: So I watched that on the plane, I think. And I saw this guy and I’m like, where have I seen this guy before? And it turned out, cuz I watched the first episode of anatomy of a scandal at your suggestion.

And I liked it. Just have I need to go pick it back up again. He plays with him. Oh really? Yes. He’s wearing maybe a wig or his hair is blonde. So he looks different, but it is w he plays with him. Oh, he’s

[00:32:29] Nicole: always playing these dastardly dudes who are up to no good. So this novel is set amongst the British elite.

I think all of the participants in this went to school at Oxford together. And so it’s heavily flashing back, you know, right now Sophie is married to this man. His name is James and he’s a good husband and he’s been accused of a crime. Like he’s been accused of sexual assault by someone in his workplace.

Or at least that’s the Netflix version. I right. Then the book at this point is hazy, cuz it predated that. But the gist of it is that, you know, this happened and Sophie has to look at her husband and see if she feels like he’s capable of what it is. Like he has been unfaithful before they have had issues in their marriage, but she does not think initially that this is something that he would do or, you know, we don’t even know if she will ever be brought around to.

Not defending him and not standing by his side, even if she does think that he’s guilty, but all of this is in question. They’ve got this really smart barrister who is just like going over every piece of their life because she’s trying to bring this case against him. . And so they’re just, you know, Sophie looking back and just thinking about the experiences that she had with him when he was in Oxford, like he was part of the infamous eating clubs and she, you know, he grew up well off or whatever.

So this man that she’s married and built a life with, it’s just kind of like, what does she believe and how is she gonna move forward to her life with her life in, in light of what’s happen. So I definitely recommend you finish that it’s in flashback, but there is like a lot of stuff about, you know, it is that campus novel feeling about Oxford and, and their experiences there and all the traumas that took place.

I saw

[00:34:18] Gayle: some flashbacks, even in that first episode, maybe mm-hmm yeah. Okay. Thought it looked like, yeah. I need to pick

[00:34:25] Nicole: that back up. It was good. I know. There’s so much. There’s just so much yeah,

[00:34:29] Gayle: it’s really good. So my final, like. Spotlight book is a book. I talk about all the time and I read it ages ago. I should probably reread it, but I’m sure you can guess it’s prep by

[00:34:40] Nicole: Curtis.

Yeah, I was gonna mention it earlier. When you mentioned a book, when you were talking about that. And I was like, oh, wonder if they all mention prep, but I was like, I’ll wait.

[00:34:48] Gayle: Yes, here I am. Right on cue. So prep takes place at a prep school in new England. And it’s about a girl who. There she’s not as rich or pretty or blonde or whatever.

As the other students around her, she feels like an outsider, but she is smart. And does her best to fit in falls in love with this guy who always remember his name crossed Sugarman. she’s like, you know, has this crush on him for. all of high school and like, you know, they become friends and are they gonna hook up?

Are they not gonna hook up? It’s just like super realistic. Like all of Seinfeld’s writing is it’s just, you know, super like delving into angst and insecurity and it’s kind of the like daily dramas of life. And. This one happens to be set, you know, not in the white house, but in prep school. Cuz she seems to like those settings of like someplace, you know, very like filled with all kinds of things going on in schedules and sort of like artificial constructs and you know, she did that beautifully with American wife in the white house.

And now this is, I think prep was her first book.

[00:35:50] Nicole: Yeah. I was kinda saying that she, she does the same thing, like you say, with a political life, like these closed or very exclusive environments where things are more controlled. Yeah, yeah,

[00:36:00] Gayle: totally. All right. So those are my three. Should we do just some honorable mentions?

[00:36:05] Nicole: Well, my last, my final book, I wonder if you can guess

[00:36:09] Gayle: it, is it gonna have some like supernatural elements to it or anything like that? No. No, I can’t cast it. What is it? Once I say

[00:36:16] Nicole: it? You’ll you’ll know. So my favorite campus novel is the likeness by to of French .

[00:36:23] Gayle: Oh, okay. It has

[00:36:24] Nicole: mystery in it. Yeah, it does have mystery in it.

It’s her series. It’s the Dublin. I think the Dublin murder squad. So the conceit with each of these books is that is told from the point of view of a particular detective from the squad and each successive book follows the point of view of someone, someone else. So the first book. Cassie is in the first book and her partner is Rob and is kind of like all about how he gets involved and is investigating this murder case that is directly related to something tragic in his past.

