Culture

The Best Novels About Prep School 

Ranker Books
Updated April 23, 2019 342 votes 77 voters 6.1k views 32 items

List Rules What are the best fiction books about or set in boarding schools?

List of the Best Novels About Prep School. Nothing quite captures the zeitgeist like privileged teen angst, as displayed in the best novels about prep school. From The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield to Hogwarts’ Harry Potter, the best boarding school fiction isn’t just the stuff of dark hallways and confused sexuality; it’s the stuff of legend.

English professors might scoff at a few of these selections. However, this list of the best novels about prep school is comprised of volumes that have consistently gained the reader stamp of approval, whether over several decades (Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), or spanning centuries (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol).

The best novels about prep school share a few common themes: a general search for meaning, good versus evil, suicide and suicidal thoughts, lost love, unrequited love, and waning youth. The protagonists from these academies might be students (Gene Forrester, in John Knowles’ A Separate Peace) or teachers (Mr. Chipping, in James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips), but often their struggles mirror each other.

While the best boarding school books primarily feature characters from advantaged backgrounds, the painful, isolating, thrilling and confounding experiences of adolescence resonate across generations, socioeconomic status, gender identities -- muggle or magical-born. That’s why this definitive list of the best novels about prep school speaks to so many readers.
list ordered by
1
A Separate Peace is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
John Knowles
2
Harry Potter and the Ord... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
3
The Catcher in the Rye ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
J. D. Salinger
4
Prep is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Curtis Sittenfeld
5
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Charlotte Brontë
6
The World According to G... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
7
A Prayer for Owen Meany ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
8
Winter Light is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
peter thompson added Peter Thompson
9
Good-bye, Mr. Chips is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
James Hilton
10
Last Term at Malory Towe... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
11
Old School is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Tobias Wolff
12
The Prime of Miss Jean B... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
13
The Chocolate War is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
swag added Robert Cormier
14
The Last Olympian is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan
15
The Austere Academy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Daniel Handler
16
The Headmaster's Dilemma... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Louis Auchincloss
17
new girls is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Beth Richardson Gutcheon
18
The World of Henry Orien... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
19
Upper Fourth at Malory T... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
20
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Charles Dickens
21
The Sea of Monsters is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan
22
The Lightning Thief is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Rick Riordan
23
The Battle of the Labyri... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
24
In the Fifth at Malory T... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
25
Skippy Dies is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About Prep School
Paul Murray