And he doesn’t tell anyone. So it’s like his quiet. Unraveling as he tries to solve this case. So the second book is about Cassie and she’s sent to go undercover when you know implausibly, but whatever, we’re gonna go with it. Someone is murdered on a college campus, but they are a ringer for her. So she slips into this woman’s life.

To try to see if she can find out like what has happened to her and get some clues that is going to help solve this investigation. So while there is some of it about this investigation, a lot of it is just dedicated to her adjusting to college life, like the camaraderie and the friendship that she has.

As she’s trying, you know, she’s developing with the roommates and everyone of like the victim, as she’s just trying to like. Figure out what’s going on. So it’s, you know, I love a good mystery. I love a good campus novel. The fact that these are just mashed up all into one and that she’s such a great writer.

I love

[00:37:57] Gayle: this book. Okay. All right. I’m gonna just do a couple quick honorable mentions here. Books that were set on campuses that I liked. One is green by Sam Graham pson, which is about a boy who attends a white kid who attends pretty much an all black high school and how he tries to navigate that and, you know, make it through.

Adolescence when he feels like such a total outsider at where he is, but it’s kind of interesting because it flips the usual narrative. We do what we do in the dark, which I read recently that is a book about a college student woman who enters into a romantic relationship with a professor at her school, not her professor, but a professor who is also a woman just about how the relationship impacts her life.

You know, even looking back on it later.

[00:38:46] Nicole: Can I say one and see if it’s on your. Yeah. Plot. Oh my God. No, I didn’t even really?

[00:38:54] Gayle: No, that’s crazy. What a, I guess maybe do I think of that as a campus novel? Because

[00:39:00] Nicole: how do you think about it? I mean, they’re interviewing people on campus. He’s on campus.

[00:39:05] Gayle: Yeah. I guess you’re right.

Yeah. That is a campus novel. He’s a professor. Maybe it’s because the main, like deed of the, of it is unrelated to his teaching, but you’re right. Is it though? . I guess you’re right. And it was a student parent, a teacher, student relationship that kind of spurs the whole thing. Yeah. That’s a great one.

Didn’t think of it, but you know what I did think of as another one that you and I both read was in the dream house. Yeah. She’s in grad school. She’s in grad school and this like little world they’re living in Iowa, I believe. And yeah,

[00:39:38] Nicole: they’re, she’s in MFA program.

[00:39:41] Gayle: Or they’re commuting between two colleges, but yet it’s kind of all that pressure of academia and they have no money and they’re living in like grad student housing and it’s all very like insular and feels really small, which, you know, adds to her feeling of like being held captive a bit by her girlfriend.

The dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker about a pandemic or, or a pandemic that starts at a small college in Southern California and how the school deals with that. So that may be a little too hitting, too close to home these days, but definitely a campus novel. And then the last one is called the others’ gold by Elizabeth Ames, which is about four friends who meet in college.

and it takes them into their post-college lives as well. But like each of the characters makes a big mistake at some point in their life. And the chapters kind of focus on, you know, they rotate among these four and focusing on what that mistake was and why it happened and how, how they dealt with it. So those are my honorable mention books.

[00:40:42] Nicole: One that I wanna mention. And I wanna mention it just because it’s just so different. I haven’t read it yet. It’s never saw me coming by Vera. Curian and it is the premise is just so different. Like it is about this woman, she’s a freshman honor student. She happens to be a psychopath. She’s at college in DC and there’s seven other students who are in a study along with her because they’re studying like, you know, psychopaths, their lack of empathy and how they.

Relate. So she’s part of a clinical study with other, I guess, six other psychopaths who are in this study while she’s in college. And she is plotting to kill this, you know, like a childhood friend, I guess who’s at college with her, but who did something wrong to her? And she’s decided that he has to die, but one of the students that’s in the study with her is found murdered.

So she has to figure out. Who the killer is and get to the bottom of this before, you know, because she doesn’t wanna die obviously. And she has her own plans for revenge that she doesn’t want to be interfered with. So it’s just like one of those weird little twists on a college book that has you rooting for like a killer.

[00:42:01] Gayle: Yeah. Really. All right. Well, those are our campus books. I’d love to hear of yours. So please let us know what your favorite campus novels are. And I guess that’s our show.

[00:42:15] Nicole: Yeah, that’s our show until next time. Happy reading.

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